Saturday, May 25, 2019

Day 25 - Piazza San Pedro

This is from just outside St Peter's Church. Here at St Peter's square you'll find another Egyptian obelisk (find it in the top picture) as well as the Doric colonnades, four columns deep, which embrace visitors in "the maternal arms of Mother Church". On top of the colonnades and the buildings are statues of  140 saints that watch over the square (bottom picture, of course).

This was our last stop in the Vatican and we left of a rather late lunch, or would it be dinner? "Lunner" perhaps haha, yeah lets go for that, we went for Lunner, quite famished from walking around for hours on end, but very satisfied with our experience. The Vatican was easily the high point of our trip to Rome and nobody who travels to the city should miss it.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Day 23 and 24 - Tranquility

You didn't think I'd only have one post for the largest church in the world did you? Definitely not!

The top shot is of the inside of the dome I wrote about as I showed the first pictures of the Vatican. It's in the middle right above the huge wooden altar in the bottom shot.

The bottom shot is only a shot a short distance away from the other wide angle shot I showed you yesterday, but it also shows how the basilica stretches out to the sides.

Walking in the basilica, we were very lucky to get to hear the choir practice. I don't need to tell you that the acoustics made it sound even more beautiful. Let's just say I got goose bumps...


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Day 21 and 22 - St Peter's Basilica

Ok, you knew this was coming... This is another must see - the world's largest Christian church, Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano. And wow is it grand! You could fit my two story house with a basement and an attic inside it many times over. It's hard to imagine anything being so large, and it's even hard to grasp its size when you're inside it. Man was not made to make sense of vast spaces like that. It covers an area of 2.3 hectares (or 5,7 acres). You could fit over 80 000 people inside it.

They started building the basilica in 1506 and it took a whopping 120 years to finish! Can you imagine! Several of the architects didn't even live to see it finished!

In the middle, underneath the altar you'll find what is considered to be the tomb of St Peter himself, as well as tombs of many popes. We went down there but, just like at the Sistine Chapel, photography was prohibited. 


Monday, May 20, 2019

Day 20 - Sensory Overload

Here is a good example of what I meant a couple of days ago when I said that you easily get lost in all the things there are to look at in the Vatican Museum. There are several rooms like this where art is all around you - the floors, the walls and the ceilings - and very rich at that.

This corridor is called the Gallery of Maps. The maps, 40 of them in total, were painted between 1580-1583 by Ignazio Danti, a famous geographer of the time. Danti wasn't only a cartographer though, he was a man of many talents and was also a priest (a bishop in fact), a mathematics professor and an astronomer.

As you can see the maps are quite large - 15 by 16 feet in size - and quite detailed. They're all of regions of Italy. The towns, villages (and even hamlets) are painted with great accuracy and upon close inspection you can even see historical incidents occurring in each area, or find important characters like Christopher Columbus.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Day 19 - Marble and Stone

Continuing on with the Vatican Museum theme, here is another example of what the interior looked like. I find rooms like these quite tasteful - discrete natural colors and nothing too excessive. I absolutely love the classical style and I also like the subtle differences in the colors of the stone. (We'll save some examples of "sensory overload rooms" for tomorrow). 

The statues in the museum are beautiful, but it was not easy getting a clean shot of them as there are a lot of visitors in the museum every day. This was one of the very few clean ones that I managed to get, and the one that I like the most personally. It was the angle he angle that caught my eye, and the lighting, though admittedly statues like these look great in just about any lighting. The interplay between background and foreground was interesting as well but I wish I had brought my 55-300 mm lens so that the background would have become a bit softer. That's the price you pay for convenience I guess, but I doubt that I would have been able to get the composition right with it, since it would have required me to stand farther away (I don't think there was room for that). Also there's the light issue. More zoom requires more light or you'll get a slight motion blur, so I guess it was for the best in the end... you can't have everything, and lugging around gear is not that practical in a museum like this where there are a lot of people - the smaller you are the easier it is to make your way through the crowds.

Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the top statues, but the bottom one is of Laocoön - a figure in Greek and Roman mythology - a Trojan priest who was attacked, with his two sons, by giant serpents sent by the gods. The statue is larger but I really like this close-up of only Laocoön. It makes you notice some really nice details like the veins in the arms and torso. The statue was made somewhere around 200 BC but it's likely a copy of a bronze original. In turn, this marble version may not be completely original, as it shows signs of heavy restoration. Nonetheless, it's
considered a masterwork.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Day 18 - Vatican Museum

So, as I mentioned an earlier day we took a guided tour of the Vatican Museum. It's something I highly recommend, since you get a lot of interesting info that way and you get all the best pieces pointed out to you. Had I walked around in there willy-nilly I would never have appreciated it as much as I did with a guide. Also, the place is grand, in more ways than one. It's large, sure, but there are also so many pieces to look at and the interiors themselves are gorgeous too. As you walk here you get a sensory overload I've seldom experienced, and if you don't have someone to guide you through it you'll get lost in it. Even with the guide, I got totally engulfed by some of the paintings at times... The museum is a wonderful experience.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Day 17 - Serenity

This is that same dome - the St Peter's Dome - that I shot yesterday, but this is shot from inside the Vatican. The dome was designed my Michelangelo himself who started the project when he was 71 years old. After he died, his student completed the work and it was finished in 26 years later, in 1590. The dome is 136 m high and 42 m in diameter. If you want to climb to the top, it's a whopping 491 steps to the top. Sadly, we didn't do that though. We ended up going the other way, climbing down to the tombs of the popes beneath the cathedral, and after that we were utterly famished, so we left the country to go get a bite to eat... 

