Thursday, August 10, 2017
Secrets of the Vatican!
Check out our OC-Travel 5 BEST Off-the-Grid Vatican Sights!
1. Did you know the Swiss Guard have a gift shop in their barracks? Don't worry, no one knows! Actually, it's more a hallway. Bring cash in Euro. They are open Friday mornings only. Approach the Swiss Guard on the left at the Porta Sant'Anna entrance to the Vatican and ask!
2. Did you know the Vatican has a soup kitchen for homeless men? Did you know the Mother Teresa sisters staff it? Yes, they speak English! Did you know you can volunteer there? Ring the bell at the entrance of the southwestern corner of the Vatican. The sign on the wall reads in white marble: Dono di Maria (Gift of Mary). You can also ask them to show you the hidden tomb of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani (aka Big Al), a famous Catholic prelate of the twentieth century, located in their chapel, attached to the Palace of the Holy Office.
3. Did you know you can observe the Swiss Guard marching maneuvers in the Vatican Gardens when they drill on (some) Saturday mornings? Enter the Vatican Museums early on a Saturday and follow the signs down to the gardens in front of the Pinacoteca Gallery and watch for them. Hint, you will hear them first!
4. Did you know you can take the Vatican Gardens tour and walk by the home of Pope Benedict and wave? Buy tickets ahead of time from Vatican Museums online ticket office. Ask your guide. Also check out some of their other new and unique tours such as "Vatican by Train" and "Pontifical Residence of Castel Gandolfo" and "Hidden Vatican Museums" tours: https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do
5. Did you know you can request photos and papal blessing parchments in the Vatican? Enter at the Porta Sant'Anna. You can feel very smart with official business in the Vatican! No, you don't need your passport! After you pass the Swiss Guard, turn right. You may be stopped by the Vatican Gendarmes. Tell them you are headed to the l'Osservatore Romano Photo Shop or the Office of Papal Charities (FYI: only open in the mornings).
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