Churches, Temples, Fountains and Piazze: The Historic Centre of Rome, a set on Flickr.
In two previous sets of photos (here and here), I have covered the first two days of my two-week family holiday in Italy — with a series of photos from Rome, where we have been during this first week, before moving on to Abruzzo province for the second.
Rome is so photogenic, and the compunction to wander around it so compelling, despite the average daytime heat of around 35 degrees, that it has been impossible to publish the photos as I take them, as a sort of visual diary, but if you bear with me I’ll eventually get all the photos published. At present, I doubt that Abruzzo province is as well-connected to the Internet as Rome, which may make a big difference to my ability to get my photos online.
On our third day in Rome, after a largely fruitless diversion in search of the Metro, we finally ended up in the Centro Storico, the historic centre of the eternal city (la città eterna), arriving at the Piazza del Popolo, the old northern entrance to the city, and visiting the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, before returning home via Piazza Navona, the largest and most popular piazza in the Centro Storico.
As ever, the scale of the architecture remains overwhelming — the churches that, every few streets, almost block out the light, so high are their facades, and their opulent interiors, in which every surface glitters or demonstrates Rome’s wealth in centuries past — and the Catholic church’s ongoing wealth. As ever, the Roman people themselves were thoroughly welcoming and, as the Italians say, simpatici, wearing their city’s grand history lightly, with young people, in particular, as likely to enthuse as wildly about London and Scotland as they did when I used to visit northern Italy more than 20 years ago.
On this third day, while I admired how much ordinary Roman life remains centred on family and on tradition (in cuisine, for example, using local seasonal ingredients), as opposed to the magpie neurosis of modern Britain, where tradition and culture are largely treated as disposable, leading to an atomised society, I was also aware that the economic disasters engulfing Greece and Spain are also lapping at Italy’s shores, although there was little evidence of it in the streets of Rome. Instead, the city continued its tourist trade in a mostly relaxed manner, with the main interruption to this peaceful business coming from the policemen and policewomen placed strategically at the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain to blow whistles every time the tourists, oblivious to the rules, which were not posted anywhere, sat down in the wrong place or dared, as I did at the foot of The Spanish Steps, to put their hands in the water of the fountains, in an attempt to cool down.
Next up: Photos inside The Pantheon and from the roof of Il Vittoriano, the giant marble monster erected to mark Italian unification — and the ambitious self-regard of the new nation — which was completed in 1911, and which we visited prior to touring the great remains of Ancient Rome — the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Sounds like you’re having a great time. Thanks for sharing it!
Thanks for being there, Jeff. Having a lovely time. Now in Abruzzo province, in a little village – a really little village! – in the mountains (near the Apennines), staying in an apartment rented out by a British couple, who moved here eight years ago. The main town is Sulmona, and the whole area is very relaxing, and also a place where tradition is very much alive, providing a solid basis for a close-knit community life that seems a world away from our own countries, where the people have been sold out to banks and corporations. London will probably be a bit of a shock in six days’ time!
Kevi Brannelly wrote:
So glad you all are having fun and a well deserved rest. Thank you for sharing photos of my favorite city – takes me back enjoy the rest of the holiday
Thanks, Kevi. Great to hear from you, and yes, it’s good to have a break. I’m sure I’ll need to be recharged for the ongoing struggle against injustice in the US and the UK this autumn and winter.
Kevi Brannelly wrote:
Sadly. That is a safe bet : (
Yes, unfortunately, Kevi. It’s been very healing not thinking much about it for a few weeks though! And very nice to know that Rome is your favourite city …
On Facebook, I also posted the photo of passers-by sitting in Piazza Navona, in front of paintings for sale: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/7813632210/in/photostream/
and I wrote:
One of my favourite photos from Rome – an old lady and some tired-looking tourists, sitting in Piazza Navona, the main piazza in Rome’s Centro Storico (the historic centre) in front of a selection of paintings for sale to tourists. It was sooo hot in Rome. I’m now in Abruzzo, in the mountains, and it’s still hot, but not crazy hot as it was in Rome!
Neil Mckenna wrote:
Precisely why the Romans that can afford to get the hell out in high summer!
Lucia Grillo wrote:
Next time head south to Calabria, Andy. It is hot but the water of the sea is incomparable (until the ‘ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, destroys it with illegal waste
Yes, it’s extraordinary how empty Rome was, Neil, with few people around beyond those serving the tourists, which I have taken to mean that the Italian way of life is triumphing over the demands of the EU technocrats and bankers who want savage austerity programs. Romans may no longer take the whole month off, but they go away for the middle two weeks of August , and if not abroad, then to other places in Italy, and especially the coast. And here in Abruzzo – in Sulmona today, for example – there seems to be no enthusiasm whatsoever for any innovations that might damage a way of life that has developed over decades, based on the demands of politicians who, traditionally, are regarded as corrupt. Is this sustainable? I don’t know, but trying to maintain the status quo is obviously preferable to what has happened in Greece. I hope to understand more in the coming days …
And Lucia, yes, I’d like to visit Calabria again. I went in the late ’80s, when no one went there apart from Italians – and foreigners invited by Italians. I hear it’s opened up somewhat, although the hand of the mafia is still strong.
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Will share soon, Andy. Very nice. BTW, one set of your photos got “liked” by a well-known literary and documentary photographer.
Thanks, George. That’s very good to hear.
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
Email Andy Worthington
Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist: