When in Rome Do as Much as You Can

Rome bested me in every possible way. It’s such an overwhelming city–the heat and dust, the traffic that won’t stop unless you walk directly into it, the emphatic gesticulation, the impassioned arguments on buses, the wide sweep of history that you try to take in, all in a day. We spent two and a half days in Rome, and it simply wasn’t enough. We were sightseeing 14 hrs/day! Even just looking through my photos in retrospect is overwhelming still.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona
Fountain of Four Rivers

Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain
As A said, a moment shared with a million tourists
Tower of Marcus Aurelius
Spanish Steps

Vatican City

Sarcophagus relief–fancy way to go.

Strategically placed fig leaf
Tapestries of the life of Christ
Rafael’s fresco
Raphael’s The School of Athens
The virtue of Poetry. Loved this one.
Hee hee, it amused me to no end that Renaissance artists were working from Biblical text that mistranslated the Hebrew of “rays of light” as “horns.” Poor Moses ends up looking so silly.
Oh shnap. Benedict totally got shunted.
St. Peter’s Basilica
I have to say, for going into a holy place, the line experience outside the Basilica is the unholiest experience I’ve had in a while. Tourists and Italians alike get mean and nasty jostling this crowd!!
A private service was underway when we were there, which meant that we couldn’t enter the nave, but it did fill the church with angelic song!
Keeping the tourists at bay.
So many things to take photos of, every which way!
Michelangelo’s Pieta
Colorfully stripped Swiss guards maintain crowd control–people have to shuffle in line just to get out of the Basilica!
The most amazing and necessary thing in our time in Italy were the spigots. Blessed, blessed spigots. There’s no other way to survive the Roman heat!

Borghese Villa and Gallery

I loved the Borghese Villa; wished we could have spent more time here.
It’s not an understatement to say that the Borghese is one of the most impressive museums in the world. It’s not as large as some, but every wall, ceiling and floor is covered with art. They’re quite strict about the 2-hour limit here, which is a pity, but it does help with crowd control so that you can actually enjoy the experience. Bernini’s sculptures literally took my breath away–and there is no photo that does them justice!
Lovely A, modeling the many hundred times we did this on our trip.

National Museum of Rome

Discus Thrower


Outside the Pantheon, at dusk. Lots of restaurants and tables line the plaza, and accordionists play their romantic songs. Quite a nice ambience!
Granita di caffe con panna. Best way to power up for another boost of sightseeing energy!
Even so, we kind of fell asleep when we sat down for a minute inside the Pantheon. The facade is certainly the most impressive with the recognizable architectural style. Inside and even more so from the back, you’d hardly think it was such an historic site.

Ancient Rome

Funny, I was going to call this section “historic Rome,” but Rome encompasses far too much history. Here, we had climbed the monument to Vittorio Emmanuele, who was the first king to unify Italy in the late 1800s. For all that the Roman empire represents, it’s odd to have learned only now that Italy as a country as we now know it was only founded a century and a half ago.

Overlooking the Colosseum and ruins of the Roman Forum

Courtyard in Palatine Hill
The ruins of the Temple of Vesta, home to the vestal virgins. I found the white flowers to be a bit gimmicky, but I also learned things I’d never known about the virgins and the severity of their punishment if they strayed from the pure path.
Arch of… Septimus? As happened to us at so many sites, we were getting rushed out 20 minutes before closing time here. Sad.
A last look at the faded greatness of Caesar. It was uncanny to sit on a felled column and think, Caesar might have leaned against this too.
The monument to Vittorio Emmanuele was built pretty recently–within the last 100 years?–and I think its placement absolutely had to have been strategic. As we left the Forum, which represents the greatness of Rome that is no more, it was striking to see a symbol of Italy’s modernity attempting to reassert itself. As if to say, I’m still here! I’m still relevant! Well, nice try.
The Monument from the front — absolutely massive.
Michelangelo’s staircase leading up to Constitution Hill.
Having been rushed out of the Forum, we sat atop Constitution Hill and watched the sun set over the ruins and contemplated deep things. And gave our legs a much-needed break!

Scooters and traffic

There are so many scooters in Rome–women in heels, men in suits, etc. It’s especially fun to watch the wave of scooters coming towards you when the light turns green. They rule Rome’s streets!
Ah, the impassioned Romans. I couldn’t understand this altercation, but it was fun to watch the lady go from frustrated gestures to pointing her finger at the other woman (whose fault she clearly thought it was), yelling, stopping traffic, and ultimately giving the police officers a hug.

Roman Holiday

I didn’t have enough time to more thoroughly research the filming sites in Roman Holiday, but I did have to see Via Margutta, Joe Bradley’s home. It’s become such a lovely, lush, posh street as celebrities have moved here, inspired by the film.

The security guards at the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin were the most good-natured people I’ve ever met who worked at a tourist site. It surely has to come with the job description. People line up outside the gate here to take this picture (as you can see, I had to do it too!). The security guard gladly offers to take your picture for you, tells you where to stand, and frames it quite nicely too. In between shots, he even reaches through the gate to take photos with the phones and cameras of passersby who don’t have enough time to stand in line.

18 thoughts on “When in Rome Do as Much as You Can

  1. I love Rome! We spent 8 days there and STILL didn’t see all we wanted. I too found the Vatican to be very pushy by locals, tourists and the guards constantly yelled to keep moving and no stopping. The wait to get in and most areas out of bounds was my least favourite. if we go back we will skip it next time. I think the arch is of Septimius Severes… could also be Titus, but from background I think you were right.
    Fantastic photos as always.

      1. I was asked to leave the Sistine Chapel for taking a photo with flash… even though I had a small camera and I was sure it wasn’t me but the person behind me with a big camera.
        I found the pushy people even worse.

  2. Ah Rome! I spent 4 days there and did manage to hit up a lot of major sites but it was rather rushed and jampacked. I would love to go back and take my time next time. Looks like you had fun!

    1. There’s never enough time!!! But I guess the key is you just have to make the time, and not feel bad about not going to this or that museum. And then just keep going back at every possible opportunity :)

  3. Fabulous photos of Rome at night! You don’t often see photos of Rome taken after sundown.

    Also, the Granita di caffe con panna looks VERY wonderful. Might have to investigate this further…

  4. Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.

    1. Thanks Max! Yes, I have been, but it was during the tsunami two years ago so ah.. we didn’t actually get to do much sightseeing then. I do want to go back though, as I’m sure there’s so much to see, eat and do!

  5. Great photos! I also spent about a day and a half there last summer. Unfortunately it was in the middle of a heat wave. It’s definitely a lot to take in in so short a span. A friend of mine said that, “You can only stand to see so many old, [grand] things in a day.” My favorite place was a little riverside bar. I was able to rest my aching feet!

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