Rome, Italy – St. Peter’s Basilica

There are Places 2 Explore and then there are places you have to visit one day!  This must visit is The Vatican/St. Peter’s Basilica.  I must say that in all of my travels world wide…this location has got to be the most awe-inpsiring place I have ever been!  It is very surreal and you kinda feel not worthy that you get to see this amazing place with your own eyes!  The statue above is one of many in St. Peter’s.  There are four that surround the piers of the dome. This is St. Longinus.   I have a strong memory that will stick with me forever the first steps I took into St. Peter’s and looked up at the inside of the dome…I froze in wonderment!   I have only been there once…and will surely go back in the next few years!   No tripods allowed…so hand hold every shot and they still will look great!

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Rome, Italy – The Vatican – Gallery of Maps

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

When visiting Rome, Italy…a must see is the Vatican.  You can take a tour of the museum that leads you from all throughout this amazing place!  While on tour look around or up and there is magical views everywhere!   Here in this shot you can see the Gallery of Maps…and all the tourists walking the halls on tours!    I think visiting here was probably the most surreal place I have ever visited..due to its rich history and truly amazing art and beauty!    There surely are many  places 2 explore in this world…and this should be on your list if you have yet to visit!

Here is some info from the web:  Gallery of Maps takes its name from the 40 maps frescoed on the walls, which represent the Italian regions and the papal properties at the time of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585). They were painted between 1580 and 1585 on drawings by Ignazio Danti, a famous geographer of the time. Considering the Apennines as a partition element, on one side the regions surrounded by the Ligure and Tyrrhenian Seas are represented; on the other, the regions surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. The map of the main city accompanies each regional map.

One word..wow!  Have a golden day!

Rome, Italy – St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter's Basillica

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world!  Any place you would like to visit here seems about a 10 min cab ride away!  With 2 of the most famous places on Earth – The Vatican and The Colosseum – who wouldn’t want to visit!   I was truly mesmerized during my visit to the Vatican.  Such history and beauty everywhere you looked.  One word – surreal! My jaw dropped as soon as I walked into St. Peter’s Basilica.  Looking upward is true breathtaking art!   I have read about the amazing Dome, but was curious about the dark canopy that stands in the middle lower section of this photo.

Here is some info from the web:   At the crossing of the transepts is the central focus of the interior, the baldacchino. This monumental canopy shelters the papal altar and the holy relics of St. Peter. Artistically, it also serves to fill the vertical space under Michelangelo’s great dome. Made of 927 tons of dark bronze (removed from the Pantheon’s roof in 1633) accented with gold vine leaves, the baldacchino stands 90 feet (30 meters) tall. The baldacchino was created by Lorenzo Bernini from 1624 to 1633 under the direction of Barberini pope Urban VIII, who added Baroque embellishment to much of Rome.

The spiral columns derive their shapes from the columns of the baldacchino in the original St. Peter’s Basilica built by Constantine, which legend has it came from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Cherubs are repeated throughout the monument, giving an overall effect of the Ark of the Covenant. Symbols of the Barberini family can be seen throughout, including a golden sun and bees. Thus, in addition to being a beautiful work of art, the baldacchinio symbolizes the union of the Old Testament wisdom of Solomon, the Christian tradition of Constantine, and the rebirth of a triumphal church under the guidance of the Barberini family.

If I have the chance to visit again…I would enjoy reading a book about all the wonders of The Vatican before I visit.  This visit I went in with little knowledge…next time I will be an expert!  Hopefully!  Hope your day is enlightened!

Rome, Italy – The Vatican

Rome, Italy - Vatican

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, Color Efex Pro 3.0

This photo is from the Vatican in Rome, Italy.   Taken out front of St. Peter’s Basilica.   I gave this shot the “Old World” feel by using NIK Software Color Efex Pro 3.0.  Check my previous posts for details on the Vatican.  It is a must visit when in Rome!   Dont forget…its closed on Sundays! 

Rome is one of the greatest cities in the world.  Acutally a big city…everything seems to be a 10 minute taxi ride away!  City tours are available and you get to see all the sights!   Italy is one of the most beautiful countries…I still have to visit Venice, Pisa, Almalfi Coast, Tuscany, etc….   Whew!  A 2 week visit would be perfect!  Arrivederci for today!

Rome, Italy – St. Peter’s Basilica – HDR

Rome - St. Peter's - HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

In honor of the movie Angles & Demons coming out this week.  It is the follow up to the Da Vinci Code.  A&D takes place in Rome.  I am just about finished reading the book.  I wanted to read the book beofre I saw the movie.  Always makes it fun to compare.   I had my fun at the Vatican that one day as noted in my previous post about the stairs.   Later that day I spent about 1 hour in St. Peter’s walking and taking photos.   Probably one of the most amazing places I have ever seen!  I just kept looking up and I could not believe what I was seeing.   You know you are somewhere special when you get that outer body feel and that tingle feeling while walking around.   Very sureal.

