• John Thavis

Networks claim prime roofscape territory

The roofscape around St. Peter’s Square has been sprouting TV platforms like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

The idea is to give cameras an unimpeded view of the Vatican and, above all, the Sistine Chapel smokestack, to the right of St. Peter’s dome.

The networks learned the last time around that these rooftops and terraces quickly become prime real estate in Rome, so most have had contracts signed well in advance.

Their hosts are often religious orders, which gain much-needed income (enough to pay the utility bills for years, one would guess) but have to put up with hundreds of TV people traipsing through the premises.

One problem for the networks is that a clear view from one rooftop may quite suddenly be obscured by a new TV studio on a nearby building. So far, there have been squabbles but no wars.

Many of these TV sets are perched above sets of steep, winding stairs. The other day I followed a cardinal up to one of these aeries and had to admire his climbing skills.

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