Monday, April 7, 2008

A visit to the Vatican Mosaic Studios

We had the unique opportunity to visit the official mosaic studios of the Vatican the other day, which turned out to be everything we could have hoped for and more. It was arranged by a priest friend of ours here in Rome, Fr. Mark Haydu, who is in charge of the department of the Vatican that solicits benefactors for the restoration of Vatican artwork. By good fortune our friends the Storys were in town visiting us so they got to come along as well.

We arrived at St. Peter's Square to a crisp breeze and slightly hazy day.

We took the "back entrance" past the exit from the Scavi to the entrance of the Studio, marked with a mosaic sign of course.

The head of the Studio, Paolo, explained its history to us before we got to see the work area. Here he shows some of the many colors the artists choose from before working on a piece.

One of the artists working on a Roman scene.

This is the vault showing some of the cubbies where the 27,000 different colors of smalti are stored.

Adriano, one of the artists, shows us a picture from his trip to Monument Valley, AZ.

We got to see the preparation of spun glass, or filati. This is a process where small cubes of smalti are heated at an extremely high temperature, until they become soft and melt together. The molten mass is then stretched out into thin rods and cooled, and the rods are then cut to desired lengths to make micro-mosaics.

A stunning Our Lady of Guadalupe mosaic that was nearly finished.

We next walked up the staircase where dignitaries and heads of State walk to be received by the Pope..... Fr. Mark's office, where he explained a little bit about his work and we said our goodbyes.

We walked out of St. Peter's Square and came to the restaurnt "L'Isola della Pizza" which I highly recommend, should you ever be in the area.

A shot of us all at the table.

On the way home we passed this guy riding his very unique bicycle....


Shannon Story said...

Ciao Antonio! I can't believe you already have this up! I think the artist who had the pictures of Arizona is also the one who made the mosaic that the Pope is bringing to the U.S. with him, right? Father Haydu was a wonderful host. I went to the website and noticed there is not a North Carolina chapter of the Vatican Patrons- should we start one??? Love to all De Piantes....
Ciao Ciao Shannon

DelGrosso said...

This would have been a great place to visit. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Dude! I think that guy lives on his bike. Great pictures!!!