Last December, I embarked on my first trip to Italy; excited about seeing the famous sights, wandering down the Italian streets, having lots of local food and of course documenting this trip with some cool photos. I had a packed itinerary of things to see and do and Rome was first on my list.
There are so many major landmarks and architectural monuments of ancient Rome, each unique and beautiful in its own way that it makes it hard to pick a favorite. I say, visit them all if you can! However time is always against us, isn’t it?
Based on your interests, I would suggest that you plan an itinerary for each day that you are there especially if you have limited time. Also keep in mind that unique photos come from unique moments and don’t necessarily need to be connected to landmarks.
Take a look instead at the local people around you that make up a city, a country, or a continent.
Must see sites
The Colosseum (Colosseo), which is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World is a must see for anyone who visits Rome. It is such a popular tourist destination that it is quite difficult to take a picture without having people in the background.
While the building is only open to public during the day, I feel that it is worth going back to see it from the outside at night as it looks even more impressive when it is all lit up.
There were a group of cyclists getting into the spirit of Christmas while I was at the Colosseum one morning and I could not resist snapping a picture of them in their Santa suits. They make such a bright contrast to the neutral coloured buildings around them.
Although Vatican City is technically a country in its own right, St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica is a must visit, even if just to be in the world’s smallest country! You do not a need a visa or a border check, just walk from Italy to another country.
While in Rome I would not miss visiting the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain of course.
Street photography and graffiti
There are good photographic opportunities everywhere. Imagine a place where locals are always well dressed, even if only to perform the most mundane tasks such as a supermarket run. Just typical Italians who look impeccable even after a ride on a scooter.
Take a seat at a café, have a coffee and watch the spectacle around you.
This is a personal favourite of mine, taken in the heart of Rome. Of course, it incorporates one of my favourite things – Vespas!
To me, it was a perfect scene that epitomized Italian style – two men on classic Vespas with stylish helmets, and one of them trying to light a cigarette.
To be honest, I hesitated for quite awhile before whipping out my iPhone to snap the shot – I don’t like people to feel like a crazy lady wielding a big black camera is stalking them.
At the same time, I feel that if I had gone up to them and asked permission to photograph them, it may have ruined the moment.
The Metro system in Rome, although very easy to navigate, is in my opinion under developed for a city of its size. I was at the platform one evening when I saw a train with some cool graffiti on it approaching the station.
There wasn’t enough time for me to get my DSLR out of my bag, so I settled for my iPhone instead. What I particularly like about this photo is the blurriness caused by the movement of the train whizzing past.
Around Rome – Tivoli
Although Rome itself is fascinating, if you venture a little further out from the city center you will find many more landmarks with a wealth of history behind them.
Tivoli for example is home to many waterfalls and beautiful villas.
From this vantage point on the hills, you can get a wide view over the Roman Campagna and even spot the dome of the Sistine Chapel on a good day.
What equipment to use – DSLR or iPhone?
I find that lugging a DSLR around can get tiring, especially when travelling for long periods of time.
No doubt the DSLR takes great quality photos, but for me, the photograph is more about capturing the moment and being able to share it with people instantly without having to upload it to a computer, etc.
Where to stay and eat
Italy is such a well known food destination!! What I loved the most of the capital?
- Pizzeria Al Grottino – great place for woodfired pizzas
- Ristorante Baccano – good quality local cuisine
Where to stay in Rome? There are many options. The only suggestion I can give is to try to stay in the city centre.
The Adriatic Hotel is next to the Vatican City, which is great for some evening walk (plenty of Police cars around, good safe area). Clean and good price for this area
The other visited cities in this photography trip series