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March 07, 2006



Hope you post more pics in the days ahead. I'm also relieved to hear that the crime and pickpockets didn't turn out to be as bad as some of the discussions on your blog and other net sites. I'm taking off for Rome two months from today exactly. Your pic at the Coloseum was especially fun for me to see as I'm staying at a place called Santa Sofia which is located on the Piazza Madonna dei Monti and from what I can learn off the net is pretty much within spitting distance of the Coloseum. I'd be interested to know if you had any trouble getting into the Pope's General Audience even with your tickets? I remember reading that someone had problems with the Swiss Guards letting them through even though they had tickets. Hope you post lots more on the trip when you're rested up.

Jim Foerster

Glad to hear you made it back safe and sound. Your reflections are exactly what I experienced during three weeks in Rome some 23 years ago, except at that time Rome was dirty. If you wore white, by the end of the day it was gray. Yes, the gypsies and pickpockets were out in force and you could actually feel the hands on your backside on crowded buses. But I loved every minute of that city. The most shocking thing for me was the discarded hypodermics you would find in isolated places. Those were the pre-AIDS days, so your only worry was hepatitis and tetanus. And the scarf sellers: they do a wicked business in the summer when tourists think they can go into churches dressed in tank tops and shorts. A scarf around the shoulders and tied around the waist and voila, you are appropriately attired for God's house. There were scarf vendors practically outside of every notable church.

The visits may be short, but the memories live long. Viva Roma!


As you know (though I suspect my email has long since drifted from your memory) my wife and I were in Rome the week before you (blogged here).

We had the same experience as you with regards the sellers - mostly not agressive at all. We had one run in with a guy by the Trevi - he started following us and singing love songs and was most put out when we were not interested in buying a rose. If we go back, I reckon we might have to take a rose with us so they leave us alone.


My favorite Metro memory?

Sitting across from two elderly Asian women, speaking animatedly in Italian with that kind of high, sing-song pitch we tend to associate with eastern Asian languages, and with Italian-style hand gesticulations.

The now-elderly children of Chinese immigrants, I wondered?

After all, Rome too has it's own little Chinatown (near Quattro Fontane), with a ristorante cinese here and there.....


When my family and I were in Rome two summers ago, we stayed near the Trevi. And similar to your experience, the only pushy vendors were the ones at the Trevi. I more than once had to take a toy out of my (then 5-year-old) daughter's hands to give it back to the vendor. They'd just shove it into her hands and hit me up for cash.

And don't even get me started on the rose vendors. Horribly aggressive to the point of stalking!

Anne K

The Termini train station is DEFINATELY not as bad as people say it it....My friends and I slept in it one night this summer as we were making our way (refugee-style) to Cologne for World Youth Day. We survived the night just fine :)

Jim C.

I went to Italy for 2 weeks in July '77 with a tour group through Loyola U., and in Rome we stayed at their Rome Center (summer classes had ended). Obviously a lot of time has passed and things have changed, but neither I nor the people I was with nor AFAIK anyone on the tour had any problems at all with shop or restaurant staff, or aggressive street vendors or beggars in Rome or any of the cities we visited. In fact, I don't remember ANY beggars anywhere.

Of course,it was not the tourist season, being July and hot (but much drier than a typical Chicago summer, so not as uncomfortable), so crowds and the problems they attract were not a factor. The only thing approaching a crowd I remember was waiting to see the Sistine Chapel.

You know how they say don't drink the water, no ice, etc.? Well, I finally couldn't resist and bought a piece of iced coconut from a street vendor at the Spanish Steps. Lucky for me, no problem. Your mileage may vary. :)


Just got back from Rome myself and it was great. Never had a bad experience, expect for one guy who walked behind us asking for money near the Termini train station, but we knew about the area. Didn't go on the buses at all, just walked and felt safe the entire time. Rome is definately a great place to visit for history and art buffs.


I leave home in just over a week and will hit Rome just before Easter. Have been there before but it is such a fascinating city. I love wandering all the little streets in the centre. And I love the way you keep stumbling on old columns etc from ancient Rome, just dotted all over the place.
What I hated most about the gypsy 'beggars' wherever I came across them in Europe, was the way their babies/toddlers always looked so flaccid and pathetic. I am sure they must have been drugged, and that made me feel quite angry.
I travel as a backpacker (only way I can stay so long)and the hostel I am in is not far from Termini. I stayed there several years ago at Christmas. Definitely not an area to go walking in alone after dark. But about two minutes walk to Santa Maria Maggiore where the music for Christmas Eve Mass was unbelievably beautiful. I intend to make it to the Easter Vigil there this year.

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