How the dome seems to tower into the clouds ! Just to the right of it, over the houses near us, can be seen the Vatican palace, with its upper windows and broad, sloping roofs.
From this point of view the superstructure of the castle may be seen to good advantage, but, perhaps, not so much can be said of the angel, who has more the appearance of an eagle than of a celestial being.
One who is looking at this place will probably have several questions to ask at once, and one is, ” What bridge is that just before us? ” And if I answer, as I shall, the Pons Aelius, the same in front of which we were standing in our last position, you will reply : ” But the bridge looks so different, this one has high curving superstructure of iron work, and the bridge we saw before had only marble parapets.” You are partly right. But look again, this time more care-fully, and you will recognize the parapet nearest us, which may be seen plainly where the bridge approaches the opposite bank, as belonging to the Pons Aelius, the forms of its angels standing out some distance this side of the iron superstructure which belongs to an-other bridge beyond. The more distant iron bridge is of modern construction and was built to relieve the strain on the Pons Aelius, when it was discovered that the middle arches of the old bridge were giving away under the weight of nearly eighteen hundred years, during which it has braved tempest and earth-quake and the shock of battle.
Looking at the older bridge now, I can but call to mind the incident in the life of the famous Scotch-man, Thomas Carlyle, whose father was a stonemason, and one who had in his soul the spirit of the Romans even if their blood did not flow in his veins. ” Ah, father,” he said musingly, patting the stone butments of a bridge his father had constructed many years before over a rushing mountain stream among the high-lands of Scotland, ” your bridges will last longer than my books.”
And indeed, how few books, though written by the greatest intellects in ancient Rome, have lasted as long as this grand old bridge.
Again we will move away from the great dome, for by thus changing our position we shall the more fully appreciate its beauty and grandeur. This time we will go to the Pincian Hill, one of the most delightful spots in Rome. We saw the tree-filled gardens on the hill in the distance to our left when looking from St. Peter’s (Position 4). On the map some distance north of our present position we find the Piazza del Popolo. On the terrace northeast of that space is the number 22 in a circle with two bounding lines for our next field of vision branching toward the southwest.