Saint Peter's Square will be restored to its 17th-century Baroque glory with a major renovation project due to be completed in 30 months, the Vatican's official daily said on Friday.
Work has already begun on part of the famous colonnade designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) - the sculptor and architect behind some of Rome's best-known landmarks.
It will restore the colours and the architectural integrity of Bernini's original design, the newspaper said, citing the head of Vatican technical services, Pier Carlo Cuscianna.
The project will encompass all of the square's 376 columns and pillars, 140 statues and 1,200 metres in terraces and cornices, as well as the Clementina and Gregoriana fountains and the Egyptian obelisk in the middle.
"Generous sponsors" are financing the project, Cuscianna said, without mentioning any names.
The Vatican Museums will oversee the work and two Italian companies Italiana Costruzioni and Fratelli Navarra have been selected to carry it out.