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Money shot! Pope Benedict XVI from when we attended the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Italy, 2010.
Photo: Canon 450D + 55-250mm; Please don’t steal! Taken by my sister Stephanie Go
For the complete post: http://gogengo.tumblr.com/post/31038536351/papalaudiencevaticancity

Money shot! Pope Benedict XVI from when we attended the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Italy, 2010.

Photo: Canon 450D + 55-250mm; Please don’t steal! Taken by my sister Stephanie Go

For the complete post: http://gogengo.tumblr.com/post/31038536351/papalaudiencevaticancity

Filed under basilica benedetto benedict catholic church christianity church europa europe holy italia italy italy 2010 papal audience pope roma rome vatican vatican city vaticani vaticano viva papa portrait photography people

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Climbing the Cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica for the Best View of Vatican City

I am no athlete. The most I’ve done aside from the sporadic trip to the gym was probably a short dance stint back in gradeschool (my Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys years, mostly), high school (school plays and whatnot) and early college. But I am no athlete. So this unexpected trek up the Catholic Church’s largest basilica’s gargantuan dome thing on top definitely knocked the wind out of me.

You can opt to pay EUR5 to ride the elevator up part of the way (which I did, and recommend to non-athletes like me), but alas, the rest of the pilgrimage to the top is on foot.

The roof of the basilica—you can see the backs of the saint statues that line the square!

You get to be up close and personal with the dome interiors—and see the tiny churchgoers and tourists bustling about beneath you!

The walls are lined with gorgeous mosaic—these things last forever!

Now for the rough part of the climb—the walls become narrower and narrower, steeper and steeper, and I swear as you reach the “curves” in the dome, the walls curve with them so you have to walk with your body hunched over or slanted!

I’m not sure if this is a well known thing-to-do at St. Peter’s, but if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend braving the climb…

THE VIEWS ARE WORTH IT!

St. Peter’s square is miniscule from above.

The office of the Vatican—

And there—do you see the Musei Vaticani and Sistine Chapel?

I was out of breath and thirsty as hell, but man were the views so worth the climb.

What seems to be a perfect Italian day~

On the way back down, there are gift shops and cafes in the middle floors/mid-levels

You can even go right up to the backs of the saints that line St. Peter’s square! They’re HUGE in person!

See the big dome? We were at the tippy top of that! This shot was taken by the saint statues at mid-level

You can’t even really see the people who are still up there! It’s so deceptively small, but climbing it was a real challenge!

And finally, on the way down, here’s me and my brother popping some chips for sustenance. Hahaha

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

(We actually shot a video the whole way up but my commentary is too embarassing hahaha)

Filed under italia italy roma rome vatican vaticano vaticani vatican city italy 2010 europe europa church basilica saint peter's st peter's peter san pietro basilica di san pietro piazza san pietro Architecture catholic church pope holy holy seat

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Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City, Italia

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most visited and popular pilgrimage/tourist sites of the Catholic world. Over the course of my four or so visits to the place, I still haven’t quite gone around the entirety of the basilica. With hoardes of tourists bustling about all day, not to mention the long lines filing into the basilica, sometimes you’re left with not that much time to really explore the inside.

Usually, if you join a group tour, a visit to St. Peter’s is a staple when Rome & Vatican City are on the itinerary. But because there is just sooo much to see and do and eat in Rome, there often isn’t much time devoted to a single place, St. Peter’s included. We actually had about 5 minutes inside the actual basilica (after a 2 hour or so wait in line) running around taking random photos like maniacs. These photos are when we went back after our tour (since we stayed in Rome for ten more days after) and gave ourselves ample time to really look at the artworks, walk (not run!) around and just absorb everything. Albeit, we still weren’t able to see everything, but at least we had more time than we normally did.

(Photo Above & Below) The famedPieta,depicting Mary cradling Jesus’ body after his death and crucifixion. The details, especially the lifelike flow and movement of the cloth, is just one of the awesome aspects of the works of masters of yore.

All around the basilica, little “chapels” line the halls. Marble columns, gold, and religious (and some might argue, masonic) iconography abound!

Cool emblem things like these are also to be found

This roof thing is the altar, and where the Pope is at when he holds mass here

Sewage type grates, also in gold

Statues of past Popes and their surrounding saints, angels, etc.

I love this metal wallpaper-like pattern. Kinda baroque ish.

Lots of light gorgeously filtering into the hallowed halls.

Everything here is just so ornate and rich. It’s actually ironic that the beautiful (and very very valuable & expensive) artifacts and architecture and properties of the Catholic Church that pilgrims and tourists all visit and revere today are the result of the manipulations, conquests, blackmail, bribery and other shady deeds of past popes, who used taxpayers’ and religious devotees’ money to amass incredible wealth and expand the Church’s reign. (Saw that on the discovery channel haha)

Makes you wonder how extreme the Church’s propaganda was in the olden times when Twitter and Facebook and the internet weren’t in existence yet. Ha.

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm + 24-70mmL

Filed under roma rome italy italia europe europa travel traveling traveler travels euro church catholic basilica cathedral saint peter st. peter's basilica di san pietro san pietro christian pope history italy 2010

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San Carlino, Roma, Italia

We stumbled upon the San Carlino church by accident. We were taking photos at the Quattro Fontane, and from the street, the church was a nondescript, almost invisible structure built into the wall, blending in.

