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After visiting Verona in 2012, I had the chance to visit Italy for the second time, this time to the capital city, Rome. We were only there for a short weekend but we definitely made the most of the time we had and pretty much managed to do a tour of the entire city.

After arriving late the Friday night, we headed off into the city on late Saturday morning. In the end we walked for about six hours visiting all of the main sites which, although a little tiring at the end of the day, was a really great way to see the city. And thanks to our friends who live locally, we were able to navigate from one place to the next without ever getting lost (thanks Sere & Guido!).

Galleria Alberto Sordi
On our way to visit the Fontana Di Trevi, we passed through the Galleria Alberto Sordi, a shopping arcade situated on Via del Corso. Named after the actor Alberto Sordi, it was constructed in 1914 on the site of Palazzo Piombino and is built in the Art Nouveau style. The interior has high, glass-paneled ceilings, marble floors and hard wood walls which made for some impressive reverberation.

I recorded this ambiance in the middle of the galleria, with two cafes at either side of where I was stood. The clinking of cups and saucers really accentuates the reverberation.

The Pantheon
Next up we visited the world famous Pantheon, a sacred building built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. It was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD and today is one of the best-preserved Roman buildings in the city. The building is circular with a central opening (called an oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

The shape of the building creates a natural reverb that is really spectacular. Being a holy site, there were the occasional announcement reminding visitors to remain quiet. I captured this recording whilst standing pretty much in the centre.

Campo De Fiori
After the Pantheon we headed toward the banks of the Tevere River. En route we passed through a small square called Campo De Fiori (translated: Field of Flowers). Each Saturday there is a market in the square that attracts both a mix of locals (mostly buying fruit and veg) and tourists, creating an interesting soundscape.

The Vatican
After following the banks of the River Tevere heading north we arrived at Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, the bridge that leads towards the Vatican City. Although I had been to Rome before, I had never actually visited the Vatican and was quite keen to do so. No one objected so we continued our tour and headed straight to Piazza Saint Pietro (St. Peter’s Square).

The queue to enter Basilica Papale di San Pietro (Saint Peter’s Basilica as it’s known in English) was fairly short so we headed straight inside and we were not disappointed! The church, built in the Late Renaissance style, is visually stunning. It is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites and is also one of the world’s largest churches. This recording was taken from inside the church and captures the very pronounced reverberation of peoples’ voices.

As we headed out of the church I realised it was just before 6 o’clock so I hung back and waited to record the church bells. As followers of the World Sounds series will know (and my girlfriend who patiently waits for me each time), I always try to record church bells whenever I visit a new place. Historically they hold such an important place in the soundscape and can give clear definition to a location.

Unfortunately, as I recorded the bells of Saint Peter’s Basilica there was a light aircraft that flew overhead at the same time. One of those bad timing moments us recordists have to deal with! Plus, I hadn’t had time to really scope out the location so my position wasn’t ideal.

Saturday Night
After such an extensive walking tour we had worked up a huge appetite so headed out for dinner. On our way to the restaurant I took the opportunity to record the streets of Rome on a Saturday night. This recording was taken along a narrow street with quite high buildings on either side that made for an interesting acoustic environment.

A bit further on we came across a group of kids that were coming out of a birthday party. I found the soundscape to be quite interesting so I made a quick recording.

Porta Portese Flea Market
On Sunday we headed to Porta Portese, Rome’s largest flea market that is held every Sunday in the Trastevere area. Our friends’ apartment was very close to the market so we went and had a quick stroll before lunch.

You can literally find everything at this market and there was a really lively atmosphere that I couldn’t help recording.

Photo credit : VGM8383