A lot of things are made much simpler with slow travel (dining, packing, etc), but one of the challenges is doing your research and picking the best place to stay. It’s a balancing act between finding a peaceful, affordable apartment, and one that will give you easy access to the top attractions. This conundrum is intensified when you need to get out there to keep up with your photography, and care for toddler who just wants to enjoy herself!
For our month in Rome, we threw the concept of “balance” to the wind and rented an Airbnb (Apartment Diocleziano at Colosseum), which is right next to the colosseum. It wasn’t cheap but the amenities, which included daily cleaning service, were amazing.
As a family team, we don’t want to engage in or promote unsafe photography activities with kids. Instagram abounds with photos of people standing on walls or balancing over high places. But what to do with a little one and a site full of walls and fences, we had to find the places that would give us the height without endangering the little one or scare the parents.
1: From the Stairs
We actually took our first Colosseum photo on the evening we arrived. After dropping off our bags we went for a walk and were somewhat taken aback by the number of people. We’d later get used to this, but it was kind of a shock after winter in the Balkans. Everywhere we looked there were crowds of families, tours and twenty-something year old backpackers taking selfies. We knew we’d have to look around to find a place that was isolated and original.
A short walk from the crowds, there were a couple of stairways (Google Maps) that snaked up the hill to allow pedestrians access from Via Nicola Salvi. While mom and baby safely strolled up and down the stairs, I took a Shot through the fence on the top of the hill. It was a nice composition with lush greenery in the foreground and the colosseum in the background. Honestly, If you can’t get up early enough to beat the crowds, this is a good angle to keep in mind.
2: From the bridge over Via deli Annibaldi
Dannie does a lot of research before we get to a city, to compile a list of engaging angles and scenes to track down (finding this beautiful staircase in Split, Croatia was an ordeal). But we always try to put our own spin on it. In Rome, she found a great photo of a bridge with the colosseum in the background.
Dannie showed me a picture, then I went out to look for it one afternoon while Lisa was napping. When I found it, it was crowded with tourists, so we planned for a photoshoot early in the morning. To get to this location continue up Via Nicola Salvi from the stairs, and you will see the road go down a slope while two sidewalks that rise up on either side of it. There is a foot bridge (Google Maps) connecting the two sidewalks that is great for photography.
Most people capture a photo while standing on the bridge, but we thought it would be fun for Dannie and Lisa to walk across while I went all the way down to the road to get a shot of looking up at them with the colosseum rising up into the sky. Photographers, watch out for traffic!
3: Behind the Colosseum
The morning we did our shoot on the bridge, we walked back to our apartment the long way, wrapping around the opposite side of the Colosseum. We’d gotten up so early that there was still basically no one about. The thought of breakfast was gnawing at us, but Dannie and Lisa were all dressed up, and when we saw the light hitting the arena wall we couldn’t resist.
On the backside of the colosseum there is a hill next to Via Celio Vienna (on the colosseum side of the road). The hill is chained off (Google Maps), but during the day time you’ll see it covered with tourists, so we didn’t think twice about crossing the low linked chain. The walls of the colosseum are not as high on this side, but you can’t tell in the photo, and it’s a great way to get a less common angle. The light there is amazing in the morning, but if you are there during the day it should still be possible to get a shot without many tourists if you are patient and wait for your turn.
For a list of the family travel and photography gear we use, check out our resources page.
4: Parco Del Colle Opio
One of the biggest challenges of traveling with a toddler is finding a place for her to run around and just be a kid. In hotels and Airbnbs, there are always so many things she’s not allowed to touch. On the streets of an unfamiliar city, we can’t even put Lisa on the ground for fear that she will run into traffic. We don’t want her to miss out on the joys of childhood, so we always look for parks and playgrounds where she can go wild. Parco Del Colle Opio (Google Maps) was right near our apartment, and since we went there every day, it wasn’t long before we started to notice photographic opportunities.
We noticed that the park is high enough to get us the lift we needed, but most of this park has no view, so we wandered around, and found a small fountain area by the entrance, covered by tress and shockingly hardly anyone hanging around. From here you can see the most intense sunset over the colosseum. Also, if you have kids the park is a pretty good place to take a break from all the pushing and pull of the crowd. There are rose gardens, several big fountains, and the playground is at the top of the hill.
Coming Soon: Our panoramic shot of the Colosseum interior! (Update: Our Colosseum interior photo is now live!)
These were some of our favorite angles, but of course there are many others. Do you have safety conserns while taking family photos with little ones? How do you deal with it?