Papal Basilica: St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Square/Oval is impressive. It’s big, it’s grand, it’s busy, and there are lots of things to see.


To get into St. Peter’s Square required passing through security check points and sending things through x-ray scanners (like at the airport). Once inside, the square (really an oval shape) is pretty big. The size of the “arms” that wrap around most of the square make it seem not as large though, but you could definitely fit a few football fields in there comfortably.

While you’re busy looking up and admiring all the sculptures at the top of the arms looking down on the square, don’t forget to look down. In a few places you’ll see stone medallions embedded in ground marking various things. Around the central obelisk are markers for 8 cardinal compass points, while slightly off to either side of the obelisk are markers that indicate the center point of each of the arms.

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There are also markers for the astrological signs, positioned where the shadow of the obelisk falls at noon of the day each sign starts.

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A marker marks the spot where Pope St. John Paul II was shot

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The Basilica is huge. HUGE. You can find plenty of stats and lots of pictures about it online, but it’s one of those things that until you see it in person, it’s hard to appreciate the enormity of the place.┬áSeriously, it’s really big.

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Look at all the tiny people!

Everything in the Basilica is just stunningly beautiful. Murals, sculptures, paintings, everything. Take your time wandering around.

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The feet of the statue of St. Peter are pretty worn from people rubbing them.

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The main altar, built over top of the tomb of St. Peter. The baldichin (the canopy over the altar) is 20m tall!

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If you can, make sure to go on the Scavi tour (the necropolis underneath). It’s quite a fascinating tour that takes you beneath the Basilica and to the tomb of St. Peter. You need to book it well in advance and the tours are limited to small groups.

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It’s also worth the effort to climb up to the cupola at the top of the dome of the Basilica. Tickets are pretty inexpensive, and for a little bit extra you can pay for the elevator ride up to the dome level and climb the stairs the rest of the way. Totally worth it I think. It’s a lot of steps to climb even after the elevator, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

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Rome: Churches

The churches in Rome are without a doubt, spectacular and breath-taking. Even the simplest and smallest churches there that I saw made the ones I’ve seen here in the US seem plain looking by comparison.

We visited the four papal basilicas, the Pantheon and stopped in at a few random churches we happened to be walking by. It’s not hard to find a church in Rome. They’re more numerous than Starbucks in the US. Seriously, you can’t walk past more than a few buildings without encountering a church.

One of the first churches we wandered in to was Basilica dei SS Ambrogio e Carlo on Via del Corso.

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Most of the other churches were similarly decorated. If you leave Rome without having stepped into a church or two, you’ve missed out on admiring a lot of artwork.

Christmas moving

This year, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent moving us out of the house and into an apartment where we’ll be staying for the next few months.

Despite having gotten rid of and donated a bunch of stuff (especially the big things), there was still a lot of stuff to pack up and move. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff over the years in the house. We’ll end up donating and giving away more before everything is over.

We’re working on emptying the house so that minor renovation work can proceed unimpeeded: filling in a couple of walls where openings were made, replacing counter tops, carpet and vinyl flooring, repainting and a few other things.

We have stuff stashed in the garage, which will eventually be moved into a storage unit.

Once the work on the house is done, it will officially go on the market, and then we cross our fingers for a quick sale so that we can use the proceeds to pay for the new house (which is currently under construction).

Anybody want to buy a house? 1880 square feet, 4 bedrooms, large spacious living room, at the end of a cul-de-sac.

55 mm filters available

I have a few filters that I no longer need.

  • UV
  • Neutral density (ND8)
  • Circular polarizer

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The camera I used to use them with doesn’t work anymore.

If anybody would like any or all of them, just drop me a line.

Easement work

SCE&G had some workers out today doing some work on the power line easement behind the house. Over the afternoon, they took out a fair number of trees to widen the easement. Not sure what the reason was for all the tree removal, if it was just for moving the tree line back from the power lines, or something related to the planned move of the power lines that’s supposed to be happening further up the street.

Whatever the reason, it sure left a mess behind the house.

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