The Magic Keyhole in Rome

During part of a driving tour of ancient Rome this year, our (my wife's and my) tour guide drove us to a small courtyard on one of the hills near the Colosseum. As he parked the car, I noticed two rather serious looking militia with automatic weapons standing in the courtyard—and I hoped they weren't there for me! They had their fingers over the triggers the whole time I was there, though they seemed friendly enough as we passed by on our way to a mysterious door.

The tour guide told us that there was a delightful treat waiting for us; he told us to look into a small keyhole, not a half inch in diameter, and see what we could see. It was obvious many people had touched the door around the keyhole, so it had to be a somewhat popular thing to do.

My own suspicions made me hesitate from putting my eye to the hole—whenever I'm told to do something touristy, like rub the belly of a bronze Billiken statue, I remember what college kids did to such statues—but when my eye came into focus, I saw a brilliant and beautiful sight. A sight that cannot be adequately captured by a camera:

Rome from St. Peter's Dome (Cupola)

Rome from Copula of St. Peters Basilica

This is a panorama shot from the top of St. Peters Basilica in Rome (the Cupola is the Dome).

The image is 9611x2937, and if you view the original, you can see details down to some of the furthest buildings—such as the two small domes of St. Maria Maggiore, the dome of the Pantheon, the 'Wedding Cake' (Monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II), and more! If you zoom in, you can also see the cars driving to and from St. Peter's Square.

I shot this image series on a stormy day in March with my Nikon D7000. I stitched the images together with Adobe Photoshop CS5.