Some sights along the way

In the mornings Campo de Fiori is a bustling food market offering plenty of bright and colourful photo opportunities, and a popular haunt for people out for a drink and a bite to eat lunchtimes and evenings. In 1600 however the unpaved piazza was the site of the philosopher Giordano Bruno’s punishment for heresy by being burned alive at the stake.
Behind is Piazza Farnese, setting of Puccini's opera Tosca, with its 16th Century Palazzo Farnese (present French Embassy) built in part by Michelangelo, and two magnificent fountains made from two giant basins originally from the Baths of Caracalla.
While we are at this location we will cover various photographic themes, including:-
Street and urban photography.
People and reportage. Anticipating events and “hunting” for a photograph.  Still life in situ: e.g. fruit, flowers etc. on the market stalls.


The most famous symbol of ancient Rome, and the first thing that visitors want to see when they come to Rome. Started by the Emperor Vespasian in 72 A.D. and finished by his son Titus eight years later. The inauguration games lasted 100 days during which over 9,000 wild animals were killed. The colosseum, which was known to the Romans as Amphitheatrum Flavium after the Flavian dynasty of the two emperors, possibly got its name from a colossal statue of the reviled Emperor Nero which stood nearby for many centuries. The finished amphitheatre could hold over 50,000 spectators and was clad in white marble, and its upper arches housed a total of 160 statues. In medeival times much of the stone work was used to build churches and palaces, until in 1749 Pope Benedict declared it a sacred site and forbade its being used as a source of cheap building materials.


First built by Agrippa in 27 BC and dedicated to all the gods. Hadrian restored it in the 2nd Century AD after it had burned down. The entrance is under a porch supported by sixteen monolithic granite columns. Its most famous feature is the self supporting antique dome with its round central opening. Described as “the perfectest of all the antiquities.” Situated in the lively and bustling Piazza della Rotonda full of pavement cafes and surrounded by Renaissance buildings.

Piazza Navona

Stunning example of Baroque architecture, this the most suggestive of Rome’s squares Piazza Navona owes its long and narrow shape to Domitian’s stadium over which it was built. Splendid setting for Bernini’s Fountain of the Rivers, complimented by the Fountain of the Moor at the southern end and the Fountain of Neptune to the north, both by Giacomo della Porta. From 1652 to1866 the fountains’ drains were blocked on August weekends so as to flood the square, much to the delight of the Romans. A must for Roman families at Christmas is to go and see and to buy from the stalls selling figurines for the Italian nativity displays.

Campo de Fiori

In the mornings Campo de Fiori is a bustling food market offering plenty of bright and colourful photo opportunities, and a popular haunt for people out for a drink and a bite to eat lunchtimes and evenings. In 1600 however the unpaved piazza was the site of the philosopher Giordano Bruno’s punishment for heresy by being burned alive at the stake. Behind is Piazza Farnese, setting of Puccini's opera Tosca, with its 16th Century Palazzo Farnese (present French Embassy) built in part by Michelangelo, and two magnificent fountains made from two giant basins originally from the Baths of Caracalla.

Saint John in Lateran

The archbasilica of St. John in Lateran is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, in other words, the Pope. Constantine had the church built on the site of the demolished barracks of the imperial cavalry soon after becoming emperor. It was dedicated in November 318. Throughout history the church has been rebuilt several times, having been destroyed in an earthquake, sacked by the Vandals and burned down at least twice. The present structure, dating mainly from the late 16 C. is by Domenico Fontana, Pope Sixtus V's preferred archtitect (later Borromini renovated the interior around 1650), still retains the plan of the original church. The two-storied poticoed facade was completed in 1735: the central bronze doors are from the Roman senate. Besides the cathedral there is a 13th C. cloisters (all that remains of a Benedictine monastery) as well as a baptistry, and across the road, the Scala Sancta. Said to be the steps on which Jesus stood to be judged by Pilate, medieval legend relates that they were brought to Rome by St. Helena, Constantine's mother. Pilgrims still climb the steps on their knees (twenty-eight in all) to gain indulgences of nine years for every step.

Trevi Fountain

One of Rome's favourite monuments, in 1629 Pope Urban wanted Bernini to renovate the existing fountain which marked the end of the Acqua Vergine, a twenty kilometre long ancient Roman aquaduct and canal still supplying water to the fountain. However the project was shelved when the pope died.Then in 1732 Nicol� Salvi’, a Roman architect, was commissioned to build the fountain, which was not completed until 1762. It is famous for being the setting for many film scenes, the most famous of which of course “La Dolce Vita” by Fellini. Anita Ekberg had no problem wading in but apparently Marcello Mastroianni polished off a bottle of vodka in order to brave the cold water. Don’t go wading in now, just throw a coin into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome.

Rione Monti

The Rione Monti (rione simply means district, and monti,mountains) owes its name to the fact that it occupies three of Rome's seven hills. In Roman times it was an overcrowded area of ill repute and named "Suburra." In the middle ages when the aquaducts fell into disrepair the population declined and it became an area of vineyards and vegetable plots. The remaining inhabitants were fiercely insular and held stone throwing fights in the Forum against their biggest rivals from another working class district from across the river, Trastevere. In the 19th century the area was re-developed, remaining a very working class area with sweat shops and small factories. Nowadays the area is a favourite with ex-pats, while still retaining its identity. Family butchers' shops and pokey hardware stores, rub shoulders with trendy book-stores and caffs. Trattorias that still serve genuine Roman cuisine are just a few doors away from an Indian restaurant. The knife grinder and wicker-worker carry on their businesses while locals and foreign students sit around the fountain in the main square.

