Thursday, August 29, 2013


…There are only two kinds of pedestrians in Rome: fast pedestrians and dead pedestrians.
I had heard that before arriving, and now that I’m here, I see firsthand how it’s completely true.  The sidewalks are remarkably narrow, the roadways not much better.  Mopeds, motorcycles, and even vans, scream, full-throttle through every intersection, down every alley, whether or not there’s a viable opening for them to get through/past.  If you’re not alert, you can easily have one of your buttocks ripped off, an elbow unhinged, or your feet thrown out from under you. 

There are plenty of similarities with Europe and America, but, of course, there are differences, some subtle yet huge: In Europe it’s “guilty until proven innocent.”  In Europe, “Hey, you, better watch the hell out or I’m going to run your ass over and not bother looking back.”
I wonder how many accidents there are each day.

But who knew Rome could be so wonderful.  Wow.

It’s like NYC with some of the voltage stripped away, yet effervescent, claustrophobic in the way that big cities are (and have to be), full of diverse people, with scenery (shops; displays; that weird whose face is painted gold) constantly calling for your attention.

The shopping is endless.  Every major designer, and then some, is here.

The people-watching is riveting (if, like me, you enjoy that sort of thing).  You can hear all sorts of different languages in the din.  Most of the crowds, except for the Americans, are dressed pretty stylishly.  There are no homeless people, just every now and then a stray woman in full dress, bend over, lying on the cement, head down to the stone, moaning, with an upraised cup in her palm.  She shows up in crowded areas, at the entrance and exits of churches, at the Coliseum…

Religion--specifically, Catholicism--has left its imprint somewhere on virtually every block of the city and the surrounding areas.  The cathedrals are magnificent, maybe too much so.  In the Vatican you get a clear picture of the power the papacy holds—power and wealth—and to me it was a bit unnerving.   Excess is everywhere, gaudy excess, the opposite of what you‘d expect to find if you visited Jesus’s.

One of my new favorite things is the sound of Italian kids talking.  It has to be the cutest sound in the world.  When I hear them, it makes me want to go up and give them a hug.

Now it’s onto Florence, then Nice and Paris.  I’m here with my wife.  We’re celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.  Seven days down, nine more to enjoy.

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