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Photographs of Rome (tourism interfaces)

Rome, 1 December 2002. Click on images to see enlarged version.

All photographs © 2002–2005, Detlev Fischer

Frankfurt/Main airport(1) Frankfurt/Main airport 1. Re-routing due to aircraft delay led to an unwelcome 2hrs break in Frankfurt. (I missed the entire first day of the PANOPE Technical Steering Committee meeting.) At late morning time, the departure entrance is very quiet. Most of Frankfurt's traffic is hub interchange, not origin. The few people present attract the more attention. Somehow, the architecture acts as an amplifier to those purposeful predictable movements.

Frankfurt/Main airport(2) Frankfurt/Main airport 2. When seeing the bourgeois portly unfolding themselves out of big cars, there is still this habitual distaste mingled with a dislike of this stereotypical response and an immeadiate homing in on my own current position in the social sphere (depending on dress, too; I was wearing a suit on that day). There was a strange light breaking through the glass facade from the inside - something I would not let be reason enough to photograph.

Umbrella vendor, Rome(3) Umbrella vendor. One of the umbrella vendors waited for me immediately outside the Hotel entrance. Rome is full of them. I actually needed an umbrella since it was raining strongly and I hadn't brought rain-proof shoes. The quality of the umbrella was so poor that I decided to get one myself in a shop. By that time I had wet feet. Embarassingly, the condescending phrase 'poor devils' has taken hold in my brain, giving me this irritating Ersatz feeling of colonial superiority. Are they 'sans papiers'? Where do they live? Nearby, of all places on the Piazza delle Finanze, a large group of refugees could be seen on the next bitter-cold day taking their hot lunch outside, balancing plastic containers on their knees. What is the infrastructure that gets their lunch to this place? Is there some mobile unit making the rounds? Did they cook it themselves, outdoors among chilling palm trees and scruffy pidgeons?

sixtvs-v(4) Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Rome. This building with a fountain in front of it is situated at the corner of Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando and Via XX Settembre (the street which occupied my mind more than all other streets, perhaps since it has many grand and sinister-looking ministries, administrations, police headquarters etc, complete with closed-circuit video surveillance, automatic registration of numberplates of cars passing, etc. This is a fashionable topic so no more of it. The building's facade looks a bit like a large billboard advert, just so much more permanent. My latin is too bad to work what the text is about. If anyone wants to help out, I'll post the translation here.

Via delle Quattro Fontane, Rome(5) Via delle Quattro Fontane. This is a busy and narrow junction, and there isn't much place to stand and watch the fountains embedded in all four corners. What you can see is how far you can look down the narrow valley of the Via delle Quattro Fontane which further down becomes the via Sistina leading up towards the Piazza Trinita dei Monti (see further down). I wanted to capture the lamps inside the fountains which would illuminate the sculptures at nighttime. So here is some effort has been made to bring this destination interface into relief but there is no one looking at it (especially not on a sombre December day while it is bucketing down) - they are all clustered around the Fontana di Trevi, Collosseum, Piazza di Spagna, etc.

Metro station entrance Piazza Barberini, Rome(6) Metro station entrance Piazza Barberini. Another fashionable topic—the encroachment of corporate symbols into public space, here through innocent-looking but in truth insideous bunting in the Via Vittorio Veneto. In the distance you can see the entrance to the 24*7 easyInternet Cafe where I posted while in Rome. For me this photograph belongs into the same series as the umbrella man, but motr efor formal than other reasons.

Metro station entrance Piazza Barberini, Rome(7) Hotel entrance and Thomas Cook agent at Piazza Barberini. The piazza Barberini is another place that is uttery void of tourists, although it has a nice vista into the plane-tree-lined Via Vittorio Veneto curving uphill (some dead leaves can be seen on the last photograph) and (pleasing or not) the Fontana Sistina. There is a cinema (but I didn't find one showing English-language movies). Will they store the Christmas decoration until next year or destroy it?

Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier, Piazza Barberini, Rome(8) Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier at Piazza Barberini. I have already talked about this chandelier and the cops protecting it on Dec 15. The chandelier is certainly not so much a tourist interface, but rather one for the local Jewish population. Are there historic reasons for it being here? Is this the (former) Jewish quarter of Rome?

Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier, Piazza Barberini, Rome(9) Souvenir shop near Fontana di Trevi. Money exchange and souvenir shop side by side. The better sister photograph to this has a motion blur. I wish there was infinite resolution, and one could zoom in to any postcard, read any text in the papers and journals at any later time. The resolution posted here is of course already much worse than that of the 50MB scan from the slide, but the photographic slide again holds much more detail than the scan.

Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier, Piazza Barberini, Rome(10) Fontana di Trevi 1. This must be one of the most photographed places on earth. Therefore, I concentrated on people watchingh an photographing, not the fountain itself. Two women get pretty for the inevitable photograph on which they will be seen throwing a coin backwards over their shoulder into the fountain since this is supposed to bode well for their future.

Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier, Piazza Barberini, Rome(11) Fontana di Trevi 2.

Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier, Piazza Barberini, Rome(12) Fontana di Trevi 3.

Carabinieri guard Hanukkah chandelier, Piazza Barberini, Rome(13) Fontana di Trevi 4.

Obelisk restoration at Piazza Mignanelli, Rome(14) Piazza Mignanelli. The obelisk being restored behind the scaffolding is reproduced in drawing on the white tarpaulin - a secondary analogous interface to a defunct destination interface.

Piazza di Spagna, Rome.(15) Piazza di Spagna. Nearly all photographs made here at the Piazza di Spagna were not very good. I don't like this one either. The rain has stopped, the sun has come out. The wet street axis below Via Condottireflects the sun. Still the photograph is pointless (or not pointless enough to be interesting).

Piazza Trinita dei Monti overlooking the Piazza di Spagna, Rome.(16) Piazza Trinita dei Monti 1. An abandoned scaffolding with TV camera (?) overlooking the stairs and the Piazza di Spagna. TV interface to destination interface.

Piazza Trinita dei Monti, Rome(17) Piazza Trinita dei Monti 2. Two Japanese tourists looking up to another obelisk, a young and smart vendor of drawings and paintings in the background.

Information display at Chiesa della SS. Trinità dei Monti, Rome(18) Information display at Chiesa della SS. Trinità dei Monti. The slide has enough resolution to read the text, but I am too lazy to reproduce the content. Behind the sign is another Metro entrance (SPAGNA)

The Pincio, Rome(19) Tourist on Piazza Napoleone. Walking up the Viale Trinita dei Monti towards the Pincio means leaving the bulk of tourists behind. There are just a few savouring the look down onto Rome in the evening light. This was the only portrait - I had asked this man, who was, as far as I could tell from the accent, an Italian tourist, whether he would mind if I took this picture. 'What for?' - 'A research project on tourism.' He didn't seem convinced but had no arguments left to resist. I tried to calm him: 'Just pretend I'm not there.'

[1] genug entry of 15 Dec 2002: "I just came across a fenced-off nine-armed chandelier with a sign reading 'Happy Hanucca' at Piazza Barberini, protected by two carabinieri sitting in a small car. They pulled back when I got out the camera to get them in front of the chandelier, the back side of the fontana di Sistina behind it. They waved with their hands, I waved back in pretended misunderstanding and quickly made the photo I wanted."

"Then they beckoned me to come to the car and explained they did not want to be photographed. I agreed, and interviewed them about their reason to be here. 'Do you protect the chandelier?' - 'Si.' - 'Has it been attacked before?' - 'Si, si.' - 'Is it because of the current events in Palestine?' - 'Si.' (They may have said a few other things, but their active English was as bad as my active Italian, so I only remember the si's.)"

Last update: 14 February 2005 | Impressum—Imprint