Here we are just on the other side of the river at the Castel Sant'Angelo. This picture is a bit extraordinary because the sky was not heavy and grey! And because Arthur seems to have matured into the kind of guy who can have his picture taken without sticking his tongue out.
We dashed over to the Piazza San Pietro Wednesday night to see the new pope, and then returned Thursday morning. The only camera we had here Wednesday was Arthur's Flip video camera, which has not yet been attached to a computer for downloading. How slack we are... One day, we'll see if he got anything other than people's heads on camera.
So, very huge. If you look closely you can see the lineup of wee little folk just along the front, waiting to go in. We're about as tall as the base of the columns.
|Dead centre is the famed chimney on the Sistine Chapel|
|TV crew headquarters, just outside the Piazza|
Stephen became a big fan of obelisks. He will tell you how many there are (certainly we saw about eight, I think, not counting columns and other tall, thin things), who brought them from Egypt when, which ones were broken and then reassembled, which ones have hieroglyphs on... So I include this one for him. A quick internet search tells me that the thingy at the top contains a fragment of the true cross! How could we have missed that, hmm?
I have been in the Vatican four times in my life. The first time I was almost 6 and apparently was fascinated by a devil ferrying souls across the river in the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel. I bet it was about the only thing I could see, being little and all! I had a postcard of the whole wall for a long time -- and who would throw it out; it's probably in a box in the basement!
When I went in 1989 with a friend, we went through the museum, but I don't remember stopping in the church at all. And I'm sure we didn't climb the dome!
I did go in the church in 1984 with Stephen -- on the trip we dubbed "Great Scaffoldings of Europe" because everything was under wraps that year! Then we both sort of thought it was all ostentatious and gilded and think how many homes for the poor one could have built, etc etc.
This time I thought, "Wow, people built this!" Of course a pope or two had a grandiose idea and it's a bit over the top and people probably bought indulgences and paid for chapels to be built because they thought they'd get a better seat in the big theatre of heaven and it doesn't serve a purpose that I really care about, but it must have employed thousands of skilled (very skilled) and unskilled workers for years and years, and they did create some beautiful things for us all to admire. So just enjoy and don't think too much about other legacies of the church... for the moment...
|inside the main dome|
|Three of us just walking around|
|The Pieta behind glass. It really is lovely|
Now this required a smattering of Latin and a bit of understanding of British royal history. Someone was taking a picture of the shapely bottom of the angel on this monument, and I realized it was for James III of Great Britain. Who? It turns out that the Catholic son of James II ended up in Rome, since no one really wanted him in Britain, and he and his two sons are buried in the church. They got a very lovely monument made by Canova, and we got a bit of a puzzle as we walked past!
|Papal caution tape!|
Of course, we climbed the dome. I believe there are 551 steps. Only wusses take the elevator (which only saves you about half the steps), or so I was told, as we all set off to climb. There are sort of open ramps, really tight never-ending marble spirals, and the creepiest of all, the slightly tilted, very narrow space when you are walking between the outside of the dome and the layer of mosaics seen on the inside. Finally one emerges and the whole city is spread beneath you.
|boiling in oil|
|This lovely lady is having her neck pierced|
|This guy is getting chopped into bits|