Roman Forum

Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum, Rome – photograph taken on two consecutive days

Destination – One of the most visited and famous tourist sites in the world. Seeped in hundreds of years of Roman history, unique and intriguing.

What’s in a Name? – Excitement was coursing through our veins about the prospect of returning to Rome in January 2020 and photographing the Roman Forum, among other locations we had previously scouted out. Rome is famed for having the smallest country in the world, the Vatican City, measuring just 0.2 square miles, together with its stunning architecture and it was once the centre of the Roman Empire. Between about 200 hundred years BC and 1400 AD Rome conquered most of Western Europe, Greece and the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa. The Roman Forum dates back to around 9th/10th Century BC and Archaeologists are still making finds to date it more accurately.  

The Engagement, Romance and Wish – Mark had proposed to Nicola at the Trevi Fountain, Rome, in June 2018, where he had employed the services of a guitar player, through his friend Giulio Tampalini, internationally hailed as one of the most popular and charismatic Classical Guitarists, who has performed in the Vatican in honour of the Pope and who tours internationally. Giulio, quite amazingly, and thankfully, even performs in the wonderful, historic, walled City of York, England, a city founded by the Ancient Romans, due his contact with his great friend Mark Gaultier, Concert Guitarist, Teacher and Composer living in York. This unknown by us, until then, young and enthusiastic Roman guitarist, with the help of his two friends, appeared and serenaded Nicola beautifully and expressively at the Trevi Fountain. We had then done what tourists do when in Rome, according to legend, and tossed three coins each into the Trevi Fountain, meaning that we would return to The Eternal City, fall in love and marry. Our wish had come true.

Planning – We knew we had to get to the Roman Forum extremely early in the morning on Day 1 to capture our much desired shot, as there is usually fierce competition amongst other photographers, and this was indeed the case for us this time, on two consecutive days.

Base Camp – Our accommodation for this photography trip was a perfectly laid out Roman Airbnb, which meant we could leave and return as we pleased. The Airbnb had a major add-on of it being located in idyllic surroundings, only two minutes walk from the Roman Forum, once the very heart and soul of city life.

Day 1

We had both felt compelled to start our photography trip at the Roman Forum as this was one of the most alluring places we have visited. If you are fortunate enough to stand there alone, gazing over the entire site, like we were for a period of time, then you start imagining life in those early days: the noise, the smells and thinking about all of the activities that took place there, public speeches, business dealings, elections, criminal trials, social gatherings, religious ceremonies, public meetings and Gladiator matches prior to the Roman Colosseum being built. It is truly a beguiling place. Conjuring up images of life in Ancient Rome on a daily basis you can imagine all classes of people in the Roman Forum: Roman men and boys dressed in short-sleeved or sleeveless, knee length tunics with women and girls walking about, on rough ground and cobbled streets, undertaking their tasks, wearing most likely a sleeved and longer length tunic than the men.

People would be wearing shoes to enclose their feet because they usually wore sandals indoors.  Slaves, herdsmen and plebeians (common people) would have been seen wearing tunics of a dark brown colour and made from a course material, the military would be wearing the shortest tunics.  Togas would have been worn by men only in an established order of colours denoting who they were. Upper class Romans took a great deal of pride in their appearance and the woman liked spending time on arranging their hair and adorning themselves with necklaces, bracelets, earrings and expensive jewellery such as  diamonds, emeralds, opals, topaz and pearls. At one time in Rome the Upper Class men wore wigs to hide their baldness and as a disguise and their jewellery, was a single ring, if they had wanted to be known for being well mannered.  The Upper Class usually lived on the hills outside the Roman Forum, away from the noise and smell, enjoying their extravagant lifestyles.

Competition – We have discovered with our photography that the more talked about places mainly attract the most interest from other photographers. Competition can be fierce. To get there early is an absolute must. Pick your spot and stand firm, in this case like Roman Gladiators. 

Reality  and Construction – As the black of night started to fade and was transitioning into dawn, the first light of day began to appear and just before the sun rise the site unfolding before our eyes was truly spectacular. We love this shot, but we wanted a photograph with a stunning sunrise and the weather forecast looked favourable the following morning.

Day 2

Discussion – A discussion ensued between us and we made a plan to return again early in the morning on Day 2. Our hope was for a spectacular sunrise. Again, we rose extremely early, having been woken from sleep by not one, but three of the alarms we had set – you cannot travel that far and not get up for your landscape photography. Once again, we set off on our short walk, uphill, carrying all our heavy camera equipment and tripods, in the blackness of the early hours, to our destination, with no other living sole around. There was total silence, which seemed so strange in a city that is cacophonous at all other times. The positioning was already agreed from our findings the previous day. It was cold and we waited for what seemed like an eternity, in great anticipation, hoping that we would be rewarded for our patience and perseverance.  

Moment – Fora were common in all Roman cities, but none were as grand as the Fora of Rome itself and the one which stood before us. The area is rectangular in shape and it is low lying, situated between Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. Impressive temples and monuments were many and statues were created here of those considered great in Ancient Roman times. Some temples were constructed to honour men and some to honour Gods.

What remains of the Forum now are ruins of many important ancient government buildings. A place that had been so important and fantastic had been mostly destroyed, largely as a result of the falling Roman Empire. However, in our times, this site is still truly triumphant, which this photograph clearly shows. Our wait was not in vain. The sunrise, was gloriously strong, with the right conditions of only a slight breeze, which allowed a clear view across the whole of the Roman Forum, so that the Colosseum could be seen in the background. The sun bathed the Roman Forum in a bold colourful sky of yellows and oranges, radiating light, illuminating the ancient Roman columns and ruins and producing this stunning and truly eye-catching shot.

Blog written by Nicola and Mark Pollitt 18 November 2020

Leave a Reply