This article might be regarded as excessive and also granted. It might be true for both considerations, but I wished to give a total picture of the subject, without investigating or trying to guess what could be known or not. It is a Roman approach to the city.
There are some sort of basic rules to apply strictly if you really wish to visit the eternal city, otherwise you can only say that you have been in a very peculiar movie set ( Rome ) , with unbelievable scenery and props looking so real to mesmerize you ,but you cannot declare to have been in Rome. These rules are basically based upon the proverb : When in Rome, do as the Romans do and as a matter of fact the author is entirely Roman. In this connection I wish to point out a characteristic that Rome has: you become a Roman citizen (from the perception point of view ) in a matter of weeks, you do not need to belong to the city or to have been born there, you just act as one of them and I believe that apart from New York, this is the only city in the world with this approach
These simple basic rules are: sharing. That is all you need.
To make it a bit clearer, we are talking about your behavior when in a different set of social rules, such as being abroad and specifically in Rome.
Before anybody starts frowning let us explain. United Nations, international law, Italian legislation, human rights grant you to be yourself with no change if you do not harm other people, but in this way you will always be a tourist, even in your home town. If you want to be part of the surroundings and only if you want to be that way, some minor changes are mandatory. We are talking about these changes in your habits. Let us define sharing as the way you control:
your own emotions,
your external behavior,
your interfacing the people around you when in a different land or set of culture and in this specific case: Rome.
At this point it is mandatory to become a bit more technical to explain the whole issue.
Arlic Russell Hochschild of the University of California, Berkeley, in his essay :Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure, explains, putting together several points, that:
The emotion-management perspective is a lens through which to inspect the self, interaction, and structure Emotion, it is argued, can be and often is subject to acts of management. The individual often works on inducing or inhibiting feelings so as to render them "appropriate" to a situation. It allows us to inspect at closer range than either of those perspectives the relation among emotive experience, emotion management, feeling rules, and ideology. Feeling rules are seen as the side of ideology that deals with emotion and feeling. A reexamination of class differences in child rearing suggests that middle-cl*** families prepare their children for emotion management more and working-class families prepare them less. In this way each cl*** prepares its children to psychologically reproduce the class structure. Social psychology has suffered under the tacit ***umption that emotion, because it seems unbidden and uncontrollable, is not governed by social rules. Social rules, for their part, are seen as applying to behavior and thought, but rarely to emotion or feeling. If we reconsider the nature of emotion and the nature of our capacity to try shaping it, we are struck by the imperial scope of social rules. Significant links emerge among social structure, feeling rules, emotion management, and emotive experience—links, which I try to trace in this essay. The purpose is to suggest an area for inquiry."
Rather significant in the essay just quoted is the conception: In this way each class prepares its children to psychologically reproduce the class structure, which in a few words means: when in Rome you keep doing what you do at home. This is the core of the problem. Loads of people will bump into you and interfere with you when visiting the city. The mental approach that in the end all the cities are alike and there is very little change among them, is totally wrong in this context. You are not in Bangkok, Moscow, Astana, Amsterdam or Paris: you are in Rome and different rules apply: the same way they apply to the mentioned cities. In a few words: WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANS DO !
Would you like to know Who Said It first?: Saint Ambrose in the year 387 . The Story behind It is as follows : When Saint Augustine arrived in Milan, he observed that the Church did not fast on Saturday as did the Church at Rome. He consulted Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan, who replied : When I am at Rome, I fast on Saturdays; when I am at Milan, I do not fast!. Follow the custom of the Church where you are!The comment eventually became:" When in Rome, do as Romans do".
In order to help you to set yourself in the new background, I will point some main cl***es of "behaviors " to bear in mind.
People in uniform. Whatever is your conception about police, the standard Roman middle class respect them even when they have no international standards. They are very suspicious in the beginning, but react favorably to your keeping a courteous approach, respectful and friendly at the same time, as you do consider them your friends.
Bus conductors. They are often mad at everything and they are bloody right, considering the roman traffic and roman passengers, hateful and always complaining. Be patient and do not react. Smile! They get the message.
Italian people selling or begging "services": let us open a general note. Nobody does anything freely: there is always a return implied. Rome is not your own town and you do not belong to it, so you can ignore all of them in a total packge, whatever they are offering you, especially when they have a pen in their hands, offering it to you to sign a petition. Keep them distant, smiling but ignoring them totally, not a single word. Your words would be read as an authorization to start talking to you.
Colored people selling objects.
Other general rule. We do not give a dam in British English, or to use a tough American expression
about skin color, but surely it is an indication. If a pale skin lady, blond haired
talks to me, it surely implies that she stores unbelievable delights for Her pale skin is just an helpful hint on the lady's mentality and background. So it is a positive help.
Now, a colored man in Rome, selling objects, means that he has arrived with that tragic immigration boats, often sinking and filling the Mediterranean sea with corpses of people who did not "do it". He is trying to survive and has no room for empathy or understanding: his task is to sell you anything. However he is not a stupid and knows that with no residence papers, he cannot overdo it or exceed. He can be a little cheeky, (expression a British lady would use ), or a slight pain in the arse, but never overdoing it. Furthermore most likely, in his original country, people when relaxed are more polite than in Europe, . Smile at them, but give them the message there is no chance.
