If you’ve only travelled to Rome through your imagination thus far, there may be a few things that will surprise you in Rome, just as they surprised me.
1. It’s more than ruins and churches
Before visiting, I only thought of ancient sites and the Vatican when Rome came to mind. I wasn’t prepared for the charming streets, medieval districts ripe for exploration. Trastevere was a particularly charming area, and it really came alive in the evenings, with street performers and was a lively and charming area. Perfect to spend an evening watching the street performers in the square and have an evening beverage.
2. The racial divide
You’ll notice that it’s usually African-Italians or Indian-Itallians pestering tourists to buy a tacky wooden basket or a water bottle. Life is tough for immigrants everywhere, and you don’t get to turn a blind eye to it when you’re holidaying in Rome.
3. All the kissing and groping
Maybe it’s just a surprise to me as I’ve spent the last 8 months in the conservative countries of India and Turkey. Not to mention that I’m feeling those single-girl blues after leaving a gorgeous special boy behind in Istanbul. But bloody hell, everywhere you look there are lovebirds smooching each other or not-so-sneakily boob-fondling.
4. How well-dressed everyone is
Perfect leather shoes, bright lipsticks and colourful scarves. Those Roman women know how to make an impression. (Here’s me trying. LOL.)
5. The queues
Okay so you probably expect this because it’s Rome. But what did surprise me was how difficult they are to avoid even if you do all the right things according to the internet. For example, I purchased my Colosseum ticket at the Roman Forum so I could avoid the Colosseum ticket queue, as a Google search recommended. But, low and behold, the queue at the Colosseum was super long for those who had tickets, and empty for those purchasing tickets! Looks like everyone else read the same thing online…
6. The food and wine
Of course it’s delicious, but what surprised was that it’s so much more than pizza and pasta. Roman food includes so many different dishes including delicious roast meats and vegetables. The above artichoke dish I ate in Piazza Navona was scrumptious.
7. Art everywhere
You’ll find frescoes, sculptures, statues and fountains on every street corner. I love that the history of the city has morphed into modernity in such a relaxed way. You’re just walking around, minding your own business and hey look there’s a casual thousand year old piece of art right in front of your face.
8. The role of religion
This also shouldn’t come as a surprise because it is the centre of the Catholic Church. But if you don’t know much about the way Catholicism is expressed through art, rituals, architecture and daily life, you’re in for a quick education. It might even change your mind about Christianity as it did for me (Post coming soon).
9. The way people communicate
Italians have this amazing talent for using the entire range of vocal and physical human capabilities when they communicate. Each conversation is a song and dance and its a joy to watch. You’ll also have massive language-lust for those romantic Italian vowels.
Where I stayed: Papa Germano
What I’m reading: On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
Have you been to Rome? What surprised you?