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Joanne Bergamin

text Virginia Mammoli

March 27, 2019

Joanne Bergamin, @swissguardwife on Instagram. Her life in Vatican City

Among the few people to have a Vatican City passport, number 153, to be exact

At times, real life is more creative than any writer or dramatist. This is the case with Joanne Bergamin, journalist for Osservatore Romano, travel blogger and…wife of a Swiss Guard. She is one of the few people to have a passport for Vatican City, number 153 to be exact. 

What brought you from Australia to Rome?

I often came to Italy with my parents when I was young. They had a jewellery shop in Australia and we travelled the world to buy gold and precious stones, but I fell in love with Rome. 

What is life like as the wife of a Swiss Guard?

It’s always at the forefront of my mind while I’m inside the Vatican, even when I’m doing the groceries or putting gas in the car. It’s also a bit like having 110 brothers.  When I walk by them, we greet each other, we joke around; I even offer to bring them coffee because they can’t move when they’re on duty. 

How do you spend your free time in the Vatican?

I love to be in St. Peter’s Basilica because it’s like taking a dip in a pool of light. I say a little prayer then I maybe go grab a cappuccino on the roof of the church. On Sunday, I often take a long run in the Vatican Gardens, and I’m almost always alone. There’s always something new to discover and photograph. 

Off the beaten track: what are the best eats in Rome?

For seafood, not far from the walls of Vatican City (just in case the Pope needs us!), I love to go to the small, family-run Da Benito e Gilberto. For pasta, Osteria da Memmo, where I always order fresh linguine with shrimp, pecorino and cherry tomatoes (it’s named “Pasta di Jo” after me). Pizza at Emma, between Campo dei Fiori and Largo di Torre Argentina. For a great coffee, Sant’Eustachio, while for gelato, there’s the Giolitti family, which has been preparing heavenly concoctions since 1900.


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