Photo Tour: Jerry's walk across Rome

I spent a week in Roma (Rome), Italy, early in December 2002. One day I took a long walk. I started by riding to the Piramide metro station, which is south of the city center, mid-morning. I crossed the Tevere (Tiber) River a few times and walked through Trastevere, a district of Roma with its own character. I crossed the Tevere again, around the bend, and headed for Vatican City. By the end of the day, I'd made it to the Ottaviano metro station, west of the center.

If you've seen other photos on this site, you know that most of them aren't of major tourist sites. You can find those everywhere! I hope that these (mostly) off-the-beaten-path shots and commentary will give you some idea about other parts of Rome.

You can click on any photo to open it in a new window. After you close that window, you should be back at this page.

I'll start with a photo from the middle of the trip. I'm on a tiny side street, quite a ways from anywhere. I wandered here after seeing what looked like an interesting photo at the far end of the street. Once I got my photos, I looked up on the wall to see, well, the kind of thing you can see when you aren't on a main street. These signs seem to be from Ferdinando Codognotto. He's helping the few tourists who make it out this way... or maybe he's just having fun. His shop, which turned out to be on the corner across the street, is full of clever wooden figures and a lot of other interesting stuff. Unfortunately, it was closed. If you're in Rome, though, I'll show you how to find his shop by the street signs... Directions ala Codognotto
Street sign number 1
Most street signs in Rome look something like this one: either on the side of a building... or, if there's no building handy, on a post. This sign is by the Tevere, near one of the beautiful stone bridges. At the moment I took this, I was checking my map, which I usually do about once a minute, to find out which twisty little street I've gotten to -- and whether it's the right twisty little street.
And that's what my eye caught when I was on Codognotto's street: the street sign, on the corner of the building, up a ways. "Okay," I thought to myself as I glanced up the wall, "now I'm on... huh?" I'll bet the artist enjoys watching people do a double-take when they see his very different street sign. Street sign number 2

a random piazza To the left is a typical piazza (if there's something special about it, I didn't write it down). A piazza is an opening in the mass of buildings and the web of streets; it can be just about any shape or size. It usually has an obelisk or a fountain. Most fountains are small, but one piazza has a huge fountain that fills it almost completely: the famous Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) to the right. These students are going through the famous ritual of tossing coins over their shoulders, backwards, into the fountain. Trevi fountain
Those piazzas (hmmm, that actually should be piazze) were a detour. In fact, this whole page has been a detour so far! Let's get to the walk. Here I'm crossing the Tevere for the second time... or was it the third time? (I wander a lot.) One benefit of walking the river is that the view opens up to the distance -- something that doesn't happen on many of the twisty streets. There's also more sun than in those narrow streets between high building walls. Ahead in the distance is where I'll be a couple of hours from now: Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica), in Vatican City. San Pietro from the Tevere
scooters, scooters...
Back to the twisty streets and piazzas for a while, though. Other than obelisks and fountains, another thing you'll see in your typical piazza is your typical bunch of motor scooters... and, in many cases, some cars too. If you're coming to Roma as a tourist, you can rent both cars and scooters, but I'm not sure I'd recommend either one. Unless you're used to driving in narrow streets, you may struggle to keep the car away from the people, the stuff piled along the edges, and from the building walls (!). To handle a scooter, you need to be good at driving on cobblestone (especially when it's wet...), dodging holes and people (and cars!). I've got a suggestion: put on some comfortable shoes, grab a good map, and take a walk...
top of building
There's color everywhere in the narrow streets.

One of my favorite fountains is the Fontana delle Tartarughe, the Fountain of the Tortoises. The fountain was built in the 16th century. The tortoises were added in the 17th... and what a clever and fun addition it was! Roma is full of fountains; you can find more about them at
tortoise fountain photo 1
tortoise fountain photo 2
sitting in a park
reading by a fountain
This turned out to be the only completely sunny day during my week in Rome, so I'm glad I took advantage of it! I wasn't the only one drinking in the sun: both of the guys in these photos took books and spent time reading outdoors: one in a park, the other by a fountain in a piazza (where a market was also being held). Speaking of drinking, thirsty walkers (and readers, and shoppers) will sometimes find a tap with a constant stream of Roma's clear, cold mountain spring water. My guidebook said that the water is perfectly safe (I thought it was delicious!) but that Romans prefer bottled water. (The fancy bottled water I saw cost about the same as good basic Italian wine. I wouldn't spend my money on water...)
Santa on his way to...
I'm almost to the Vatican. Christmas is coming, so I'm not surprised to see Santa Claus ahead, in the distance, about to cross that street. I guess he must be on his way to an orphanage, or a school, or doing some good for someone. Oh, I see: he's joined the ranks of the squeegee guys that I spotted on another street... doing some good for himself. (After this, he ducked into an underground shopping center. So much for charity.)
...oh, I see.
I feel blessed...
I'm finally in the huge square outside St. Peter's. The pope gives a public audience on Wednesdays at 11 am, but I missed it... and, as it turns out, you have to apply ahead of time. There are big electronic displays in the square, and metal detectors around the edges -- signs of the times, I guess. But it's easy to ignore those and to take in the rest of the magnificent scene outside the basilica...
far shot well as the tremendous views inside. But the sun streaming almost sideways through the windows told me that it was time to finish my walk -- and to head for the metro station a few minutes' walk away.

(By the way, digital photographers, you can take decent hand-held shots inside a dim building like St. Peter's, with a cheap point-and-shoot camera like mine, if you use your photo software's "sharpen" feature to smooth out the motion blur and the poor auto-focusing. It's pretty amazing.)

I did a lot more walking for the rest of the week, but I didn't take many more photos along the way until my last day: a walk in the rain through the Esposizione Universale di Roma, a satellite city ordered by Mussolini with a lot of Fascist architecture.

You can also return to the start of the Rome 2002 tour or see other photo tours.

(These photographs are Copyright © 2002 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)

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