VATICAN CITY — In just a few months, walking under Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s colonnade to head to the Vatican post office will no longer feel like going through a dark, cramped New York City subway station.
For the past five years, large sections of the 17th-century colonnade surrounding St. Peter’s Square have been obscured by metal scaffolding and painted chipboard.
But come January (or February… In Italy, they don’t like to nail it down too precisely), the colonnade will finally be unveiled in all its scrubbed down and spruced up glory. The project, which began in 2009, was supposed to take four years. One year behind schedule is almost a world record for Rome.
Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums told us today that the work was ready to wrap up. It cost a total of 5 million euro (almost $7 million) and required hundreds and hundreds of work-hours, he said.
Workers sandblasted layers of dirt and grime, much of it pollution from the surrounding traffic, and carried out extensive restoration and detailed touch-ups.
The finished columns and 140 statues of saints along the top look gorgeous. Here’s a shot showing “before and after” the cleaning that CNS senior photographer Paul Haring took in 2011 and several other pictures showing the work-in-progress.