An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XI

The Ponte Sisto Across the Tiber with Michelangelo's Dome of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Background (LEO Design)

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish. 

The bridge crossing the Tevere (or Tiber River), shown above, is called Ponte Sisto. It connects the Jewish Quarter (where I stay) to Trastevere, the new "Williamsburg of Rome."  It was commissioned by Pope Sixtus (hence the name), and was built from 1473 to 1479. 

What's most important about the photo, however, is the beautiful dome glimmering in the background. It was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti—the world's greatest sculptor—in 1547 and work was begun under his supervision. At the time of Michelangelo's death (in 1564), the lower "drum" had been completed. Pope Sixtus assigned Giacomo della Porta to execute the construction to Michelangelo's design which was completed in 1590.

As beautiful as the dome looks from the outside, it is awe-inspiring from the inside. The dome rests upon four "piers"—each one commemorating one of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The dome's interior soars nearly 400 feet above the floor—dwarfing the altar and Bernini's baldacchino directly below (although it stands a whopping  95 feet high—more than ten stories high). the dome's interior is handsomely decorated with mosaic, stucco and a ring of 16 large windows. To me, the most heart-stopping element in the dome is the ring of wording, each letter over 6 and a half feet tall, where Christ informs his first disciple: "You are Peter (the Rock) and on This Rock I Will Build My Church . . . to You I will give The Keys to the Kingdom."  I can never help but imagine the overwhelming sensation, perhaps terror, Peter felt as he silently absorbed his staggering mandate.

We'll continue our summer holiday tomorrow. 


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248

Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts"

Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"