The Basilica of St. Peter’s is one of four major Basilica’s in Rome.  It is the most prominent building inside Vatican City.   It is the largest Church in Chritianity and has a capacity of 60,000 people.  Construction of the new Basilica over the older Constantinian Basilica began in April 1506.  Michelangelo was one of the major artitists to contribute to the architecture of St. Peter’s.   You can read more about it by clicking  St. Peter’s.  

I do not think they allow tripods in the Church…so everything must be hand held.  This shot is of the inside of the dome.  I took this hand held…again lucky!   I braced my arms solidly and took 5 exposures.  Such a tough angle looking upwards.  I post processed in Photomatix.  I think you can easily spend a day just inside St. Peter’s!    Talk about a Place 2 Explore…Rome is in the top of the list!

Rome, Italy – Vatican Stairs (up view)

Vatican Stairs (up view)

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Here is the up view of the Vatican Stairs.  If you are in Rome, make sure to visit the Vatican!   I was amazed by the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, etc…  Tons to see!  When you arrive into the Sistine Chapel…there are many people looking up at the beauty above!  No pictures are allowed.  When you see it…it is very sureal.  Another amazing area is St. Peter’s Basilica.  Just so beautiful!  Everywhere you look…just breathtaking!!   St. Peter’s was my favorite location at the Vatican.   I didnt bring my tripod…not sure if it is allowed.  So everything I took was hand held.   Make sure to set the proper aperature!

Rome overall is fantastic.  It is a big city.  This means everything is about a 10 minute taxi ride away.  So it will cost you some Euros to get around. If possible take a tour bus.  I did the hop on hop off bus tour.  Fun and worth it!  When we arrived at the Colosseum….another sureal view.  Its like you are seeing something unbelievable….and its real!    Not a ton of angles to shoot the facade..but you can get some good shots.   Try to be artistic in your thoughts.  The standard shots look kinda boring.  My header above is of one of many angles shots I took.   I took the 2 hour tour inside and it was just ok.  I’d chosse to walk it alone and save some money.  The Colosseum is truly on of the wonders of the world!

The are many spots to see in Rome to photograph.  Rome is a must visit city if you get to Europe..or live there!  I’d say my favorite European cities are:  1) Paris  2) London 3) Rome  4) Vienna 5) Zurich  Oh yeah…and the food in Italy is tremendous!!!!   I still have many places in Italy to visit!  If I get to them…I will post em here!  Have fun!

Rome, Italy – The Vatican Stairs

Vatican Stairs

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24

Here is one of my favorite pictures…the Vatican Stairs in Rome.  I flew into Rome last year for business and typically get in on a Sunday AM.  I was to make my way up Italy on Monday and leave Rome the next day.  As it is Sunday the Vatican is closed.  So I had never had a chance to see it!  Luckily (I guess) my luggage was lost and I had to stay in Rome an additional day.  I thought it was a great time to take the tour of the Vatican! Finally!

It was a Monday morning around 9 AM…I took a taxi to the Vatican and the lines were long!  As I got into the line…the traditional tour people asked me if I wanted to skip the line and join a personal tour.  I looked ahead at the line and agreed.  Sometimes you feel as though you are getting ripped off…but this actually turned out to be a great tour!  It was 3 1/2 hours long and they took you everywhere!  I had in my pocket a picture of this shot I had found one day and always wanted to take it!  My goal was to find this spot.

As our group gathered at the Vatican Museum back entrance…I took a seat and prepared my camera.  We began the tour and I eagerly looked for this location.  The tour was just about complete and we were finishing up at the entrance to St. Peter’s square.  I was sad…I had not seen the stairs.  I took out my picture and showed the guide.  She told me it was all the way at the beginning of the tour!  Yikes!  She said I could try and go backwards to find it.  I used my noggin and told every security guard on the way…I lost my tour and showed them the picture – can you point me in the direction of the stairs – this is where they are located.  I was stopped 4 times and one time had to show my ticket.  The guards were all very nice and helpful! 

I finally got to the location and had a good laugh.  When I first sat down at the beginning of the tour…the steps were right there over the edge…because I sat down I did not see them.  Too funny!  But I made it back and took this picture.  It was a fun tour indeed.  I knew I wanted to capture the whole stairs…so a wide angle lens was needed!  I opened up the aperature as light was needed also.  I took about 20 shots hand held and this was the best!  I tried an HDR…but it didnt look correct.   Definately on of my favs…it is mounted in our family room along with the view looking up the stairs (I’ll post it tomorrow).  I was proud to work for this picture…it was worth the effort. 

After this day…before my trips – now I make a list of pictures at the location I am visiting  that are priorities to shoot.   Then I try to complete my task list.  Gives you focus.  It works wonders!  I’ll tell you more about the Vatican and Rome tomorrow.  Have fun!