Nestled in Rome, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world. Since 1929 it has been an independent city-state of just over 110 acres with a population of 800. It has its own stamps and coins, even its own passports although very few are issued. The head of state is the Pope.
Except where the Vatican opens towards the river along the Via della Conciliazione, the Vatican is surrounded by walls. Approach from the river as medieval pilgrims did: walk or catch a taxi to the Ponte Sant’Angelo on the far side of the river, cross the wonderful bridge of angel statues, heading for the majestic fortress (now museum), Castel Sant’Angelo, then veer left and walk up the long promenade facing the magnificent Saint Peter’s Basilica. The curving colonnades of the church forecourt seem to embrace you, welcoming you in.