Touring the Vatican City is a cherished experience that you’ll want to remember for years to come, and while photos and memories will serve as wonderful reminders, picking up unique Vatican souvenirs can truly encapsulate the essence of your visit. Whether you’re seeking religious artifacts or simple tokens representing the city’s rich history and culture, this guide will help you navigate the myriad of options available. Let’s take a look at the most popular Vatican souvenirs, and give you some ideas on how to find the perfect keepsakes from your visit. Let’s get started!
Where to find the Best Vatican Gifts
Begin your Vatican souvenir hunting in the Vatican Museums and the St. Peter’s Basilica gift shop; these places offer an assortment of religious items like rosaries, medals, and crucifixes, as well as art books, prints, and postcards inspired by the Vatican’s extraordinary art collections.
Authentic Murano glass jewelry from Venice, available in the city, also serves as a fashionable and treasured memento. Also, consider investing in a replica of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling artwork or a book on Vatican history, both of which can remind you of the awe-inspiring beauty and the intricate narrative of the city.
Moreover, don’t miss out on the Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office, a haven for collectors. With an assortment of Vatican City stamps and coins issued every year, you could purchase a unique piece of history to take back home.
Finally, consider Vatican-branded items such as t-shirts, caps, or mugs – great gifts for friends and family members back home.
How to get the best price
To ensure you get the best price for your Vatican souvenirs, it’s important to shop around and compare prices before you purchase. Keep in mind that most items, especially in the Vatican Museums’ shops, are fixed-priced, and you’ll be able to pick these up as you explore all tours in Vatican City. However, in smaller stores around the city or at street stalls, bargaining is part of the culture.
While the art of haggling might seem intimidating, remember that polite negotiation is key. Start by suggesting a price that’s 10-20% lower than the asking price. This displays your interest in the item and starts the negotiation process.
Pro-tip: Shopping in the off-season (November through February, except for Christmas) might provide you with better prices, as sellers are more inclined to negotiate during less busy periods.
Avoiding scam sellers in Vatican City
While the Vatican City is generally a safe place, it’s not immune to scams, especially those targeted towards tourists. Here’s how you can avoid falling prey to unscrupulous vendors and make the most of your shopping experience:
Check for fakes
Firstly, beware of fake ‘Made in Italy’ products. If you’re purchasing items like Murano glass jewelry or leather goods, ensure their authenticity. Genuine Murano glass items come with a certificate of authenticity, and real Italian leather products often have a label inside stating ‘Vera Pelle’ or ‘Made in Italy.’
Be cautious of street vendors
Secondly, we’d recommend that you be cautious when purchasing religious items from street vendors, especially around St. Peter’s Square. Some vendors may claim their rosaries are ‘blessed’ to justify a higher price, but it’s important to note that according to the Catholic Church, items sold as ‘blessed’ lose their blessing once purchased. Instead, buy your rosaries or religious articles from a reputable store and have them blessed by a priest in the Vatican for free.
Can I mail my Vatican souvenirs from the Vatican City itself?
Yes, the Vatican Post Office, considered one of the best in the world, allows you to mail your souvenirs directly. Not only is it efficient, but your packages will also bear the unique Vatican City postmark.
Is it possible to buy Vatican souvenirs online?
Absolutely! The Vatican’s official website has an online shop where you can purchase a variety of items. It’s an excellent option if you want to avoid carrying heavy items during your travels.
What are the working hours of the Vatican souvenir shops?
The souvenir shops within the Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 6 pm. The St. Peter’s Basilica shop opens at 8 am and closes at 7 pm during summer, with slightly reduced hours during winter.
The bottom line
The unique mementos you bring home from your Vatican visit will serve as tangible reminders of your journey through history, art, and religion – not to mention a beautiful holiday in the Italian capital! By following our guide, you’ll not only secure the best Vatican souvenirs but also ensure a hassle-free, scam-free and overall enjoyable shopping experience – which can be difficult when you’re a tourist.