Top Tips for a Photography Trip in Rome

After two trips to Rome I feel I would like to help you get a few tips that I picked up on my visits. Although I will pick out a few places to shoot by no means just stay at these. Rome is a beautiful city with so much to see.

Castel St.Angelo at sunset.  20mm f/9 ISO100 217secs

Castel St.Angelo at sunset. 20mm f/9 ISO100 217secs

How to get there

Rome is a well connected city but I am always after a deal. Easyjet flies from the UK regularly and tickets cost from £40rtn. If it is a last minute trip looking on British Airways City Break section

How to get around.

From Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport I found the cheapest and easiest way to get to the city was to use the bus. The SET bus was just €11 return and the ticket was valid for a year. When you leave the arrivals area follow the directions for the buses. When you get there you will find a rep/ticket seller in a hi-vis jacket for Set bus at the stop that it will leave from.

Once in the city there are multiple buses and a good metro system. You can buy a pass for Rome’s transport at €7 for 24hrs travel. Be careful in the Metro system as teams of pick pockets work the stations. Not only is it horrible to lose your personal items but the inconvenience it causes during your trip can never be replaced. It is so common that you often see queues of people at the Police Stations waiting to report and get a crime number for their insurance. It took me and my partner over 2hrs to report the theft of her purse and thus wasted our day, as we were originally planning on going to the beach.

I chose to get around the city on foot. If you don’t mind walking you will see so much more as you go about the place. I always try and walk down different streets when returning to an area, you never know what you may find. I would advise a good pair of walking boots as the cobbled streets do take their toll on the soles of your feet and ankles.

The Coloseum  17mm f/10 ISO100 .4sec

The Coloseum 17mm f/10 ISO100 .4sec

General Prices for Rome

Drinks

Coffee €2-4

Beer .4cl €6

Water 1l €3

Fizzy drinks / Sodas 33cl €4

Breakfast

Coffee & Pastry €4-5

Lunch / Dinner

Starters €4-13

Pizza / Calzone €9-11

Pasta €9-14

These prices are an average of what I experienced. You will easily find restaurants who will happily charge you much more.

Eating Out Rome

It really does not matter where you eat in Rome as prices are always about the same. If you wish to sit at the steps of the Pantheon it will cost about €5 more per dish, but you don’t need to go to the dirtiest alley possible to find a cheap meal. It simply doesn’t exist in Rome. However the food is good and is clearly marked on menus if it is out of the freezer.

Always check your check! I happily left tips in all places I visited except those that had already billed me. When you receive the bill see if they have charged you a Service Charge. It is not compulsory to pay it no matter what they may say. The law is on your side. Some places are very transparent and state that they will add a service charge, so before you even order you can decide if you are comfortable with it.

Cheapest place to eat? Well I’ll have to go with the dreaded McDonalds. At around €8 for a meal it’s a cheap fix. There are a few more student orientated restaurants around Rome which were cheaper than the average place. However I found the meals to be pretty poor in standards and would still cost you €30-40 for a pair.

Bramante Staircase, Vatican  17mm f6.3 ISO1600 1/20

Bramante Staircase, Vatican 17mm f6.3 ISO1600 1/20

Photo Locations & Tips

Colosseum The Colosseum as you will no doubt know is one of the top tourist destinations in Rome. It is so hard to take a clean image with scores of people taking selfies right infant of your camera. I even tried a 15 minute long exposure to get a cleaner shot. Unfortunately this did not work as it seems the norm now for people to take 10-15mins to take a simple selfie on their phones, so they burn themselves into your shot. My best advice to to go at sunrise. The sun rises behind the monument and there was a whopping 2 of us crazy enough to shoot in the early hours. It made for a very rewarding process. Not only can you get the shot you want but you can enjoy the peace and take in it’s beauty.

Castel Sant’Angelo Once again this is a very busy area. I felt it was best to shoot this in the blue hour as the sky glows and the lights begin to illuminate the castle. The best place for me to shoot was on Ponte Sant’Angelo. It is a very busy bridge with tour groups and sellers, but if you use a tripod and filters you can extend the exposure. I took various exposures as the light dimmed and the crowds melted away in the shot.

Bramante Stairs Being within the Vatican Museum there are select timing constraints with shooting this location. I would suggest arriving at opening of the museum. Once you scan yourself in go to the top floor and turn right as if you wished to exit. As the stairs are used to exit the museum you should get a clean image without the crowds. I took my image late in the day and waited 40 minutes for the perfect shot. All the people walking down the stairs are just out of view. One thing I have learnt in photography is patience is sometimes the most important thing.

Vatican View The classic image of the Vatican and River Tiberis taken from the Ponte Umberto I bridge. This location is perfect as it does not matter what time of day you shoot. You have clear views from the bridge and is never crowded.

The Forum I often dreamt of getting the classic image of The Forum. After 2 visits I had to admit defeat. The classic view is actually from a private balcony within a government building/museum. You can make other compositions work but as it stands (Winter 2018-2019) the site is under repair and scaffolding is blocking the classic compositions. I would also advise only shooting the Forum at sunrise or sunset as the area is lit. The grey and white ruins just look a bit too flat during normal daylight hours.

Rome roof tops My final classic shot is of the roof tops of Rome looking towards the Vatican. The Terrazza del Pincio in the Villa Borghese gardens is a great sunset location. With the foreground of Piazza del Popolo, mid-ground of the Vatican and background of a lovely sunset it can frame up a beautiful image. However it is hard to get the leading lines straight and the trees are now encroaching too much in the image. If you decide to try your luck when walking along the wall at the terrace you’ll find one stone with a metal marker on it. Many photographers missed it. The marker gives you the perfect line of sight of the Obelisk in Piazza del Popolo and the main road leading toward the view of the Vatican.

Terrazza del Pincio, Rome  20mm f16 ISO100 15s

Terrazza del Pincio, Rome 20mm f16 ISO100 15s