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Italy, Rome: St. Peter’s Dome, Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica has the tallest dome in the world. Michelangelo had a large part in its design. The lantern is 17 metres high. It was used as a model for other domes in the western world such as Saint Paul’s in London (1675), Les Invalides in Paris (1680-1691) and the Capitol building in Washington, DC (1794-1817).

 

 

Italy, Rome: Pieta by Michelangelo

As you enter St. Peter’s Basilica, in one of the first niches as go to the right, you can see Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of the Pieta, Madonna and child.

Italy, Rome: Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world with the tallest dome in the world. This Renaissance architecture was designed over the centuries by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

On 1 January 1547, Michelangelo, then in his seventies, was Pope Paul III’s 3rd choice to be the superintendent of the building program. So way beyond the Sistine Chapel, he was the principal designer of most of the building as you see it today.

 Michelangelo, who did not want this job, wrote “I undertake this only for the love of God and in honour of the Apostle.” In order to take the assignment, he insisted he be given a free hand to achieve his ultimate design by whatever means he saw fit.

The Basilica is supposedly the burial site of Saint Peter, first Bishop of Rome whose tomb is supposedly directly below high altar.

Italy, Rome: Colonnade St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

Have fun looking for the trompe l’oeil Gian Lorenzo Bernini planned in the center of St Peter’s Square. There are 2 semi-circles surrounded by 4 rows of columns. You can see the rows from any place in the piazza except from 2 spots (look for the metal plates in the ground) where the illusion allows you to see only 1 row of columns and not the four.

Italy, Rome: Vatican Entrance, Rome

Entrance to the Vatican Museums. Michelangelo’s ceilings in the Sistine Chapel is right near here.

Italy, Rome: The Vatican, Rome

Who would think on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in September, that we could have the whole Vatican plaza and the view of St. Peter’s Cathedral all to ourselves?

Italy, Florence: View From the Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The Arno River as seen from the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) in Florence, Italy.

Italy, Florence: Ponte Vecchio Fountain

It makes sense that a bust/fountain on the Ponte Vecchio would be of a sculptor and goldsmith, Benvenuto Cellini. Cellini did not have any connection with the jewelry shops on the bridge, which are there today because when he was alive, butcher shops lined the bridge. The artist, in a shout out to Cellini, used motifs taken from the pedestal of Perseus, Cellini’s masterpiece. The inscription on the monument states: “To Benvenuto Cellini ­ Master ­ The Goldsmiths of Florence.”

Italy, Florence: Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) is a medieval stone bridge and the only one to cross the Arno River until 1218. This one is “newer”, having been rebuilt after a flood in 1345. It’s famous because it has shops built along it, as was once was the practice. Originally it was butchers, now it’s jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.

Italy, Florence: Florence’s Bronze Doors to the Gates of Paradise

Florence’s Baptistry of the Duomo is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors which have relief sculptures. The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano, and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

It was Michelangelo who gave the East doors their fame, calling them “the Gates of Paradise”. The 17-foot-tall gilded doors, weighing 4 1/2 tons, are casts of the original doors created in Ghiberti’s 15th-century workshop.

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri and many other notable Renaissance figures, including members of the Medici family, were baptized in this baptistry.