The local area is, as anyone can imagine, steeped in history. Most of the buildings in this part of town date back to the late middle ages, when all of Rome was under the sovereignty of the church. Rome finally became part of a reunified Italy on October 9th 1870, after Napoleon withdrew his protective garrison to fight in the Franco-Prussian War, however, the Vatican has remained an independent city-state ever since, symbolically protected by the Swiss Guards who can be seen in and around the piazza of San Pietro's Basilica today.
The area directly in front of the piazza however, was demolished by Mussolini in order to build the spectacular thoroughfare Via dell Conciliazione, leading from St. Peter's to the River Bank – a stunning sight to behold at any time of year, but particularly at Christmas!
The name Emmaus is also biblical – disciples of Jesus were on their way there when they came upon the resurrected Messiah. The town still exists in Israel today, as well as a town named after it in Pennsylvania, USA!
The uniforms worn by the Swiss Guards who symbolically protect the Vatican City state to this day were originally designed by the great Florentine artist, Michelangelo. Michelangelo is best known for his masterpiece, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, on which he painted the story of the bible.
Don't forget your pants!
St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums operate a strict dress policy – no exposed knees or shoulders! This policy stands even throughout the hot summer months, to the dismay of many unknowing tourists who wait in line for several hours!