In the not too distant past, one of the most spectacular light shows in the Eternal City was created at St Peter's Basilica.
On special occasions the exterior of the vast church would be lit up with thousands of candles. Evidence of this illumination remains on its giant cupola in the form of tiers of spiked metal plates.
The plates served as candle holders and on special occasions the Sampietrini (aka Sanpietrini), the name given to the workmen who maintain the fabric of the basilica, would nimbly caper up and down the cupola to light the candles, creating a breathtaking illumination of the most famous church in Christendom.
View the spectacle on YouTube.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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