On Saturday we have been on holy grounds: The Vatican Gardens (Italian: Giardini Vaticani). This trip was organized by ESN Roma LUISS. In order to take part in the ESN Roma LUISS activities, you have to go to their office in and sign up for it. Even though the office is at the back of beyond, it is always worth it going there, because most trips are sold out immediately.
The tour started on Saturday morning at 9.30h. Meeting point was the obelisk on the St. Peter’s Square. Half of the group was late though because we went to an Erasmus party on Friday night and most of us arrived home only a few hours before the tour started. A few minutes after I have arrived, our tour guide showed up. His name was Toni and he was a funny, young, German priest. Toni had to replace another priest who was our actual tour-guide. He was very nervous, because usually he is guiding the tours in German and not in English. He already prepared us at the beginning that his English is very bad and……it was. The Germans, who were at the trip, had to translate words which he did not know and sometimes he was mixing German words in his sentences so that non-Germans only understood half of what he said. Anyways, we had a lot of fun with Toni and it was a very informative tour.
After everyone had been arrived, we went into the gardens which cover more than half of the Vatican territory in the South and Northeast and which are usually out of the touristic itineraries. We first went into the Campo Santo, a German cemetery with the corresponding church Santa Maria della Pietá. Afterwards we walked through the gardens and parks which have been established during the Renaissance and Baroque. Toni showed us around in the perfectly manicured gardens which contain important fortifications and monuments as well as beautiful grottoes and fountains dating from the 9th century to the present day. Toni explained us that no one is allowed to be in the gardens from 13h-17h because the doctor prescribed the Pope to take a walk in there every day. The gardens are not only there for walks, they are also place for quiet and meditation for the Pope. In addition, they house the Vatican Radio Station and other important buildings.
In total, our tour lasted 2 ½ hours. It was impressive to see the huge gardens and great to have a priest as tour-guide because this gave us insight into the real Vatican world. If you open the link, you can see pictures from the Vatican gardens and a short description to it.