Did you know that Vatican City-State has its own department store? It also has a supermarket, a pharmacy, a financial institution (technically, it’s not a bank), and three post offices (plus a mobile postal unit).
Access to places like the supermarket and the department store is limited to residents of the Vatican (pop. 800), Cardinals, Vatican employees, certain others, and then whomever they bring with them. I had been to the supermarket once, and yesterday I finally got to the department store, thanks to a friend who has the tessera – the access card.
It’s in the Vatican’s old train station:
Train travel (and freight) used to be much more important and necessary for the Pope and for Vatican City. Not anymore. The train tracks are still there, and are still used occasionally – Pope Benedict went to Assisi by train a couple of years ago, and I think last year they brought a special train filled with sick children in to visit the Pope (Francis, I think) – but apart from those very occasional uses this station would otherwise sit vacant.
People here like to talk about how the shopping in the Vatican is “tax-free” (those rascals in the Vatican, always getting a special deal on something!). That’s a big deal to them because they didn’t grow up in New Hampshire, like I did. The poor things. Tax-free shopping is a way of life in the Live Free or Die State.
Besides having curiosity about just seeing the store, I wanted to buy some clergy shirts. Which you definitely can’t buy in department stores back home.