In the middle of my Eastern European Street Photography Tour, after Kraków and Prague, I had to make a detour to Rome, Italy to join the StreetHunters.net team for the filming of their new Street Hunt: Rome episode, which covers a Street Photography walk of Rome. This gave me the opportunity to be a part of scouting the city for production, be included as a Street Photographer in its filming, and spend some extra time there devoted to more Street Photography. We even had a local photographer to help guide us, which made experiencing this historic city that much better.
Rome is at the top of my list of cities because of all it has to offer and how much of it you can’t find anywhere else. Walking around Rome is truly an experience like no other. So here are my first impressions of Rome, from my personal Street Photography perspective…
7 First Impressions of Rome
(From a Street Photography Perspective)
1. One Giant, Open Air, Living Museum
There really is no place like Rome. You’re constantly surrounded by so much ancient history everywhere you go. It’s not a historical site here and there; they’re everywhere. The whole city of Rome is one giant historical site.
Walking the streets, you can’t help, but be in awe of your surroundings. It’s like being in an outside museum. No where is this more true than when walking down Via dei Fori Imperiali. This wide pedestrian street goes from Piazza San Pietro to the Colosseum, while surrounding you with ancient ruins on both sides along the way.
In a city filled with history like Rome, it makes for very unique atmosphere and backgrounds when it comes to Street Photography.
2. Italian Style
Italy is famous for their style and fashion. When out observing life for Street Photography, you really notice how much style the local people have. Both women and men, young and old, are dressed to impress. They care how they look and they know how to evoke plenty of personality and character through their individual style.
3. Food is Everything
Italian food is loved around the world, but nobody loves it more than the Italians themselves. With this love of food, comes plenty of passion and pride. Restaurants and cafes cover the streets and squares of Rome, with people constantly keeping them filled.
Rome is famous for pizza, of course, so you’ll notice plenty of pizza spots. From quick slices to fancy restaurants. Italy is just as known for espresso so the streets are lined with cafes too. Many of the places charge less if you don’t sit down so you’ll see people enjoying their espressos while standing up outside, just like they do at the quick slice pizza joints.
Then there are the more upscale italian restaurants all over the city, serving all the famous italian dishes and pastas. The abundance and importance of italian restaurants and cafes is a part of Rome’s atmosphere, and life, as much as any city you’ll find.
And, if you take a lunch break with a local, you won’t be back out on the streets for at least 2 hours. I found this out first hand :)
4. So Much to See
There’s no other city in the world that I’ve been to with more to see. Rome is jam-packed with things to see that you don’t even have to walk far to get to the next place. You’d need to spend a long time in Rome to really see it all.
This makes Rome especially nice for walking around. No matter which direction you head next, you’re bound to run into something interesting.
5. Squares & Fountains
Rome has squares scattered throughout the city. I doubt there’s another city with more squares than here, especially as many worth visiting. If you wanted to, you could just walk from square to square all day long and see plenty of the best parts of the city.
There’s a few things every Roman square has too. Beautiful architecture, elaborate fountains and plenty of people.
With so many squares full of people and atmosphere, it makes it easy to find Street Photography opportunities in Rome. Just head to the next square. You can also use this as your personal walking tour guideline. Pick a few squares to see that day and then walk from one to the next until you’ve seen them all.
6. Crazy Traffic
In the past, Rome has been named the most dangerous city in Europe for traffic accidents. After spending any time in the city, you’ll know why. Traffic congestion in Rome is notorious. This is partly due to an undersized public transport system and one of the highest cars per capita ratios in the world, at almost one vehicle per person.
Romans also love their scooters so even in the most narrow streets, you have to watch out for traffic.
All this traffic not only becomes part of the city’s scenery, but also it’s feeling. Modern vehicles packing the streets of ancient ruins. Rome is a city full of busy streets, with cars and scooters running around everywhere. Or stuck in one place, honking away.
7. The best exception for touristic cities
For me, too much tourism can take away from truly experiencing a place. I’m not usually a fan of cities overtaken by tourism because they can lose their authenticity. Rome is a big exception for me, though. It is without a doubt a very touristic city, but somehow it’s able to keep what makes it so special.
All that visual history everywhere can’t be ruined by tourism. The city is so full of style, beauty, culture, architecture, history, sights and everything else that makes it Rome. Crowds of tourists are no match for all that.
Overwhelming, No Place Like It
When Mark Twain first visited Rome, he called it “a museum of magnificence and misery.” After learning to understand the city and life, he forgot the “misery” part and just fell in love with the city. Walking on the ancient streets while constantly being surrounded by so much history is something you need to experience for yourself to really understand what makes Rome so special.
And then when you’re tired from walking around all those ruins, you can take a break to enjoy some of the best food of your life.
If any of you have been to Rome before, tell me about your experience and impressions of the city in the comments below! And stay tuned for more on Rome, including some of the best Street Photography shots I captured while there.