Before my recent private encounter with Pope Francis for the presention of the biography I wrote about him, I had the way to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City; as we know, Pope Francis doesn’t live there, but in the unpretencious house, Casa Santa Marta, where I met him.
I been firstly on the incredible Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Scala Regia ( Royal Staircase) which is a flight of steps and part of the formal entrance to the Vatican. It was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in the early 16th century, to connect the Apostolic Palace to St. Peter’s Basilica, and restored by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1663 to 1666.
The site for the stairs, a comparatively narrow sliver of land between church and palace, is awkwardly shaped with irregular converging walls. Bernini used a number of typically theatrical, baroque effects in order to exalt this entry point into Vatican. The staircase proper takes the form of a barrel-vaulted colonnade that necessarily becomes narrower at the end of the vista, exaggerating the distance. Above the arch at the beginning of this vista is the coat of arms of Alexander VII, flanked by two sculpted angels.
Truly spectacular, this year, the floral decoration of St. Peter’s Square in Rome on the occasion of the Easter celebrations, on Sunday March 31. For the 28th consecutive year Flower Council of Holland created the impressive floral show to welcome the new Pope Francesco. The varieties most represented were white roses (3,000), daffodils (10,000 more than 6000 different colors yellow) and lilies (600). And, of course, the inevitable tulips in 20,000 various shades. A total of about 40,000 between plants, flowering branches and cut flowers were used to decorate St. Peter’s Square, the staircase and the central loggia. This tradition began in 1985. And also on the last Sunday, skilled hands and great creativity celebrated one of the most famous squares in the world.
Photos by Charles Lansdorp (Flower Council of Holland)
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