Being from the U.S., Barcelona's a very old city in my books. It's something like 2,000 years old but it was founded originally as a Roman settlement/city. Those Romans were pretty much everywhere; I even saw Roman ruins in Cairo and Israel when I was there. To actually get to visit Rome is an amazing opportunity to experience what is a huge part of our modern-day society. So many things we have today are based on what a bunch of folks did over 2,000 years ago in central Italy.
Like you already know, the city of Rome is very old. It was founded over 2,500 years ago and you can see lasting evidence of how old it is everywhere. These ruins, which are what's left of a series of temples and other structures, are called the Largo di Torre Argentina and they're almost 2,400 years old:
By the way, Rome turned out to be an especially good city to photograph at night. I really like how the Castel Sant'Angelo and Bridge look when reflected in the Tiber river, which runs through the middle of the city. The building was originally built as tomb but has been re-purposed many times over the years into things like a military fort, a papal residence and prison, a castle, and currently as a museum.
The Pantheon, which is not the Parthenon of Greece (doh!), is the best preserved Roman buildings, which is especially impressive when you consider that it's been in constant use for its entire 2,000 years. It was originally built as a temple but currently serves as a Catholic church. I was super impressed when I first saw the outside and even more so when I got inside. The main building is a circle with a domed roof. Apparently, a 142 foot diameter ball could fit perfectly inside of it. Another feature that's interesting is that there's a circular opening in the roof that lets daylight (and rain) in to the worship space. Can you say f'n cool?!?
Of course one of the big draws of Rome is a visit to Vatican where the Catholic church is based and the Pope parks his Popemobile. The Vatican's also a nice spot to shoot at night. While taking this photo of the moon over the obelisk and dome, I wondered that if you work at the Vatican, for example like this guy picking up trash, do you get to meet and hang out with the boss at the company Christmas party like you do at other companies?
Before I got to Rome, I pretty much expected the worst. I had heard all sorts of horror stories of how dirty the city is, how poorly maintained the tourist sites are, and how bad the drivers are. Well, I can tell you that none of this was true. I think that Rome's figured out fairly recently that they need to step up their tourist game a bit. I even heard from a staff member at the B&B that people "are getting it" now and that they need to be competitive to get tourist visits. Yes, the city was clean, surprisingly so, especially compared to what I expected. Most of the tourist sites were equally clean and seemed well maintained. Even the drivers seemed great. There wasn't a ton of honking horns like in New York or Colombia and they stop for you when you step into the cross walks.
An interesting thing that I saw tons of in Rome and have occasionally seen in France and Barcelona is when Smart Car owners park their cars perpendicularly to the curb. It's a cool advantage to these small cars and I'm sure makes them even more popular.
Have you ever noticed that when you own a white car, every car you see is white. When I write about something I end up seeing even more later. For example, I saw some Locks of Love attached to the Pont Sant'Angelo (with the Tiber in the background) like those I saw in Paris recently...
...as well as some Space Invaders art too:
One thing that I really have never talked about on my blog is that I've been photographing street art for over 20 years. I've always been interested in it, have photographed it, but haven't done anything with it...yet. There wasn't as much street art in Rome as I saw in Paris but I did see some neat stuff like these Do Not Enter signs that have been modified with stickers. They are done by an artist from Florence Italy named Clet Abraham. He cuts out vinyl shapes and sticks them on all sorts of traffic and other street signs. The first one I saw looks like a guy carrying a board or something...
...and the other looks like the view into the front window of a car:
Rome is a very interesting city. The amount of history that's around you everywhere as well as the awesome food made me really enjoy it. I'm still amazed at how much influence this small area has had on the development of the modern world so long ago.