On any given day in Rome you’ll come across Romans dressed stylishly, “to the nines” as well as the city’s less fortunate (gypsies from Albania and the local “characters”).

The lady in the second half of these photos was talking to herself and bathing in the fountain. This was on Via Giulia, one the most expensive streets in Rome to live.

Via Giulia is a beautiful street for a stroll since it runs parallel to the Tevere (Tiber river). Designed by Bramante for Pope Julius II, who wanted a new approach road to St Peter‘s, it is lined with Renaissance palaces, antique shops, art galleries and fountains.

At its southern end, near Ponte Sisto, is the Fontana del Mascherone, a baroque fountain made by combining  two ancient pieces of sculpture: a grotesque mask and a stone basin. This is where the older woman I saw was bathing and chatting away to herself.

Just beyond it and spanning the road is Arco Farnese, from which cascading ivy creepers brush cars as they crunch over the cobblestones.

It was a surprise for me to learn that Arco Farnese was built to a design by Michelangelo, constructed as part of an unfinished project to connect Palazzo Farnese with Villa Farnesina on the opposite side of the Tevere.