Coliseum, Rome, Italy Wednesday, Sep 26 2012 

After seeing images from Trevi Fountain and Piazza Venezia, it’s time for the real deal. The most recognizable Rome attraction is the Coliseum, an ancient stadium where the plebs and emperors alike were entertained by gladiators, reenactments and animals.

Coliseum, Golden Hour

Coliseum, Golden Hour

I’m arranging the photos chronologically again, this time by choice. The first photo is a detail I wanted to grab because the “golden hour” window, when the light is best, was closing fast. I took my EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens and isolated this top floor of the Coliseum, showing the bricks placed at the end of the outer ring to prevent further deterioration of the structure.

Then, on the walk back up the Via de Fori Imperiali, after the sun already set, I took a look back and saw the Moon just barely rising over the Coliseum. I had to step into the street, and although the street-level shot is a little too crowded for my taste, it definitely turned out well.

Moon over Coliseum

Moon over Coliseum

A few days later, I would actually follow the crowd and go inside the place. I got a nice tour that explored the underbelly of the Coliseum, as well as its top floor. It was a truly magical time – it was difficult to comprehend that men built this place a few thousand years ago and that it still stands. I imagine people thinking the same at the Pyramids in Egypt.

Coliseum, Mid-day Sun

Coliseum, Mid-day Sun

The mid-day sun wasn’t kind to the photographs, however. Shown here is the look down on the main levels of the Coliseum from the top, or as close to the top as a tourist can get. Buy the extra tour, it’s well worth it.

Coliseum, from Palatine Hill

Coliseum, from Palatine Hill

Finally, here’s a look back to Coliseum from the field across, Palatine Hill. The whole area of Palatine Hill is an active archeological dig — there are even some fairly recent discoveries, despite the foot traffic around the Coliseum. In any event, this last shot is on Fuji Velvia 50 film. A few hours too early to fully take advantage of the golden hour, but still a nice shot from an elevated vantage point. What I like the most is a slightly sideways view onto the inner and the outer rings of the Coliseum. The fact that the outer ring survived all this time, even only at 50% or so, is quite remarkable.

Coliseum is one of those bucket list items, and I’m happy I can cross it off of mine.

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Piazza Venezia, Rome, Italy Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 

Yesterday, I showed you a few photos of Fontana di Trevi from my visit to Rome, Italy, and today I’m continuing Rome Week on the blog.

Piazza de Venezia is an enormous square right in the middle of Rome, dominated by the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, made in white marble, covered in columns, statues, steps, fountains and all sorts of other embellishments.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia

The monument is basically a celebration of the unification of Italy under Victor Emanuel. He’s the guy on the horse in the detail photo below (notice how the Italian flag unfolded into my shot just right). Since it was built on top of the Capitoline Hill, it’s visible from just about anywhere in Rome, but that’s also a cause for some controversy. The Wikipedia article even mentions some pejorative nicknames given to the monument, due to its size, color and artistic value (or lack thereof).

Vittorio Emanuele Monument, detail

Vittorio Emanuele Monument, detail

It’s undeniable, however, that the monument is still an imposing structure. I was particularly impressed by the sculptures on each side of the roof – they represent the goddess Victoria riding on a chariot pulled by four horses. You will also see a detail shot of one of the ends of the monument, showing the columns, the inscription “Civium Libertati” (“Freedom to the people”) and one of the Victoria sculptures.

The shots are inadvertently shown in the chronological order by the time of day. The first three were made on my way to the Coliseum; the top one is shortly upon my arrival to Piazza Venezia. I spent some time lingering at the square, so I caught the beginning of the “golden hour” of sunset, which can be recognized by the pleasing warm light on the two detail shots. The ending of this same golden hour will be shown tomorrow at another location.

The last photo below was taken at night a few days later. There was a full (ish) Moon during my visit, and I was able to compose a few shots with the monument and the Moon together. The monument is very nicely lit at night, but for some reason, the Victoria sculptures were almost not lit at all – you can barely make out the one on the right side of the photo.

The Dude on a Horse, aka Vittorio Emanuele II

The Dude on a Horse, aka Vittorio Emanuele II

As my Rome itinerary was pretty intense, I never got onto the monument, or inside it, but it seems that there is an elevator now that you can take all the way up to the roof. Since I said the monument can be seen from all of Rome, I can imagine that one could see all of Rome from the top of it. That definitely goes on a to-do list for a future visit.

Piazza Venezia at Night

Piazza Venezia at Night

What do you think about the monument – awesome or gaudy?

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy Monday, Sep 24 2012 

This week, I’ll be posting photos from my July trip to Rome, Italy. In a few short days, Rome became my favorite city in the world, so I’ll try to illustrate that with some images that I captured while there.

Trevi Fountain By Day

Trevi Fountain By Day

Although it may not be in the Top 2 Rome attractions, Fontana di Trevi would certainly be a contender for number 3 on the list. Undoubtedly, part of the appeal of this imposing structure is that it was prominently featured in Federico Fellini’s classic film, “La Dolce Vita”. In the iconic scene, Marcello Mastroianni and the voluptuous Anita Ekberg take a late night dip in the fountain, in full formal party attire.

If you tried to do something like this nowadays, you would be greeted with a shrill whistle from the carabinieri, and instructed to remove yourself out of the water immediately. As we’ll see in the next few days, Italians are pretty serious about preserving their monuments, and even though they allow you to get pretty close, they expect some measure of respect for their historic value.

Trevi Fountain At Night

Trevi Fountain At Night

I visited the fountain twice during my visit to Rome, because it was pretty close to the hotel in which I was staying. The first visit was at night, and that’s when the photo above was created. The fountain is tightly packed in between the buildings, so it doesn’t get direct sunlight during the “golden hour”, when the quality of light is best. So, my second visit was during the late morning hours, when I took the photo on top of the post; you can see harsh light creating some dark shadows. I just now realized with some horror that the city started a reconstruction of the facade in between my two visits – the scaffolding that is barely visible on the left of the daytime photo is absent in the nighttime version from a few days earlier.

Trevi Fountain, Las Vegas, NV

Trevi Fountain, Las Vegas, NV

In either case, the site was overrun with tourists. The streets around the fountain are narrow, but packed with cafes, gelaterias, and restaurants, so consequently, they are packed with people. It’s easy to see why — there are few better ways to spend some time in Rome than to eat some gelato in the company of Oceanus and his posse (As an aside, I thought that was Poseidon, but no – it’s his uncle Oceanus).

And a final note about the fountain. Several years ago, on one of my visits to Las Vegas, NV, I snapped this photo of what is obviously a replica of the Trevi Fountain, at the entrance to the Forum Shops – the indoor mall inside the Caesar’s Palace. It comes as no surprise that there is a replica of Trevi in Vegas.

If you’ve been to Rome, or Italy, please share your experiences in the comments below.

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