Visiting Italy is definitely on my bucket list. I've been to Milan for a day and half so that doesn't really count. What I'd really like to do is rent a cheap car and tour Rome and the surrounding areas. Now that I live in Israel (as opposed to Canada) it is much easier to hop on a plane and hit Europe. So my dream isn't that far fetched... one of these days! There is so much to do and see in Rome, and more specifically, the Vatican. You will likely want to park your cheap car rental outside of the city gates and travel by foot. The options are endless and I could probably ramble on forever.
That said, I will focus on 3 major tourist attractions that cannot be missed:
1. The Vatican - A separate sovereign state within Rome, the Vatican is run by the Pope and was created in 1929. It has a meagre population of 1,000 people and is roughly 110 acres small. It is a city-state surrounded by Rome and is home to the Roman Catholic Church and of course, the Pope. It is also the dwelling place of some of the most famous art in the world. The Vatican Apostolic Library (more frequently referred to as the 'Vatican Library' or the 'Vat') is located in Vatican City and is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It houses collections of historical texts, codices and incunabula.
2. St. Peter's Basilica - The St. Peter's Basilica is the papal enclave within the city of Rome, also known as an Italian Renaissance Church in Vatican City. It is the largest church in the world and was designed by Bramante, Michelangelo, Maderno and Berini. It is a famous work of Renaissance architecture and is considered to be one of the most sacred Catholic Shrines. When climbing the steps to the entrance of the Basilica you will see the beautiful view of St. Peter's Square (a great photo opp for sure). You will see St. Peter's Treasury, the Vatican Grottoes, and perhaps even the Pope! If he is in Residence, the Pope generally appears to pray on Sundays at noon!
3. The Sistine Chapel - Located in Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel is the official residence of the Pope and is also the site of the Papal conclave - the means by which a new Pope is selected. Renaissance painters including Reselli, Ghirlandaio and Botticelli (to name of a few) were responsible for creating a sequence of frescos demonstrating the 'Life of Christ' and the 'Life of Moses'. In 1483 a ceremony was held and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.