Dome Refurbished

April 1, 2009 / Uncategorized
domework1While it might be unfortunate for the visitors who will be coming to see it over the next few months, the truth is that the renovation work on the dome of St.Peter’s basilica has been long overdue. Even Michelangelo, one of the last in a long line of Capomaestri (Basilica building superintendents) already then had to reinforce the four enormous piers that support this largest of all domes (137.7 feet in diameter) before it was even begun. Then, among other problems since, cracks began to appear in the 18th century, and so just like Brunelleschi’s solution for the duomo in Florence, heavy chains were brought in to encircle and secure it (just like the metal bands around a barrel).

domework2The entire operation will take quite a few months. The removal and transportation of the dome alone took a few weeks, with the two large cargo “Chinook” helicopters having to engage in some incredibly delicate flying to lift it and transport it. It has now arrived safely at a hangar at Rome’s Fiumicino airport where it will be lovingly reinforced and restored by a large group of leading architects, engineers, art historians, and construction crews from around the world.

In the meantime, to protect the priceless sculptures and artifacts inside the basilica, a temporary geodesic tensile-structure dome has been built to cover the 137.5 foot diameter gaping hole. Visitors and experts alike have been commenting that the light given off inside the basilica due to this temporary blue tarp is quite unique and mesmerizing. Rightly so however, in order to let some natural light in there is talk at the moment of cutting an opening in it. Among the shapes considered is that of a … smile… pesce d’Aprile!

(Literally “April’s fish”, aka April fool’s). Best regards to all!


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

22 Responses to “Dome Refurbished”

  1. Oh diamine… ci sono caduta come un’allocca…. continuavo a pensare “ma cosa… e non hanno scritto nulla su Repubblica…!!!”
    Veramente simpatico!

  2. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    A charming April Fool, GB. You locked the reader into the serious tone – until the Chinooks arrived! The doctored photos are capolavori. Bravo!

  3. sharon

    Good one GB! You had me going and I was sorry that I was missing all

  4. Totally taken in until I saw the big heavy Dome and the little helicopters and thought “waiiittaminit”!

  5. Well! You gave me a good laugh this morning as I was falling for your April fool’s joke “hook, line and sinker” as they say!!! Bravo! Good one!

  6. louise

    Wonderful! Double thumbs up today. Shows the power you have over your Italy-hungry readers. We’ll believe anything, almost! Thanks for the smile.

  7. Leslie

    Bravo! As an architect, I’m ashamed to say you had me for a bit ~ I’ll have to pass this on.

  8. Wow! You really had me going, until I saw that last photo of the dome being carried away by the helicopters. The best April Fools’ prank I enjoyed this year!

  9. Dan in Montclair, NJ

    Absolutely brilliant. I thought, goodness, even the New York Times missed this story?

  10. Enrico

    When I began to read I thougth : ” Enough of these lies.Stop for ever with it’s too much stupid and fake.” But when I did realize it was a 1st April joke, I thougth that the originator deserves my best compliments about his very funny idea.

  11. J. Sue Christensen

    I was just in Rome last week and thought, “What is this? How could it just happen?” I was really taken in – a GREAT April Fools story!!!

  12. LOL! You got me! Right up to the end I thought this was for real and was wondering why I ahdn’t heard about it before!

    I should ahve known better as I had walked all the way to the top of the dome once during a visiit to Roma…it was a remarkable experience!

  13. Rosalie

    GB, really glad I read my mail before bedtime!!! YOU GOT ME, Hook,Line and Shinook, like a first class schnook!!!…’Twas delicious, delightful, delirium…Thanks, dearie…

  14. Yvonne

    People in the Internet spot, here in Venice, wondered why this mad woman had burst out laughing!! That was a good Pesce d’aprile joke. I shared it with the Italian man next to me, he liked it.


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