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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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Peoplewatching at the Papal Audience

During the long wait for the Pope, there was nothing to do but zoom in and out and take funny/interesting shots of people. Hair looks really interesting as a super-zoomed in texture. And people have funny faces when they’re bored.

Photos: Canon 450D + 24-70mmL + 55-250mm

Filed under vatican vaticano vaticani vatican city citte citte del vaticano italy italia europe italy 2010 europa people photo portraits candid stalking papal audience pope benedetto papa viva papa benedict xvi benedict roma rome canon zoom lens

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Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City, Italy

We must’ve visited the square 3 times during this trip, all for different reasons. First, as part of the tour, where we stood in line for almost 2 hours only to have 5 minutes inside the Basilica. That was also the day my sister’s SD card devastatingly got wiped.

So this, our second visit, was to retake the shots we lost, which were the ones of the exterior of the basilica as well as around the piazza. Luckily, it was better weather than the first visit! A rare occasion.

Seats already in place for the Papal Audience (which we would also be attending)

What I love about St. Peter’s, despite its usual crowdedness and hordes of tourists milling about, is that there’s something epic about it that you can’t deny. Angels & Demons wasn’t an exaggeration of how grand and spectacular the whole place is, even though the movie made use of CG.

Of course we went looking for the bas relief of the West Wind as featured in the book. But like most A&D related artifacts/stuff, it was behind fences and much too far to see :|

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm

Filed under italia italy roma rome vatican vaticano piazza san pietro san pietro st. peter's basilica vatican city citte del vaticano europe travel travels religious cathedral angels and demons dan brown st. peter's square italy 2010

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Musei Vaticani & Capella Sistina

Musei Vaticani and the Sistine Chapel are definitely some of the things one would want to tick off the bucket list. Although I know some people would advise against it, or against anything too “touristy” in general, I think that people are just mostly discouraged by the long, winding lines of impatient tourists snaking out from the ticket booths. (as a side note, I don’t really agree with treating “touristy” places as something like “mainstream” music. sometimes something is just good and people flock to visit it. that doesn’t make it bad~ which is not to say I am a pop music fan. But it’s just the principle of it)

Once you’ve braved the long queues, the Musei Vaticani is yet another labyrinthine journey of corridors and halls and galleries.

The two times I’ve been here was always with a tour group, which has its positives and negatives. For one thing, we get to skip the long queue and head straight inside, where there’s a/c and seats as we wait for our tour director to pick up our tickets. On the downside, tour companies usually allot just a couple of hours for this, so you don’t really have time to go off and explore. You basically go through a basic route through Musei Vaticani, usually ending in the Sistine Chapel, quick hidden photo-taking, then that’s it. But in all fairness, all the basics are covered, and if that’s all you’re after, then joining a tour will make that easier. As for me, I think I’ll make my next visit sans tour, with more time to explore the vast museum grounds.

Cool ancient tapestries that hang all over the place. These things took ages to make, but at least they’ve lasted through the ages as well~

This painting style was popular back then, a type of optical illusion wherein the wood panel details look three dimensional but they’re actually all flat! The telltale sign that they’re actually flat (if you can’t believe it) are the cracks running across the ceiling (which is not clear in this picture, but there are loads)

And the tour almost always ends with the amazing Sistine Chapel. Best enjoyed/appreciated if you’re focused on the art and just aloof to the stifling density of tourists shuffling through the chapel. Because believe me, there are a LOT of tourists here, almost all the time.

If you want to take decent photographs of the interior of the Sistine Chapel, which, according to their signs and posts of warning are not allowed, a little secret that our tour director told us was to ACT JAPANESE. This is because the Japanese company FUJI (as in Fujifilm) helped the Vatican in the restoration of the Sistine Chapel. In return, Japanese tourists could take as many photos as they wanted of it. Luckily for us, we are Chinese, and are usually therefore mistaken for Japanese/Korean/Taiwanese/etc.

Taking a photo was still pretty risky, especially during peak season when the place is really packed like when we went. Several of the guards were there, walking amongst the crowd of tourists and stopping people from taking photos and yelling “SILENCE” and “NO PHOTOS” in stern, scary voices. And since we had no proof whatsoever of our being “Japanese” lest questioned (we were paranoid), we still had to act dumb and take our pictures in relative sneakiness.

I think this is the best one of the ones we were able to sneak-take; taken by my sister with her Canon 450D + 10-22mm super wide angle lens:

Now don’t you think this is worth a couple of hours and a teeny bit of sweat?

Photos: Canon 450D + 10-22mm.

Filed under vatican musei vaticani sistine chapel michelangelo capella sistina traveler traveling trip journey tour touristy wanderlust roma rome vaticano italia italy travel europe trafalgar italy 2010