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Thread: Rome on a Budget

  1. #1 tgtaylor's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Rome on a Budget

    I'm thinking about planning a trip to Rome to photograph its fountains with an 8x10 Toyo MII for alternative – kallitype/salt – printing. Due to the subject matter I envision bringing all of my 8x10 lens (9) which range from 120mm to 760mm in focal length and are stored in a Pelican 1550 case. The camera is currently stored in a Kalimar case but I would probably need to upgrade the case for international travel. I would necessarily need to bring my big Lowpro Trekker 600 AW which will carry the camera, tripod, a few lenses holders, etc., for short walking distances to the sites and the cases that I currently store 8x10 (10), 5x7 (10) and 4x5 holders. I'm thinking about bringing the 5x7 and 4x5 reducing backs for the possibilities those formats offer with respect to color and B&W film for enlarging. This concludes the gear portion.

    Next up is the B&W film processing considerations. Processing the negatives on the same day that they are taken not only insures image quality but also frees-up the holder for use on the following day and avoids the transport of undeveloped negatives. I can probably bring the Jobo 3005 drum but certainly not the processor. Could I roll the drum back and forth on the floor or find a local facility/lab to process? I can bring the powered ID-11 1-liter kits and powered ingredients for HCA along with 2-500mL bottles for the developer and 1 250mL bottle for HC agent and I assume can source the fix and PhotoFlo locally. I can bring the Harrison 8x10 tent for loading/unloading. Color would require either having the negatives processed locally or ringing back home to process.

    For local transportation I am thinking of either renting a car or motorcycle/scooter with a side car for transporting the camera. I briefly thought about bring my bike and a rear trailer but Rome is a big city and from past experience they don't allow bicycles on the subway – especially with a trailer.

    Finally there is the housing question. I will be looking for a relative safe place where I can operate out of and develop my films. That rules the campgrounds out. I'm looking to staying 30 days on this project in Rome before returning home. I know that this whole trip is going to cost me but I am trying to limit the cost as much as possible without sacrificing the plan.

    Any ideas anyone?

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Rome on a Budget

    buon viaggio

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2016

    Re: Rome on a Budget

    Knowing a bit Rome (thought I live in Milan), I give my 2 cents suggestions:
    - avoid renting a car, circulation in Rome is a nightmare, parking even worse, and expensive
    - rent a place to stay downtown, you will walk to your fountains and maybe use a taxi up and then (you save car renting and parking)
    - downtown staying is not necessarily expensive, try AirB&B.
    - onece you buy the airplane ticked, contact some local labs and shared labs (there are in Milan, I expect to find them also in Rome). I can help you with this search.

    Are you really sure to develop the films there, with risk and compromises (water for instance, which is differnt from the one you have at home)? Is one month delay in development impacting results? I mean itís one month, not 1 year.

    If you stay 1 month, consider visiting Villa Adriana ( see online).


  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2007
    New York City & Pontremoli, Italy

    Re: Rome on a Budget

    I can only reiterate and stress what Sandro has said above.
    Put driving a car in Rome out of your mind, the sooner the better. You will not be allowed to drive anywhere near the fountains as almost all are inside "ZTL" zones (Zona di Traffico Limitato). Unwittingly drive in one and you will rack up hefty fines, payable directly to your car rental company. Biking around Rome with an 8x10 tripod etc. sounds... suicidal.
    You should be able to find a place near your activity; the closer the better or you will need use taxis.

    I actually share your desire to develop the film before returning home (I develop what I photograph in Italy before coming back). Get in touch with the ARS-IAMAGO (store) in Rome; I have heard that they are very helpful.

    Budget?! Bring money - Rome is expensive.

    I hope your trip will be enjoyable and rewarding. I am certain that people will treat you well.

  5. #5
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Rome on a Budget

    I never got to Rome, but spent a month in Venice during the 2001 Venice Biennial in June which is the best time to be there

    As it was before euro conversion it was cheap, if you learned the system. Fit in, don't wear sneakers, Italians like nice shoes, buy them in Italy

    Being Venice, no cars or bikes of any kind. The bus was a boat, that can unload and load faster than any Bus. I walked my feet off, so I always used the Vaporetto (bus). Water taxi (Speed Boat) to and from airport

    Since I was there a month, I got to know locals and a few phrases that worked well in crowds. Caffe bar is a battle for any American, I love espresso so I learned the etiquette

    Venice is a lot slower than Rome, people have told me

    Using Vaporetto to move camera gear would be easy and very cheap

    I wanted to never leave, as it a civilized city without cars, trucks and millions of people, great food and very good table wine

    St Mark's Square did not flood, but it is now, see and photograph Venice before it is gone

    Almost no crime then in Venice, a few pickpockets. I saw worse in London or is that better...

    After Venice, Rome!

  6. #6
    Scott Davis
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Washington DC

    Re: Rome on a Budget

    When I stayed in Rome, I got a great little apartment over in Trastevere through VRBO. For you, I would NOT recommend the specific apartment I had, given that it was on the 5th floor of a 5 story walk-up with medieval-width staircases. But something in Trastevere that's within a couple blocks of the river and/or the street car that takes you to Piazza Venezia is a good option. Wherever you stay, I HIGHLY recommend finding somewhere on no more than the 1st floor, street level if possible. There are quite a lot of options through VRBO that are a bit nicer than what you'd get on AirBnB, and for similar to slightly more expensive prices.

    I understand the desire to have the full arsenal of lenses with you. However, when I went to Rome I only brought my Rolleiflex, Tele-Rolleiflex, and a Lomo Belair X6/12 panoramic camera. To be honest, if I had not brought the Tele, I don't think I would have missed any images that I did take with it. I'd trim the lens selection down to just two or three at most, and just stick to one format - hauling around all those backs, holders and different film stocks is just going to wear you out. You'll spend more time juggling logistics and processing film than you will shooting or doing anything else. And you'll be in Rome, so you'll definitely want time to eat! If you stay in Trastevere, I can give you several restaurant recommendations. In and around the fountains, not so much- around the Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia, the Pantheon, and a lot of the other attractions, most of the restaurants are super-touristy and serve mediocre food. Do poke your head in Babingtons tea room beside the Spanish Steps.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Minnesota and Massachusetts, USA

    Re: Rome on a Budget shows 2 public darkrooms in Rome.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Chichester, UK

    Re: Rome on a Budget

    I visited Rome with my wife and family two years ago and stayed a week in Castel Gandolfo which is a small resort town by a lake to the south west of Rome, famous for being the Pope's summer residence. The trains into Rome are pretty cheap and don't take very long (about 10-20 minutes as I recall) and this set up means you can work in the morning and lay on the beach in the afternoon! The lake itself is an extinct volcano called Lake Albano so make sure if you get somewhere to stay there it is close the lake and station, the hill up to Castel Gandolfo proper is very steep and I wouldn't fancy hauling 8x10" gear up it.

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