Surprising Things About Rome

  • There is a lot of trust, even for tourists. For example, at a bodega, I picked up some tomato sauce from a shelf in the shop that was far from the owner and harder to get to. The owner asked me how much it was and trusted me to give the correct amount (and translate it into Italian). Same thing at our kebab place: after we finished eating, he asked us to list what we had eaten, and just charged us for that. In a city as big as this one, we were surprised by the lack of cynicism. (Though that may say more about us than it does about them.)
  • The amount of smoking. Cars in RomeIt just doesn’t compare to any of the other cities we have already visited in Italy.
  • The amount of car pollution. Ditto the above.
  • Because it’s such a sprawling city, it seemed like most locals had cars or used buses a lot.
  • We don’t think we’ve seen any modern skyscrapers – though we’ve only visited certain sections of the city.
  • Aside from the Colosseum and the Pantheon, most of the other ruins of the city – of which there are hundreds – are not at all packed with tourists. Likely, there are too many ruins to be crawling in visitors at any one time.
  • At a long ago point in history, the word ‘Jews’ (in Italian) became a major epithet for Romans. Instead, they have been calling Jews ‘Hebrews’ for centuries (millennia?).
  • There are a ton of churches, and many of them are truly very different from one another.
  • That despite all signage and common sense, visitors to Roman churches or to Vatican City wear vastly inappropriate clothing. My new favorite was the guy I saw at the Vatican wearing a t-shirt with swearing on it. None of that starred out stuff (e.g. f*ck): this was a straight-up profanity emblazoned across his chest, while he was viewing the Sistine Chapel. Way to go, dude!

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3 thoughts on “Surprising Things About Rome

  1. Pingback: What We Saw in Rome | Novelty Buffs

  2. Great list. I can add a couple. One goes along with the pollution. I find Rome really loud — even compared with large metropolises such as New York City and Tokyo. The second is not all that surprising when you stop to think about it, but I was amazed by how many nuns in habits we spotted. You just don’t see that in North America where we live. My husband and I joked that you could play “spot the order” bingo because there was such a variety of them. One additional surprising thing we saw in a number of tourist kiosks on the street was a calendar for sale with an attractive priest on the cover. It was all in Italian (which we don’t speak), but I took a photo of it and researched it on the Internet. It was a calendar of “hot priests.” Crazy!

    • Sad that we missed the hot priests! We saw a calendar of ‘Cats of Rome,’ but that was sadly it. And those are great additions to the list!

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