It was a real hidden gem, though. Inside, the church was small and monochromatic but quietly beautiful, with high vaulted ceilings and an oculus with streaming light. It felt very intimate and neighborhood-y, and there wasn’t as much red tape (or velvet ropes) keeping wanderers from exploring the grounds.

In the back, there was a tiny architectural courtyard, the type you’d picture in a monastery, cloister or convent.

Beneath the church, an eerily empty and cold crypt.

In the halls, glass cases with old mementos of dead children were on display. Not exactly sure what the significance is, but one look at the paintings and the artifacts and you can imagine the horror-thriller movie.

This church is not as flashy or adorned with gold and expensive paintings as most famous churches, but it’s definitely a church that’s not as simple or nondescript as it appears to be. If you happen to be at the fountain of the four rivers and have a spare mezzora, step off to the side street and visit the San Carlino (that is, if you can find it).

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under travel europe europa roma rome italia italy church basilica san carlino monastery cloisters convent courtyard architecture oculus crypt quattro fontane fountain roman italian italy 2010

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Quattro Fontane, Roma, Italia

Up the street from our apartment in Rome was the famous Quattro Fontane, or the fountain of the four rivers. Honestly I thought it would be more like the Trevi Fountain times four, but it was a much smaller, much simpler piece in a tiny crossroads in a not so flashy part of Rome.

Still, what’s so interesting about something like this is how such history is carved into the side of some random street wall, preserved, and now quietly sits there as millions of people pass by everyday to do their grocery shopping down the street, or to catch a quick cup of coffee in the corner cafe up the road. So random, yet so fascinating!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under travel roma rome italia italy europe europa mediterranean fountain fontana quattro fontane sculptures four fountains fountain of the four rivers four rivers italy 2010

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Santa Maria della Vittoria, Roma, Italia

Another one of the churches featured in Angels & Demons was the Santa Maria della Vittoria, where Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa was housed. I’m guessing the set was different in the movie, because the colors seemed off and there were no pews (but then again, in the movie the pews were a pyre, so maybe that’s why it seemed off).

The church, similar to the Santa Maria del Popolo in its size and modest but elegant grandeur, was really beautiful.

What I’ve noticed in Italian churches is that if you look closely, there are always creepy, morbid details integrated into the architecture. For a gore-lover like me, details like those make the seemingly immaculate holier-than-thou atmosphere just a bit more fascinating. Better, if saintly bones and relics are creepily displayed like the holy grail. Now isn’t that eerie green-lit corpse just the awesomest?

And finally, the famed sculpture! We were a bit too far away to really see every detail, but the closeup shots from the movie played sidealong in my head as we looked on.

And the visit wouldn’t be complete without noting some more creepy statues around the church. Is it just me or are their smiles more Chucky than Churchlike? Eerie, but beautiful all the same (these statues, not Chucky).

The Santa Maria della Vittoria is located near another Church, the Santa Susanna. It’s a few minutes away by foot from the Quattro Fontane, which is the area where we stayed in Rome.

A neat tidbit for paper aficionados: there’s a commercial-looking office supplies shop across the church that looks like any other standard office supplies shop selling staplers, notebooks, highlighters and that sort of thing. But check the shelf under the register area and they have a small sale stack of those pretty Italian papers that are mucho expensivo in Il Papiro or Cartoleria Pantheon. The designs are less varied and simpler of course but worth stocking up on!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under travel europe europa Italia Italy roma rome church basilica santa maria della vittoria vittoria ecstasy of st teresa st theresa statue bernini italy 2010

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Castel Sant’ Angelo, Roma, Italia

One thing I loved about visiting Italy in April was that we happened to be there during Cultural Week, and this meant that almost all the cultural/historical sites were free! We really didn’t know about it prior to going, so this was a happy surprise. It definitely made up for the sporadic, untimely rains.

I had been to Castel Sant’ Angelo before, but only outside, back in 2002. In group tours, there is usually very limited time in Rome (usually 2 nights), so the focus is on the bigger stuff, like St. Peter’s and the Colosseo. I was glad that we stayed in Rome after our tour for another ten days, giving us the time to revisit and explore the sights that we hadn’t gotten the chance to before.

Past the entrance, it is a series of tunnels and passing dungeons and cells

There are also rooms with elegant furnishings and paintings, but photos weren’t allowed there. Outside, a sunny courtyard with angel statues and old school weaponry.

See that canon-like thing? I think it’s like a giant crossbow, or a boulder catapulter of sorts (below photo)

Going up is round and round, with pretty photo stops in between as you go higher up. The view of the city is really pretty from several different vantage points.

Finally, at the very top, spectacular views of Vatican City and of Roma~

Below you can see the back of Piazza Venezia. Everything in Rome is really so close to each other, making it a beautiful city to walk around in.

The archangel pointing down (another A&D reference) to the secret passage

Piazza Venezia in the distance, and a beautiful mosaic of rooftops and domes

The street below, and the bridge Ponte S. Angelo

A great vantage point to see St. Peter’s Basilica!

Going down from the roof

Potable water

Leaving Castel Sant’ Angelo via Ponte S. Angelo bridge

This bridge is very beautiful too, lined with soldier-like angels, dramatically posed angels, and whatnot

From the bridge, a great view of Castel Sant’ Angelo too!

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm + 24-70mmL, Sony P200, Sony W380

Filed under italia italy roma rome europe travel travels castel sant angelo castle of the angel italy 2010