Orvieto’s streets were empty and filled with fog at 4:30am as I walked towards the Piazza Duomo, carrying a tripod and a monopod on my shoulder like a musket. I didn’t run into a single soul until I met our driver who had parked his van in front of the school. I always seem to be the first to arrive.
The ride to Rome was quick and painless at 5:00 in the morning. The roads were empty and we avoided rush hour. The driver dropped us off near the Capitoline and we all stopped in to a caffe for some coffee. The caffeine boost felt good after only getting a few hours of restless sleep the night before. My house-mates have taken to getting home at 1am and they seem to not know how to shut a door or toilet seat without slamming them like deaf musclemen. This is why I’ve never been good with roommates. I’m too neurotic.
Since we were an hour early for our appointment at the Capitoline Museums, we went down to shoot some scenes in the Forum. It wasn’t open yet so it was completely empty with no tourists around at all. It was absolutely fantastic shooting. You very rarely get the Forum empty. The early morning sun created a beautiful contrast on the granite and marble ruins.
7:30am rolled around and we went to get into the Capitoline Museums to shoot a few shots we needed before the museum opened at 8:30. We were assigned a guard and entered the museum. We were able to film some of the ancient Capitoline as well as the original Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome suckling from her teats. We were barely finished shooting this first room when we received word that we were to leave. I found out that this is pretty normal for Roman museum authorities. They kick you out with no warning or explanation. We didn’t do anything wrong; they just made the decision that it was time for us to go.
We proceeded back out to the Forum and Dr. Soren paid for passes to enter. The guards at the entrance hassled Dan and I about our tripods. We were able to convince them to allow us to enter if we collapsed them and agreed not to use them inside. The moment we were out of their sight, Dan opened up the monopod and used that exclusively in order to minimize our profile. In order to shoot with sound, I had to wire up Dr. Soren with a wireless lav mic behind a giant ruin, out of the watchful eye of the guards. I then pretended I was listening to a guided tour while monitoring the audio right under the nose of one of patrolling guards. It was complete guerrilla filmmaking and was fun as hell.
The Forum was astounding to walk around in even though I wasn’t able to focus on the monuments surrounding every corner. The problem with working in a city that was the heart of a classical civilization that you’ve been obsessed with for over a decade is that you can’t appreciate these great works of art and architecture with the attention they deserve.
We marched all around Rome while hauling all of our equipment by hand in the scorching sun. We filmed the Pantheon. We filmed the Forums of Trajan, Julius Caesar and Augustus. Dan and I sprinted into the Colosseum and filmed the stadium in a half-hour. I wish I could have had more time to explore around but it was packed with people and we were on a tight schedule. We stopped to eat lunch at Costanza’s and I had some delicious gnocchi. After lunch, we filmed the restaurant itself because it is built into the structure of the Theatre of Pompey.
Finally, we wrapped up after filming everything we needed except for a few things at the Capitoline. Overall, it was a great day.
Rome is a beautiful city but when summer hits, the Romans leave and the tourists take over. That is not an exaggeration either. Most Romans leave the city for summer homes and the tourist population doubles or triples. I think because of that fact, this will be my final trip to Rome during this visit. I would absolutely love to come back during the fall or winter when the tourist population is lower. Whenever I got slightly annoyed by a rude tourist or aggravated while stuck in gridlocked traffic, I just remembered back to an inspiring conversion I had with Dr. Soren when we arrived at the Forum twelve hours prior to leaving the city.
I asked if the magic of Rome has expired for him. He has been to the city at least once a year since 1966.
"After seeing these monuments over and over again, it must seem like a monotonous routine, right?" I asked him.
He turned and locked eyes with me.
"You know, I keep finding more and more," he said. "Things just keep getting deeper."
Arrivederci, Roma. I hope to see you again soon.
research / travel / musings
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