Vatican Gardens Open to Minibus Tours

ROME, SEPT. 19, 2011 ( The Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi is now offering a minibus tour of the Vatican Gardens.

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The Roma Cristiana minibus brings tourists around 109 acres of the gardens, including the Italian Garden, the English Garden, the French Garden, the Rose Garden, the Casina of Pius IV, the Palace of Governatorate, the Fountain of the Eagle, and other sites.

The outgoing president of the Governor’s Office for Vatican City State, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, described the varied components of the gardens: «history, art, science, technology and botany,» in addition to the «religious character that could classify the area as Marian gardens.»

For Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, vice-president of the ORP, the itinerary is much more than a tourist tour, as it is an occasion for «evangelization and catechesis made possible by technology placed at the service of art and beauty.»

The Roma Cristiana is a 28-seat environment-friendly minibus. The tour lasts about an hour, with an option to stop for prayer at the Lourdes replica grotto, which contains the original altar that was at Lourdes for more than a century.

Visitors also see the Leonine Tower, on which was built the oldest astronomical observatory of the world.

Among other curiosities is the Palazzina Guglielmo Marconi, where Vatican Radio’s first broadcasting station was built. Another stop is Vatican City’s rail station, which has a 1.2-kilometer (0.75-mile) line used today only on exceptional occasions

The minibus tour leaves every 30 minutes from Pius XII Square, in front of the ORP Meeting Point, every morning from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., except Wednesdays, Sundays and Vatican holidays.

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