Bernini's Elephant

This curious little statue by Gian Lorenzo Bernini stands in the square in front of the Dominican order's church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The Dominicans had found an Egyptian obelisk in their monastry garden in 1665, and Pope Alexander VII, the same who commissioned Bernini to build the twin colonade in Piazza San Pietro, asked him to find a suitable support with which to stand it in Piazza della Minerva in front of the Dominican church. It is possible that Bernini got his inspiration for the elephant from a book published in 1499 called Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in which there is an illustration from a woodcut of an elephant with an obelisk on its back very similar to the statue. Originally Bernini had wanted to use the elephant's legs as the only support, but a Dominican friar opposed the design insisting that the obelisk would not stand for long. Bernini was forced to concede and he fashioned a cube, as if it were part of the obelisk passing through the elephant's back, but completely covered by its saddle cloth, to provide extra support. In consequence giving the elephant a dumpy appearance. Bernini's revenge for this interference in his artistic and architectural skill was to rotate the statue so the elephant's rear end faces the Dominicans' monastery.

Ponte Sant'Angelo

The Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and his dynastic successors, and completed in 139 A.D. Incorporated into the cities defensive wall in the early III Century it was a key element in saving the Vatican from the Goths and Vandals later the same century. Offering an almost impregnable stronghold, in the middle of the XV century Pope Nicholas V had sumptuous appartments added to the upper reaches and the castle became a papal residence until the early 1600s. The dungeons were used as a prison up until the late 19th century. the Ponte Sant’Angelo, built by the Emperor Hadrian in 133 A.D. as a triumphal entrance to his impressive mausoleum on the right bank of the Tiber, which over the centuries became transformed as Castle Sant’Angelo. The bridge’s strategic importance until modern times as the only crossing over the river to Saint Peter’s has bestowed it a chequered history of tragedy and artistic showmanship. Along with the Piazza Ponte Sant’Angelo and the castle the bridge was a site of executions for centuries. Most famously that of Beatrice Cenci, beheaded at the age of 22 in the year 1599 for the murder of her violent father.

Via Giulia

Via Giulia was built on the orders of Pope Julius II in 1508. Its purpose was to ease traffic in the surrounding overcrowded streets that were forever thronged with pilgrims going to and from St. Peter's Basilica. The street, running parellel to the river, was at the time the longest, widest and straightest road in Rome and very soon the smartest and noblest families started building their palaces along it, with gardens down to the river. Also present were the embassies to Rome of various Italian states, and here they also built their respective churches, such as San Giovanni dei Fiorentini by Borromini and Saint Catherine of Sienna, the church of the Holy Spirit of the Neopolitans and Santa Maria in Montserrato of Spain. An archway, designed by Michelangelo traverses the street and was intended to connect the Palazzo Farnese with the Farnese family's summer residence on the other side of the river, though a bridge over to the far bank was never built.

The Jewish Ghetto

ITA The Roman Jewish community is one of the oldest in the world, having come originally from the Holy Land in the 2nd Century B.C. Under Julius Cesaer, who employed them for their connections throughout the Empire, they were treated well, and for most of the period of the Roman Empire. However, in 1555 during the Catholic Counter Revolution Pope Paul IV issued a papal bull establishing a Jewish ghetto and forcing the Jewish population of Rome to live there. Built on a frequently flooded bend in the river Tiber, around two thousand people were crammed into a seven acre site. Gates were set into the walls that were locked at sunset and reopened in the morning, and if venturing outside of the ghetto during the day the men were made to were yellow hats and the women yellow scarves. Jews were also prohibited from carrying out any profession or trade except selling second hand clothes or money lending. Several drapers’ shops and assorted clothiers are still to be found in the area. It was not until 1870 when Rome was invaded by Savoyard troops and became part of the new Italian Kindgom that the Jews became full citizens free to live anywhere and to practice any profession. The ghetto today remains almost exclusively Jewish, the people proudly conserving their identity. The street is where everyone meets and socialises, and the restaurants in the area serve Romano Jewish food; the real original Roman cuisine.

Piazza del Campidoglio

The Piazza del Campidoglio, (Capitol Square) sits in a dip of the Capitoline hill, Ancient Rome's religious and political centre. Here stood the Temple of Jupiter, the Best and Greatest, under whose statue the city treasure was stored, and that of his wife, Juno Moneta, where the Romans also minted their coins. Another important building was the Tabulairum housing the state records, over which the Palazzo Senatorio, present day Rome's City Hall, was built in the 12th C. The buildings were left unused in the Middle Ages and goats grazed among the ruins, until in 1536 Pope Paul lll commissioned Michelangelo to restore the square to make a setting fit to receive Charles V Holy Roman Emperor on his visit to Rome. Michelangelo turned the square around to face the modern city rather than the Roman Forum. A mixture of ancient Rome and the Renaissance, the centre of the square is dominated by the bronze equestrian statue of the Emporer Marcus Aurelius.

Piazza di Spagna

Spanish Steps. The Piazza at the foot of the stairs, Piazza di Spagna took its name from the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See who took up residence in the Palazzo di Spagna. Popular with the English on the grand tour of the 18th century and subsequently associated with Keats, Goethe and Stenhal. The steps up to the church of the Holy Trinity were built purposely to exagerate the effect of perspective and create a tromp l’œil illusion popular with the Baroque. At different times of the year the steps are covered in brilliant coloured flowers.

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