St. Peters Basilica San Pietro Vatican Rome Italy
Pre-dawn at St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican Rome Italy

Canon 5d mkII EF70-200 at 120m ISO 100 f11 2.5 sec

Rome, Italy

Evading the law isn’t something that I would ever advocate.  As a law-abiding person, I feel it’s very much my responsibility to live within the rules of the land that I’m in.  But sometimes, just sometimes, breaking the rules can be a good thing.  Even necessary, if not a little fun.

The rules within the huge Piazza San Pietro (immediately in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral) are pretty clear – no tripod use allowed.  I know the arguments for this and realize that a bunch of tripods on a crowded day (when is it not crowded?) would be a danger.

But what about at sunrise?  I’ve been to the Piazza 8 or 10 times before sunrise – most of the time I’m the only one there.  That is except for the 4 or 5 uniformed Carabinieri that prowl the piazza.  I use the term ‘prowl’ rather loosely.

The Carabinieri don’t want to overstress themselves – they would rather stand on street corners in groups of 3 or 4, looking grand in their spiffy Armani uniforms and telling stories to each other.  What is it with the polizia in Rome?

I plan my strategy; the first few shots will have to be from the left side of the Piazza.  This is for several reasons; they’ve just finished cleaning the fountain on that side, the
rising sunlight first hits this area, and the Carabinieri have set up their post on the far RIGHT side.

Just as the rising sun transforms the ancient marble into fiery colors I begin to shoot with my tripod mounted camera – making sure to take every shot I can think of.  I’m guessing
that it will be over with rather soon.  Somewhere between my 3rd and 4th setup I notice
the uniforms beginning to move – they’ve spotted me.

They’re still a couple hundred yards away – and not moving fast.  I’m able to hide behind the fountain.  I get a couple more shots in before peering around the side of the fountain to see where my ‘trackers’ are headed.

Two of the Carabinieri are headed right towards me – nuts.  I wanted to get one shot from closer to the center of the Piazza, but that takes me right towards the oncoming tripod cops.  I move quickly towards them, compose shoot, move compose shoot… and then it ended.

The younger cop waved his finger at me, pointed to my tripod and said ‘no, no, no.’  I gave a heartfelt ‘mi dispiace,’ acting like a sorry but ignorant tourist, tucked my collapsed
tripod under my arm and headed off toward the back of the Piazza.

The Carabinieri have now moved all the way to the left side of the Piazza and I found myself all alone on the right side…  Time for some last quick shots!

By now the sun is high enough in the sky to illuminate all of St. Peters Basilica along with a large percentage of the huge columns on either side of the grand piazza.  It truly is a
beautiful scene in front of me.  I think I’ve been able to capture it – now where’s that cappuccino?


St. Peters Basilica Piazza San Pietro Vatican Rome Italy
First light of dawn on St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Rome Italy
Canon 5d mkII EF 24-105 at 45mm ISO 100 f16 1/15 sec