What a strange thing to say eh? Leaving a country to go eat something... There are actually a few restaurants inside, but we're a picky couple when it gets to food. We travel as much for the food as for anything else and we carefully pick the restaurants we go to beforehand to avoid tourist traps and mediocre places. Apps like TripAdvisor is a great way to achieve that - it helped turn our trip into a wonderful food experience :)


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Day 16 - The Vatican

The Vatican... the world's smallest country... does it need an introduction? Not really I'd say. We went here on our second day. We had planned for it in advance and bought tickets to skip the long waiting lines and get a guided tour to the highlights of the Vatican Museum - a thing I highly recommend if you plan on going there (the lines were looooooong). You can get them on the official homepage for a modest fee, or buy them for considerably more from people who make a living off selling them on the street outside. If I had a nickel for every time someone tried their routine on us I'd afford a whole bundle of tickets. Must have been something I carried with me... hehe... my bulky DSLR wasn't exactly screaming local signorina. I'd never trade it for a compact camera though, but sometimes I wish it was more discreet.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Day 13, 14 and 15 - The View

Sorry again, it's been... I guess "hard" is the right word... these past few days and I haven't had the time or energy to do my daily shots. Like I said when I started this; I've been on medication during our trip. Coming home I had to taper it down, since my doctors don't want me on it, and as a good compliant patient I tried my hardest to do so...

Going to Rome and realizing what I am supposed to feel like - having the energy I used to have before I got sick, being able to take walks again etcetera... spoiled me... is that the right word? I don't know... I don't really have a word for it but tapering back down to zero meds became extremely hard once I had a reference to what I should feel like. My health has declined so slowly over so long a time I hadn't really noticed how bad it had gotten. Going from being an ordinary person, to a person that feels super tired and confused all the time no matter how much I sleep, to being short of breath again, to having aching joints and super dry skin... I just couldn't... how could anyone? When you know that one little pill can make you feel so much better?

Anyway I contacted my doctor and he made me promise to try to go back to a minimal dose, so that's what I've been trying to do these past weeks, but it just didn't do it for me. I felt a tad better than before, sure, but feeling a tad less like something the cat dragged in is was way short of being on an acceptable level. Yesterday I gave up and went back up a dose, and now I feel like a human being again. A wonderful feeling, something you only understand if you've been chronically ill yourself. A healthy person can endure much when they fall ill because they know that it will pass, but imagine it being never ending... Anyway, I just wanted to explain why I've been missing a few days lately, and wow did it turn out way longer than I planned...

So... these shots are of the view from Terrazza delle Quadrighe. In the first picture you'll see the roof of the Panteon, and behind it to the right the Supreme Court. The second picture shows the Roman Forum and the third is of the Colosseum of course.

You also get a bonus shot today. It's of a seagull that landed right on top of the telescope that Mr was looking through. He I didn't even realize it was sitting there until I told him to look up haha. Boy did he freak out! I didn't get a shot of it actually sitting there though, that would have been too funny. 


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Day 12 - Winged Victory

I had trouble finding facts about the statues on the roof of Altare della Patria beyond their names and who made them. This is Quadriga della Libertà by Paolo Bartolini and on the opposite side of the roof terrace you'll find its counterpart Quadriga dell'Unità by Carlo Fontana. The terrace itself is named for them - Terrazza delle Quadrighe. The statues were completed in 1911 - the 50th anniversary of unified Italia - but they were not placed on the monument's roof until the year of 1930. As you may have guessed, Quadriga has something to do with the number four - it's what you call a chariot pulled by four horses.

As I went up on the terrace, the first thing that hit me, smack in the eye, was of course the gorgeous view. The next thing was the wonderful camera angle you get of these statues, contrasted against the sky. But how to make the shot different and even more bold? Break one of the basic photography "rules" and shoot straight into the sun of course. So I went to a spot that placed the sun in a way that made it look like a halo over the angel's head, and then waited for the clouds to move into a nice looking position. I hoped for the best and thought I'd worry about the lens flare later. It turned out to be an easier fix than I thought though, and I actually only got one green hued circle (with a tiny yellow one inside it). A few tweaks and some cloning later, and I dare you to guess where it was ;).

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Day 11 - Altar of the Fatherland

If you go from Piazza del Popolo and follow Via del Corso south you'll end up in front of this magnificent building. Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy. It was designed in 1885 and completed 50 years later, in 1935. It was a bit of a controversy when it was built, mainly because it destroyed a large area of the Capitoline Hill where a medieval neighborhood was situated, but it was also regarded as unnecessarily large and pompous.

At the monument you'll find the tomb of an unknown world war one soldier. It's right below a statue of the goddess Roma (the yellow part in the lower center), and beside it you'll find an eternal flame. Inside are various national relics like flags, weapons, decorated chests. For a fee you can get to the top terrace with a stunning view of the city below. 

As you may have gathered, we first came here on our first day. At that time I had not yet started taking my medicine, so naturally I was exhausted from the walking. Therefore, we didn't really "see" the monument that day. We wandered up the bottom stairs and went inside for a quick look, but since I was quite tired, we quickly went on our way to find a nice place to sit down, have a bite, and recharge a bit before heading "home". We went back another day though. But in the interest of not mucking up the most logical photo order too much, more shots from this place will follow shortly.

Day 25 - Piazza San Pedro

This is from just outside St Peter's Church. Here at St Peter's square you'll find another Egyptian obelisk (find it in the...