Rome – Jan 19-26, 2018
Tips for Rome
1. Buy the Roma Pass. It comes as 48 hours (~28€ – includes 1 museum) or 72 hours (~38€ – includes 2 museums). Besides the museums, it basically covers the Coliseum, Palatine, and the Roman Forum and gives free use of the metro for the duration. For the museums, I would recommend the Capitoline and Galleria Burghese. Don’t buy it until you are just about to enter one of the sites, usually the Coloseum and keep track of the time. Mine expired one hour before I could have used at the Borguese (22€ with the special Bernini exhibit). It is a good deal and allows you to pass all the long lines to buy tickets.
2. Rome is a great city to walk. There are few hills and you have close up views of all the amazing architecture. It is one big museum. But the streets are not in a grid pattern, are often curved and present direction problems.
3. Romans don’t hike. I wanted to buy some things for hiking (zip-off -leg pants, some small Nalgene bottles for shampoo and a belt with a clasp). Base Camp is a great mountaineering store but has virtually nothing hiking related. They didn’t know of a store that sold hiking stuff and I couldn’t find one online. Despite the common advice that you can always buy things on the road and other than simple clothes, I find that this to be not true.
4. Avoid the posing centurions and the aggressively friendly black men who thrust trinkets in your hand expecting money.
Rome has 18 sites to see on Nomad Mania (marked with an *) and my goal was to see all of them. It is a big task to do in one week and takes good organization. Seeing museums with all the labeled exhibits can be exhausting, but I rarely buy audioguides. The information is usually repeated and I can speed read much faster than the guide.
Roman Coloseum. Rome’s great gladiatorial arena (built from 72-82 AD) is the most thrilling of Rome’s ancient sites and one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
It’s inauguration saw games that lasted 100 days and nights slaughtering 5000 animals. Trajan later topped this with a marathon 117-day killing spree involving 9000 gladiators and 10,000 animals.
The outer walls had 3 rows of arches and were originally clad in travertine. A huge canvas awning held aloft by 240 masts to shield the spectators from sun and rain covered the walls. The 80 entrance arches allowed the spectators to enter and be seated in a matter of minutes. The arena had a wood floor with trapdoors covering an underground complex (hypogeum) where animals were caged and sets for various battles were hoisted up to the areas by a complicated system of pulleys. Seating 50-70,000 people, had the cheap seats at the top relegated to women.
With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Colloseum was abandoned. In the Middle Ages, two of the cities warrior families occupied it as a fortress. Later it was plundered of its precious travertine and marble stripped to make huge palaces. A €25 million restoration ended in 2016. Besides the walls and walkways, there are no seats left and the ruins of the hypogeum are exposed.
Arc of Constantine. On the side of the Colosseum, this monumental triple arch dating to 315AD has great bas-relief dioramas.
Pyramid of Cestius. The pyramid was built about 18–12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate. It is of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble The pyramid measures 100 Roman feet (29.6 m) square at the base and stands 125 Roman feet (37 m) high. The burial chamber had been plundered when first opened in 1660. It is not possible to access the interior. It was built during a period when Rome was going through a fad for all things Egyptian.
At the time of its construction, the Pyramid of Cestius would have stood in open countryside (tombs being forbidden within the city walls). During the construction of the Aurelian Walls between 271 and 275, the pyramid was incorporated into the walls to form a triangular bastion. Due to its incorporation into the city’s fortifications, it is today one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome. It still forms part of a well-preserved stretch of the walls, a short distance from the Porta San Paolo. Take the metro to Piramide station.
Day 2. Roman Rome. Basically all that is left are a pile of ruins whose massive scale demonstrates the opulence of the Romans. Most everything was plundered for building material over the centuries.
Palatine Hill. This is where Romulus supposedly founded the city in 753 BC after killing his brother Remus in a fit of anger. Rome’s most exclusive neighbourhood from the first century for 300 years, Rome’s emperors including Augustus, Flavius, Domitian, Tiberius and Severus built successively opulent palaces. After Rome’s decline, churches and castles were built over them in the middle ages and eventually the area was only gardens and pastures. Towering pine trees are a highlight. Views one way are down to Circus Maximus (able to seat 250,000, now just a huge bare oval of grass as all the bleachers were plundered) and the other way to the Roman Forum.
Roman Forum. Once ancient Rome’s social, political and commercial hub first developed in the 7th century BC, it was a pasture in the middle age and now is a rather confusing sprawl of ruins as most of its stone and marbled has been plundered.
Imperial Forums. The forums of Trajan, Augustus, Nerva and Caesar are ruins sitting below and surrounded by roads. Trajan’s Column, completed in 113 AD, is 35m high and is made of a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums each weighing about 32 tons, with a diameter of 3.7 metres. The 190-metre spiral bas-relief frieze celebrating Trajan’s victory over the Dacians (101–102, 105–106 AD) winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps provides access to a viewing platform at the top (not open). The capital block weighs 53.3 tons and had to be lifted to a height of 34 metres (112 feet).
