Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Carriage Pavilion at The Vatican Museums

For those with a keen interest in vehicles and modes of transportation, the Carriage Pavillion at the Vatican Museums is a ‘must-see’. Inaugurated on April 19th, 1973 by Pope Paul VI, the Carriage Pavilion (Padiglione delle Carrozze) features a variety of transportation used by the popes over the centuries. Also on display near the horse-drawn carriages are several busts of various popes over the centuries.


Until the 19th century, carriages were the dominant mode of transport, however, this all changed in the 20th century when motor vehicles were added to the Vatican’s transport collection.


The Carriages Pavilion features an impressive collection of exquisite carriages, richly decorated which were predominantly used for special occasions. One of the most ornate carriages in the collection is the Grand Gala Berlin, constructed in Rome in 1826. The original carriages, sedan chairs, court livery, and horses’ harnesses are on display for all to admire.


The major automobile manufacturers competed to donate their best vehicles to the Vatican’s fleet of cars. There is now a wide-ranging collection that can be seen, featuring cars such as the classic VW Beetle, which was the last Beetle produced by Volkswagen in Mexico to the most luxurious such as the Mercedes Benz Nurburg 460 limousine, designed by Ferdinand Porshe. Other cars on display include a 1964 Lincoln Continental and a 1974 Citroen.


Popemobiles were also added to the Vatican’s collection of vehicles. These are used to transport the Pope through enormous crowds, moving at a very slow pace. In a Popemobile, the Pope stands up at the back of the vehicle, allowing people to see him passing by.

Initially, these vehicles were open-roofed, however, following the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981 in Saint Peter’s Square in the 1973 Fiat Campagnola, Popemobiles were later constructed with protective glass. Pope John Paul II survived the attempted assassination but was severely injured.

Tours of the Carriage Pavilion

To find out more about the history of these luxurious papal carriages and historical cars, join us for a tour of the Vatican Museums and the Carriage Pavilion, where are our expert guides will share their knowledge.

For further information and to book, check out all our Vatican tours.

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By |March 29th, 2021|Best places in Rome, Holiday, Things to do in Rome|0 Comments

Rome’s Delightful Neighborhoods

What is it that makes Rome such a special place? Famous for history, architecture, and well-known visitor attractions such as the Vatican and the Colosseum, it’s the uniqueness of the different neighborhoods that make Rome such an enchanting city.

Rome’s Districts

Each neighborhood is distinct in style, an individual village within the city, unique from a historic, cultural, and social perspective.

Known as ‘rioni’, Rome’s historical districts date back to Ancient Roman times. According to tradition, the Sixth King of Rome, Servius Tullius divided the city into four regions. As the city grew, so did the number of rioni. Over the years and under the rule of different leaders, the number of areas increased and today Rome has twenty-two quite distinct areas.

The dominant feature of an area often influenced the neighborhood’s name. In 1743 under Pope Benedict XIV’s rule, the city was divided into fourteen rioni. Two hundred and twenty marble plaques with the names of the boundaries were installed in the streets across the city. Many were removed at a later date when districts were reorganized again, however some still remain. Today if you look up at some of the older buildings, you may well glimpse one of these original marble plaques.

Popular Neighborhoods

Most visitors will explore the ‘must visit’ areas such as the Vatican City and the historical center (Centro Storico). However, there is so much more to Rome than the popular tourist spots. The heart of ancient Rome leads to other intriguing secret courtyards and windy cobbled streets revealing ivy-covered buildings, hidden gems, and an insight into past and present Rome.

The area representing ancient Rome appeals to those looking to explore and understand Rome’s architecture, ancient ruins, and Roman history. A tour with one of our experienced tour guides will provide an insight into ancient Rome. Our tours start at the magnificent Colosseum, also taking in the Roman Forum, and Capitoline Hill. We also have a variety of tours focusing on other important landmarks such as Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona.

