The statue of the Archangel Michael in the inner courtyard of the Castel Sant’Angelo. This is at the mid-level courtyard after ascending the ramp that passes through the crypt of Hadrian/castle dungeon. around it are numerous Roman marble busts in various nooks, and a well for providing water to the Papal apartments above.
The statue dominates the courtyard, though, with its bronze wings patina’d green and weathered countenance.
It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by St. Peter’s – the space is so vast, even when full of tourists it doesn’t shrink down.
The baldacchino over the high altar at St. Peter’s is one of the more recognizable objects. Cast from bronze allegedly taken from the roof of the Pantheon, it was designed by Bernini (remember the staircase from earlier?) and marks not only the center of the crossing under the dome, but the grave of St. Peter. While one of its alleged functions is to provide a bit of human scale to the vast space of the basilica, it is so massive that it only compresses the space if there are no people around to provide comparison.
This view into the transept from the crossing with the people in the foreground I think really helps give you a sense of scale for the place.
This is a view of the entrance with its two clocks, as seen from the mid-nave.
On a separate but related note, it’s interesting how we refer to Rome and the Vatican interchangeably when we speak of the seat of the Catholic Church, when in fact they are two distinct entities. This was not always true, of course- especially during the Renaissance through the early 19th century, it was literal truth to say that Rome was the papal seat. Now, of course, the Vatican is in fact not only a separate city within the city of Rome, but in fact a separate nation, complete with its own passports. The Vatican is in fact the world’s smallest country.
While exploring St. Peter’s basilica, I saw this amazing light falling on the confessional booths, which were in themselves magnificent pieces of furniture. Something about them feels a little ominous, though, don’t you think? Or perhaps a touch funerary.
Even though I’m not myself Catholic, I don’t know that I’d want to give confession in that confessional booth- it would feel a little bit too direct.
When I get finished processing all 79 rolls of film from this trip, I’ll have more of these to add, but until then, here’s a selection of public fountains. The Italians certainly love their water features and drinking fountains.
I’m certain I mentioned this before about the ancient fountain at the Colosseum, how you plug the bottom to get water to come out a hole in the top of the pipe so you don’t have to bend over to drink.
Well, here you can see that in action, at a similar fountain in the Castel Sant’Angelo:
And a full view of the fountain:
Here’s a little fountain in the piazza in front of San Lorenzo in Florence:
The Cellini fountain and memorial on the Ponte Vecchio. The interesting thing about it is that the fountain and memorial are 19th century, and their placement on the Ponte Vecchio is a little disingenuous.The bridge today is occupied by goldsmiths and jewelers, true, but in Cellini’s day, the Ponte Vecchio was home to butchers. Other than picking up his Saturday prosciutto, he didn’t spend time on the bridge. The modern day jewelers are just claiming inspiration from him.
A fountain at the Pantheon, under the obelisk in the plaza in front:
Another public drinking fountain, on the Ponte Vecchio, in Florence. This one is actually a drinking fountain, whereas the Cellini monument is purely decorative.
The fountain in the forecourt to the Palazzo Barberini, backlit by the afternoon sun:
A fountain in the Villa Borghese park, directly in front of the Palazzo Borghese:
A closeup detail of the Villa Borghese fountain:
A fountain outside the Vatican, with the water spigots emerging from the heads of Papal keys, crowned by a quartet of Papal tiaras:
A garden-variety public drinking fountain in Trastevere, the neighborhood where I lived in Rome:
A fountain crowned with a pinecone finial in the Piazza Venezia, especially appropriate decoration as it sits beneath a canopy of the famous pines of Rome.