TOMBINO – Roman manholes
They are heavy, some are very old, and they age beautifully but dangerously because they wear as smooth as highly polished marble. Which makles them slippery and treacherous in the rain. But we haven’t had rain in Rome for months. So, to add to the shiny manholes in all shapes and sizes, we also have very grubby, sticky streets. All the better to make those unaligned cobblestones shine.
Piazza Barberini. Those stripes are supposed to be white, but a thick layer of gunk has turned them greenish.
This one was in the shade of a narrow alley, reflecting a brightly lit red building.
A small octagonal one among the ‘sanpietrini’, Rome’s typical cobblestones.
Fancy Italian shoes on a worn manhole.
The cobblestones are not supposed to have gaps between them, but years of neglect have turned some into high-heel-swallowing monsters.
S.P.Q.R. stands for ‘the senate and the people of rome’ and, together with the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, is one of the city’s emblems.
These people were waiting for the light to change to cross the road. Then they noticed me and spent so long looking at their own feet wondering what i had photographed, that they missed the green light…
Some random fruit, a large crow feather, and a bit of do-it-yourself: someone has filled the worse cracks with sand.
In case anyone was wondering, yes: there were many cars around. I got my fair share of honking for just standing in the middle of the streets looking down through my camera.
This smallish round one in front of the Pantheon is not really a manhole: the grid protects one of several powerful lamps that illuminate the huge facade by night.
Taken in Piazza Montecitorio, before seat of Italy’s parliament. The stars are part of Italy’s national emblem.
Both these manholes are operated by Telecom Italia, one of Italy’s telephone providers. The near one bears the company’s current name, the far one is older and bears the company’s former name: Sip.
This one was trying hard to fit into the surroundings. Have you ever seen a cobbled manhole cover before?
This one leads rainwater straight into rome’s cloaca maxima – the world’s oldest sewer system – and into the river. The first time it rains after a long drought, so many toxins are washed into the river all at once that the bountiful wildlife suffers terrible shocks.
Ok, i’ll stop grumbling. Rome may be chaotic, slightly frayed at the edges and certainly not as clean as it could be. But the light, my friends, is simply amazing…
…as are the shadows.
No, i have not gone mad and spent day after day looking for these subjects. In rome they are so plentiful, that this entire set amounts to exactly twenty-eight minutes of photography. I was, after all, heading to my little spot for the afternoon beer. There was no time to waste.
One question does linger, however: where do all those manholes lead to? To ancient Rome, perhaps…