An unusual point of view..

March 27, 2013 / Local Interest
Rome, Lazio

The duomo in Florence is pretty much visible from anywhere along the edge of town. Even in town, if the street is aligned correctly, the duomo is always within eyeshot. There it sits, in the middle of town, set in the center of a plain, surrounded by hills. Pretty much omnipresent, from any angle.

st-peter-dome1In Rome however, the cupola of St.Peter’s is not that present, for the most part. You’ll certainly see it more often while walking some streets of Roma papalina (lit. the Pope’s Rome, aka the historic center). However, leave that flood plain area and the cupolone (big dome), as it’s affectionately called by Romans, pretty much disappears.

There are just too many hills in the way, the river has too many bends precluding straight lines of sight, and the basilica itself is perched upon a hill, set back a ways from a crook in the river. Besides the well known perspectives such as from Castel Sant’Angelo, you basically don’t see it much at all.

st-peter-dome6So when it does pop out between buildings while you’re running around town, or you catch a glimpse of its lantern through an acqueduct in Villa Pamphili, it’s definitely unexpected. It really shouldn’t be, of course.. at almost 500 feet from basilica floor to the top, it is after all the tallest dome in the world. That said, it’s hard in those moments not to think, “Hey, who knew you’ld turn up here?!”

And as for when you catch a glimpse of it, in town, with sheep in the foreground? Well.. how about everyone leaves their reaction to that in the comments section?





by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

12 Responses to “An unusual point of view..”

  1. GB

    Ok, here’s mine…

    It’s definitely a conspiracy! I think they’re impostor sheep, planted there by the regional tourism office that put a bit too much Byron Keats and Shelley in their pipe and smoked it.

    I mean really… sheep? Grazing downtown Rome!?

  2. Good one, GB. Something reassuring about it always being there. Eternal city, et al. And, where would the pecorino, ricotta, and abbacchio come from if there weren’t these sheep all over the place? Oh, for some coratella for this weekend!

  3. Alex Cicchinelli

    GB, HOw could you not mention the keyhole view in such an article. I am sure you have a picture of that. Alex

  4. Angela De Marco Manzi

    I love the order of the photos, almost going backwards in time from present day to Ceasar with the Cupolone present. Almost mystical.

  5. Hmm,GB, “imposter sheep”? Up ’til the late 60s many people in the Italian colony here in Berkeley (and nearby Albany, El Cerrito & Richmond), California had a cow, milk goats, and the ever popular chickens; until ten years ago I had 13 chickens three ducks and my beloved Melina the Goose<3. Having grown up with a constant 130 chickens, fifty rabbits, and diverse poultry to this day I see a life without food animals is as a life wasted and boring… So, yes, I can see sheep in Rome without being imposters, for sure the idea isn't incongruous to the contadino's penchant for seeing a chance for producing food no matter where he/she looks, every free bit of land is an opportunity(!). Thanks for the article GB.

  6. What I tell friends who are going to Rome is that the usual 3 day tour of Rome (self-guided or otherwise) is much too short to appreciate the glories of the Eternal City and its surrounding treasures within a 30 mile radius (Tivoli, Castello Gandolfo, Ostia Antica, etc. etc.). I have lived in Rome for months at a time and have tried to see and experience ‘everything’ but still manage to find new treasures on every visit. St. Peters itself is worth at least one full day all by itself but most people try to cram it in with a same-day visit to the Vatican. They wind up shortchanging themselves in visits to both due to lack of time. Rome is far too wonderful to give it only 3 days and then cross it off your bucket list. My God, you can spend days wandering its quaint streets, days more sitting in piazzas engaging in that most pleasant of distractions, people-watching over a cup of espresso. And then there are the fabulous churches besides the “Big 4 or 5″…there are many small, ‘unpretentious on the outside’ churches that are undiscovered gems inside… undiscovered that is except by the cognoscenti.

  7. bob paglee

    The best view of St. Peter’s is from the banks of the Tiber, but on the opposite side.

  8. William Strangio

    Totaling up the time I have spent in Rome, its close to two months. I have made an effort to see of much of it as I could,
    however Rome is just loaded with really interesting items so the
    percentage of items that I have experienced is just a small
    amount compared to what is there!” One lifetime is not enough!”

    Three days in Rome is ridiculous! Five days just to go by
    and not really experience it better! However no one is an expert
    unless they really work at it. By the way there is a good view of
    St. Peters from Diocletian’s palazzo on the west side that
    overlooks the Circus Maximus.

  9. My son attended seminary at the North American College on the Janiculum Hill. The view of the dome of St. Peter’s from the colonnade on the top floor was awesome. You felt like you were a bird looking down! I’ll never forget it!

  10. Eileen Biasone Kirk

    Re: Vatican view, if you see Shoes of the Fisherman, does anyone know from what vantage point some of the scenes were filmed, because the view is comprehensive?


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