Street signs, placards, new signs, old signs – I photograph them all when I travel. Sometimes they represent interesting cultural differences, sometimes they’re just useful, and sometimes the photo is just a placeholder to give context to the rest of my photos. Here are ten of my favorite sign photos from a recent Rome trip.
1) This sign is at baggage claim at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and describes all the ways to get into the city, in both English and Italian. Very Useful.
2) I always remind clients to remember to stamp train tickets before boarding the train; purchasing the ticket is not enough. Amid the chaos of an Italian train station, it’s easy to not see these metal yellow boxes, but this one makes it easy for the traveler with this threatening helpful English sign.
3) The photo below was taken in St. Peter’s Square. There are two Centro del Colonnato circles in the square, one on each side, and if you stand on either one and face Bernini’s columns (with St. Peter’s to your right or left depending which circle you’ve picked to stand on), Bernini’s two rows of pillars perfectly line up, creating the illusion of just one row of pillars. It’s called Bernini’s Illusion and most people just walk right over it.
4) I took this photo at the historic Caffe Sant’Eustachio. The sign says that coffee with no sugar must be requested at the time of order. Usually you order a coffee and then add your own sugar. Does anyone know why Sant’Eustachio insists on doing things differently?
5) Someone recently told me that she had been to Rome and found that the taxis there had “a bit of an attitude” when she tried to flag them, which made me smile. In fact flagging taxis doesn’t work in Italy (they might wave back, though). You need to find a taxi stand and – by law – take the first taxi in line. So, take note of the photo below: the orange and black taxi sign looks the same across Italy (though most are not written in English).
6) I love looking for S.P.Q.R letters around Rome, and it’s a great way to occupy kids while they’re walking from A to B across the city, too. Here they are on a sewer.
7) The Italian aperitivo hour is fabulous, and yes, it’s a great place to get a free buffet — but not when the sign is in English advertising one. I took this photo as an example of a place to avoid.
8) Many stores across Italy operate according to these hours. Open in the morning, then closed for the midday pausa (it’s not a siesta) and then open in the afternoon; closed Sundays and often Mondays.
9) You can’t take photos inside the Sistine Chapel, but you can take a photo of the Sistine chapel sign.
10) I took this picture in Piazza Navona. They may as well put up a neon sign saying Avoid This Restaurant. It also had a menu in several languages, a poster with photos of the dishes on an easel out front, AND two guys trying to get people to come in. I think they covered the entire list of red flags for Places Never to Eat.
Do you have any interesting signs you’ve photographed in Rome or Italy? Post them on our Facebook fan page if you’d like to share!
All photos by Madeline Jhawar and may not be used without permission
"We had a wonderful trip! We did so many amazing things and experienced many wonderful places yet never felt like..."
"We thank you so much for all you gave us, guided us to, arranged for, and detailed for us. Not..."
"We are in love with Venice and the Dolomites. The ski adventure was amazing and beyond anything we could have..."
"Absolutely everything that you planned went off without a hitch. Every tour, every restaurant, every train and activity came through..."
"Thank you again from all three of us for your help in planning such a delightful trip. I know that..."
"Madeline carefully planned a fabulous, personalized 19 day itinerary (Lake Garda, Dolomites, N/S Tuscany, Rome) that enabled us to be..."
Join our mailing list to get the free Driving In Italy eBook
Check out the Travel Expert Network where you’ll find Certified Travel Experts™ like us ready to plan custom bucket trips for you all over the world!
Visit the Travel Expert Network →
Subscribe to our newsletter.