Italy: Trip of a Lifetime. Part 5

Part of the Palatine enclosure, on the way to Trajan’s Column.

This series of posts, accompanied by photographs, records our recent stay in Italy. Having thoroughly enjoyed it, we wish to share our experience. You’ll get the almost full story of our travels, activities, and experiences; warts and all, in instalments.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

Trajan’s Column seen from a distance.

22nd September, Saturday.

After breakfast, again by the hotel restaurant windows, we set off on our last day in Rome to explore some of the other sights, using Maria’s list as a guide, and our street map to find them.

Some of the detailed carving that adorns Trajan’s Column

To Trajan’s Column first, as I wanted some closer pictures of this piece of history we’d passed several times at night. It was relatively early, so the crowds were still quite thin.

One of Rome’s narrow streets.

Once done at the column, we made our way to Piazza Venezi, and then along narrow side streets, trying to avoid the growing crowds, to the famous Trevi Fountain.

The famous Trevi Fountain

It was Saturday morning, so we’d expected there to be a crowd. We weren’t prepared for the sheer, overwhelming numbers of visitors thronging the monument.

Superb stonework on the fountain

Valerie climbed the few steps of a nearby church to escape the mass whilst I elbowed my way through the bodies until I reached the edge of the area where the water was visible.

Overwhelming crowds

So many people taking selfies, alone or in groups. I couldn’t escape the impression that most were there to prove they’d visited this prominent tourist attraction, rather than to actually look at the work of the sculptor.

Begging and ignored by most

I was able to take a few shots before I returned to join Valerie. An old woman was begging at the foot of the steps but few people seemed to even notice her. All that activity and so little concern for this victim of society.

Another column, on the way to the Spanish Steps.

We continued our exploration and made for the Spanish Steps. They, too, were covered in flesh.

Visitors catching the shade on the Spanish Steps

Once again, so many selfies exposed. Really, these two locations have become victims of their own fame and popularity.

Patience and quick reactions allowed me to get a shot with few people!

With such crowds, no one can really see what they come to look at. It brought home how easy it is for human beings to destroy the things they love by simply being there in vast numbers.

On the way to the river

Seeking sanctuary from the crowds, we made for the river.

The River Tiber

We walked the bankside road from Ponte Cavour to Ponte Umberto 1 before finding our way to the Piazza Navona with its three fountains.

One of the three fountains in Piazza Navona

There were plenty of people here, too, but the space made it much more pleasant as a location and we sat for a while with an ice cream each (Italian gelato is delicious).

A detail of one of the fountains

I took photographs of the statues, fountains and people. And we rested our feet with a short spell on a bench under the bright, hot sun.

A welcome beer at a trattoria in a quiet square.

We found, by accident, a small, quiet square with a tratoria with vacant tables and took advantage of that for a spot of lunch. We were entertained by a man with an electronic keyboard for a while, which was pleasant.

A dog lover helps his dachshund to a drink from a drinking fountain in the piazza

From there, we walked toward Piazza della Rotonda before sauntering back to the hotel for Valerie to complete our packing, and to rest before dinner.

Our route back took us again beside the enclosure that holds the Palatine Hill and many other relics.

This last day of sight-seeing was probably our most tiring and least rewarding, but we wanted to see as much of the city as possible before we left. What we saw most was a lot of other tourists.

Lovers caught canoodling in the window of a museum (don’t worry, they’re made of stone!)

Difficult to know what can be practically done to reduce numbers, but I fear that ever-growing crowds must ultimately prevent anyone from actually enjoying their experience as a tourist. And it must be daily hell for the residents.

The approach to one of Rome’s many museums

Our previous holidays have mostly been in relatively quiet resorts on the Greek islands, so our encounters with such great numbers, at a time of year we expected it to be quieter, came as something of a shock.

There were many buildings we passed but had no time to explore within.

We’d hoped to have our final evening meal in the hotel restaurant, but the whole place had been booked by a wedding party, so we returned to Osterio Maracuja, the place we’d eaten on other evenings, since the food was good and the staff lovely.

It seems steps in Rome (as in many parts of the world) are convenient sitting places for foot-weary visitors. These were on the way to our hotel.

Another enjoyable meal among other friendly diners, and a final wander along the main road to watch the light shows on the old buildings before turning in for the night a little sooner than usual, due to our early rise next morning.

14 thoughts on “Italy: Trip of a Lifetime. Part 5

  1. Thank you (one more time) for your nice words about Italy. Rome is always extremely crowdy, specially around the most famous monuments, and I agree with ypu, most of these people seem they don’t care about what they are watching, they want to say “I was here!”. I’m looking forword to reading about your next steps 🙂

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  2. We’ve never made it to Italy Stuart, but your days in Rome is what I would like to do. You did do a LOT of walking – hopefully that meant you had a good pasta dinner that night. I loved the picture of Trajan’s column. It’s quite something.

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    1. We enjoy walking; we try to walk every day in the forest that surrounds us, so we’re quite used to being on our feet. The food in Italy is generally great, Noelle, as is the wine.
      Trajan’s Column is fascinating. Ideally, there’d be a small lift to let visitors travel the whole height, but that’s impractical on a number of levels! Amazing to think it’s stood there for centuries, and in a country prone to earthquakes. Those Romans knew what they were doing.


    1. Thanks, Jeff. There are lots more on the other parts of this series. I was a professional photographer centuries ago, and I still send the odd pic to Picfair in an attempt to make a spot of cash from my photography.

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  3. A great visit to Rome. I agree the hordes of tourists can be annoying but I am sure Rome has always been a busy place with lots of people milling about. You managed to get some great photos though.

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    1. As we were part of the hordes, Darlene, I don’t suppose we can complain! But with tourism increasing all over the world, there are places where numbers will damage the very sites they go to see. I suspect there will come a time when some places of interest will have to use a system of limitation to prevent certain attractions being destroyed by over-attention.
      Glad you enjoyed the photographs. More to come over the next few weeks. Every Wednesday until I’ve covered each day we were in Italy.


  4. Another remarkable account. You habe an eye for detail, Stuart. Great shots.
    You’re right. Photography has become mindless. I wrote about it too. We fail to see the real beauty and real people, not to mention beggars.

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    1. Thanks, Bojana. I spent the early part of my working life as a photographer, some of it working for a local newspaper, as well as writing illustrated articles for the UK phottographic press. Photography has become too simple; people just point and click, with little concern for composition, But having a camera no more makes a person a photographer than having a pen makes them a writer, I suppose! I’m hoping here to share the beauty, wonder and interest I encounter whilst not skimming over the realities of life.


        1. Thank you, Bojana. Will do! Over the next few weeks I intend to get some of the shots onto Picfair, so people can order them as digital files, prints, and even framed prints through that outlet.

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