Worth A Visit

Trastevere whose name means ‘across the Tiber’ is located just across the city next to the River Tiber. In times gone by, it was predominantly inhabited by fishermen wanting to be close to the river, now you’re more likely to find visitors, celebrities, and artists frequenting the many bars and excellent local restaurants. Narrow cobbled alleys give this area a unique and charming atmosphere. With over 900 churches across the city, you will find several in Trastevere, including one of the oldest in Rome, dating back to the 3rd century, the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, and the notable Church of Santa Cecilia. Both well worth a visit.

The Jewish Ghetto, located close to Trastevere and a stone’s throw from the center of Rome, features Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish communities, an ancient synagogue, museum, and kosher bakeries. Several Jewish-Roman restaurants can also be found in the Ghetto, serving traditional culinary delights such as ‘carciofo alla giudia’ (Jewish-style artichoke). Walled off as a residential area in the 16th century, the area is compact and easy to explore, featuring wonderful examples of Renaissance and Medieval architecture.

Monti has increased in popularity in recent years. Located close to the Colosseum and many of the ancient Roman attractions in the city, it has a slightly bohemian feel, with vintage and alternative clothes shops, alfresco cafes, small independent eateries, ivy-covered houses, street food, and trendy bars. The Piazza della Madonna dei Monti with its Renaissance-style fountain taking center stage is a popular place for visitors and locals to hang out and watch the world go by.

To learn more about Rome’s neighborhoods and find the best places to visit, check out all our tours. Our experienced tour guides have so much knowledge about Rome and love sharing their insights and stories of ancient Rome with all our visitors.

By |March 11th, 2021|Best places in Rome, Holiday, Things to do in Rome|0 Comments

The Magnificence of the Vatican

A stunning collection of the world’s most famous and precious masterpieces are proudly displayed within Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums. The Vatican is one of Rome’s most beloved places to discover works of art by illustrious artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Da Vinci.

The Vatican City, established in the Lateran Treaty of February 11th, 1929, is the smallest state in the world, at a size of 49 hectares and a population of approximately 800. Over the centuries, Popes have collected unparalleled collections of artworks.

Saint Peter’s Basilica
Even for the non-religious, a trip to Rome would not be complete without a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, a well-known work of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. According to Catholic tradition, Saint Peter is buried beneath the high altar of the Basilica.

Awe-inspiring, the imposing Basilica, constructed in 1506, features a host of sculptures and paintings including Michelangelo’s famous ‘Pietà’ statue and works by Bernini.

Visitors can enjoy spectacular views into the Basilica from inside of the dome. For those feeling energetic, it is well worth the climb to the top of the dome to experience the views looking out over the Eternal City and across the Vatican Gardens.

Saint Peter’s Square
The Basilica towers over Saint Peter’s Square which is also famous for its size at an impressive 320m by 240m. Some events at St. Peter’s Square have held over 300,000 people.

Bernini designed the elliptical piazza outlined by a colonnade of four rows of 284 columns. Standing tall above the columns are 140 statues of saints, created in 1670.
In the center of the piazza is a 25m high obelisk that originated from Egypt. Two circular, matching fountains, one by Bernini in 1675 and the second by Maderno in 1614 stand on either side of the obelisk.

The Vatican Museums
Explore the many galleries, museums, and courtyards within the Vatican Museums. The Gallery of the Tapestries features elaborate Flemish tapestries draped across the walls.

Whilst the Gallery of the Maps features frescoed maps painted between 1580 and 1585, taking visitors on a journey of the 40 Italian regions and papal properties during the time of Pope Gregory XIII.

Visitors will discover a carefully curated selection of Greek and Roman statues in the Pio-Clementino Museum, proudly displayed for all to enjoy.

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is breathtaking! Many visitors have passed through this most revered chapel to take in Michelangelo’s masterpieces that adorn the walls and ceiling. Michelangelo’s remarkable ‘Creation of Adam’ and ‘Last Judgement’ are superb works of art and have made the artist famous for creating the largest fresco ever painted by one man.

With so much to see, why not book one of our small group Vatican tours with our experienced and knowledgeable guides who will bring history to life, revealing secrets and stories behind some of the most impressive works of art you will ever have the pleasure to see. Check out all our Vatican tours here to find the best tour for you.

By |March 2nd, 2021|Best places in Rome, Holiday, Things to do in Rome|0 Comments