Saint Peter’s Basilica

The defining point of the Roman skyline, Saint Peter's Basilica is the one church you have to visit in Italy.

Symbol of the Vatican

Technically, this Roman symbol isn’t actually in Rome. The minuscule state of the Vatican is an independent agent, falling under jurisdiction of the Holy See rather than the Italian government. But surrounded as it is by Rome, getting a peek under the great Michelangelo-designed dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica is one of the top attractions of the Italian capital.

Italy’s Most Lavish Church

Entry is free, making it a budget-friendly alternative or addition to the Vatican’s other activities, like the Sistine Chapel or the Vatican Museums. As you wander through its opulent interior, it’s easy to imagine the grandeur of a papal audience or mass. Don’t miss Michelangelo’s famed Pieta sculpture inside. Its well-deserved fame is second only to his statue of David, on display in Florence.

Spectacular Roman Views

On your way out, stop for a contemplative moment on the balcony. The view over Saint Peter’s Square is one of the best photo ops in all of Rome, and perhaps even all of Italy. If you have the energy, you can get an even more expansive view by climbing the dome’s 312 steps.