Young locals trying to pick you up. This is for young ladies wandering alone, in the possible case you do not like them, Do not run away as a mouse chased by a cat! Stop suddenly! Turn around! Give them a two second look, that you can see on the video 1 below, and then total silence whatever they say. If they insist, look at any policeman in the surrounding and raise your hand. That is enough.
To give you an example of stupidity , yesterday at 1 pm , I was at the traffic lights of piazza Flaminio next to Piazza del Popolo, standing in the middle of fifty or sixty people waiting for the green light. Next to me there was an aged tourist with his wife and a bottle of water in his hands, that looked steamy for the heat. I told him in English: Hay, , on the other side of the cross, there is a fountain with cold water, one of the best in Rome, fill up your bottle there! and pointed at the fountain.
Should I have said :do you want to follow me for a live sex show, the reaction would have been milder. He ran away. If he had any doubt regarding the public fountain water, I could have explained him that the Rome water is very good as it comes from springs located in the mountains 40 kms away and has never given even an hint of a problem.
However, whatever his doubts were, he could just
1. Listen to what I was saying
2. Thank me for the suggestion and walk away.
In this way he would have not missed the experience of the a cold drink of roman water. This is the way you might lose nice experiences. Listen before reacting!
Now let us use it as an example to analyze it, in order you can have an hint. Nothing can happen to you in an European city at 1 pm in the middle of fifty people, right in the centre of the city. If the guy talking to you, is well dressed and speaks with a fluent English , you should listen to him. In the case he is making strange proposals, you smile and walk away: he cannot do anything as you are not a zombie located in the middle of the African bush. Rome , in the central area, between 8 am and 9 pm, allows to be relaxed, even if you are a young lady by yourself: no problem! The only real problem area, is the underground, as explained in this site , in the Safety in Rome
For the rest of the city, if the person talking to you keeps himself at a safe distance, you have the opportunity to examine him and try to understand him: he might add something to your Roman experience. If suddenly the fellow says something you doubt or dislike, you just look at your watch and say: Thank you for everything, I have to go! Then ignore him totally, whatever he says. NEVER, I say, NEVER any confrontation, young powerful wrestler American ladies .
Going back to the above example, an hour after my negative experience, at 2 pm, I did not give up and next to the concert hall Auditorium, saw a young couple of Italian tourists, waiting for a special bus. I informed them that the special bus would run only after 5 pm and gave them the alternate bus indications, saving them a long useless wait and receiving warm thanks
Most of Romans ( and Italians) do not speak a perfect English, but they are extremely pleased to attempt doing it. Maybe because they can show the surrounding people they are a sort of international guys, but any way they do it, even if it may result in using lot of gestures to convey the message. Use this kindness. Although I have been living in an Anglo-American background for nearly all my life, I do not understand the continuous use of a map when in the central Rome. Ask around, just to have a contact with local people and find out yourself, follow these rules look for well dressed people, preferably ladies under fifties who do not walk in an hurry. Police people would be delighted to assist you, their English is poor, bur their climbing over language difficulties, is exceptional. A strong suggestion: do not use any Italian you might know and at the same time do not speak in English as the stock exchange operators giving selling orders during a panic moment. Speak slowly and distinctively, the same way you do in Beijing when making an order to the Chinese waiter
By the way when I mention central Rome, I have to make an exception: the central Termini station, all the way back and one hundred meters on the right, left and front side. The whole area is quite relaxing and controlled , but not good for contacts: believe me! You yourself would be more Roman than the majority of the local fauna
Another tip, even if this will cause some reaction: Muslim or other oriental people are quite safe and should not generate fears. Black from Africa have some exception even if I always joke with them, unemployed (for destiny or for choice) whilst Romanians or Albanians unfortunately can generate problems if not kept under control. You should better avoid them totally.
I do understand this is a generalization but please remember statistics and weather forecasts are based upon generalization. If you were a New York based company hiring around in the world , you would have different tools for scanning cities, but as simple tourists travelling around and asking for information, the above tips in my opinion should be applied
In this site you can find a In the picture where I show an area where even a young lady can walk around at any time of day and night , properly dressed, and most of all,SOBER at any time of day and night.Shopping areas in Rome
Naturally this is my personal opinion, but it is rather conservative.
I suppose I have to explain the sober conception!. To get drunk in Italy is not socially accepted: it corresponds to kill a sparrow in a London park or declaring at a U.S. convention you cheat heavily on tax. You do not do it: full stop. Naturally you can see some of them around, but they are beggars or stupid local young people, always together to their companions, who know their way around. If you want to get drunk by all means, I would strongly suggest you to do it in your hotel room, the same way you satisfy your physiological needs, in your private toilet. Getting drunk in public you would have the experience shown in video 2 below.