Tag Archives: Vatican

The Archangel Michael, Castel Sant’Angelo

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.

Archangel Michael, Castel Sant'Angelo
Archangel Michael, Castel Sant’Angelo

The statue dominates the courtyard, though, with its bronze wings patina’d green and weathered countenance.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican

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.

Baldacchino
Baldacchino

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.

Crossing the Nave, St. Peter's
Crossing the Nave, St. Peter’s

This is a view of the entrance with its two clocks, as seen from the mid-nave.

St. Peter's Entrance, Clocks
St. Peter’s Entrance, Clocks

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.

Confessionals, St. Peter’s Basilica

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.

Confessionals, St. Peters
Confessionals, St. Peters

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.

Water Fountains

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.

Ancient Fountain, Colosseum
Ancient Fountain, Colosseum

Well, here you can see that in action, at a similar fountain in the Castel Sant’Angelo:

Drinking Fountain, Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome
Drinking Fountain, Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

And a full view of the fountain:

Acqua Potabile, Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome
Acqua Potabile, Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

Here’s a little fountain in the piazza in front of San Lorenzo in Florence:

Lion Head Fountain, San Lorenzo, Florence
Lion Head Fountain, San Lorenzo, 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.

Cellini Fountain, Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Cellini Fountain, Ponte Vecchio, Florence

A fountain at the Pantheon, under the obelisk in the plaza in front:

Fountain, Pantheon
Fountain, Pantheon

Another public drinking fountain, on the Ponte Vecchio, in Florence. This one is actually a drinking fountain, whereas the Cellini monument is purely decorative.

Drinking Fountain, Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Drinking Fountain, Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The fountain in the forecourt to the Palazzo Barberini, backlit by the afternoon sun:

Fountain, Palazzo Barberini
Fountain, Palazzo Barberini

A fountain in the Villa Borghese park, directly in front of the Palazzo Borghese:

Fountain, Villa Borghese, Rome
Fountain, Villa Borghese, Rome

A closeup detail of the Villa Borghese fountain:

Fountain, Villa Borghese Park, Rome
Fountain, Villa Borghese Park, Rome

A fountain outside the Vatican, with the water spigots emerging from the heads of Papal keys, crowned by a quartet of Papal tiaras:

Papal Tiara and Keys Fountain, Vatican
Papal Tiara and Keys Fountain, Vatican

A garden-variety public drinking fountain in Trastevere, the neighborhood where I lived in Rome:

Water Fountain, Trastevere, Rome
Water Fountain, Trastevere, 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.

Pinecone Fountain,Piazza Venezia, Rome
Pinecone Fountain,Piazza Venezia, Rome