Capitoline Museums*. Dating to 1472, these are the world’s oldest public museums. The collection of classical sculpture are some of Italy’s finest: the iconic Etruscan Capitaline Wolf of Romulus and Remus suckling a wolf, the Spinario, a delicate 1st century bronze of a boy removing a thorn from his foot, Gian Bernini’s Medusa, and Marcus Aurelius on a horse (original in a massive gallery inside and a copy in the square outside). Masterpieces by Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens and Caravaggio are formidable. Cross a tunnel to the sculpture museum on the other side of the square.
Chiesa di Santa Maria in Aracoeli, the highest point in this part of Rome is reached by steep steps near the museum.
Monet Exhibit at Museo Nazionale del Palazzo Venezia. I passed the long line for tickets at this museum on my way to the Capitoline Museum and on my way down decided to see it. An audioguide gave wonderful explanations of a broad cross-section of this famous impressionist painter. His later paintings were probably the first abstracts.
Il Vittorno. Most locals loath this massive mountain of white marble that towers over Plazza Venezia providing Rome’s best 360° views. It has a small museum and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Day 3. On Mondays, many museums are closed, but it creates crowded days at the Vatican.
Vatican Museums*. Founded in the early 16th century and enlarged by successive popes, they are one of the world’s greatest art collections. They are housed in a vast 5.5-hectare complex consisting of 2 palaces joined by two long galleries and housing 3 courtyards. Exhibits are displayed along about 7kms of halls and corridors. Labels are sufficient but not great. There is so much to see, it is exhausting and one can only take in so much in one day. Avoid the long lines for tickets by buying then online. Tuesdays and Thursdays are quietest, and Wednesday is good as many are at the Pope’s weekly audience. Mondays are busy as so many other museums are closed. Bring your own food and drink.
Exhibits range from Egyptian pieces taken during Roman times, Etruscan bronzes, a huge collection of classical statuary, mosaics, topographical maps, Belgian tapestries, four Raphael rooms with wonderful frescos, and a huge collection of masterpieces by all the greats. Anywhere else the magnificent frescoed rooms would be the star attraction, but here they serve as the warm-up for the last exhibit, the Sistine Chapel.
Sistine Chapel. The chapel was originally built in 1483 by Pope Sixtus IV, after whom it is named. But apart from the wall frescoes and floor, little remains of the original décor, much of which was sacrificed to make way for Michelangelo. The jewel of the crown is home to two of the world’s most famous works of art ever accomplished by a single artist – Michelangelo’s 900 sq. metre ceiling frescos (1508-1512) and the Last Judgement (1535-1541). Both were controversial works influenced by the political ambitions of the popes who commissioned them. The ceiling was an attempt to transform Rome into the Church’s showcase capital and the Last Judgement served as a warning to Catholics to toe the line during the Reformation in Europe. Michelangelo regarded himself as a sculpturer and had little experience painting frescoes. He was paid the equivalent of 1.5-2 million € for the ceiling based on stories from the book of Genesis.
The Last Judgement is a highly charged depiction of Christ’s second coming on the 200 sq. m west wall. It was controversial from the start when Michelangelo destroyed two Perugino frescoes. The swirling mass of 391 predominantly naked bodies provoked scandal. Pope Pius IV had Daniele da Volterra cover 41 nudes. The Sistine Chapel also functions as the place where the conclave meets to elect a new pope.
Via Appia Antica* and Catacombs. The first 90km section of this road was laid in 312 BC and then extended in 100BC to reach Brindisi on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast. It has long been one of Rome’s exclusive addresses, a beautiful cobbled thoroughfare flanked by grassy fields, Roman structures, and towering pine trees. It was here that Spartacus and 6000 of his slave rebels were crucified in 71BC.
To get here, take the metro to Pyramid and take bus 118 out and back.
You can’t visit all 300kms but three major catacombs are open for guided tours. As Christianity was illegal until about 500 AD, Christians couldn’t be buried inside the walls of Rome. Christians also shunned cremation preferring to be buried whole to facilitate resurrection. In all there are 66 catacombs with 300kms of underground burial chambers carved out of tufa on four levels. The lower levels are flooded. They were abandoned for over 1800 years and lost until recently.
Catacomb of San Collisto. These are the largest and most visited of the catacombs. Founded at the end of the second century, they became the official cemetery of the newly established Roman Church. In the 20kms of tunnels explored to date were the tombs of 500,000 people, 16 popes and 60 martyrs. The patron saint of music, St Cecilia was buried here and when her body was exhumed in 1596, it was apparently perfectly preserved. Unlike the Paris catacombs (the Paris cemeteries inside the city were emptied and all the bones put down there), there are no bones, only the narrow cavities carved into the rock, usually just large enough to hold one body. The walls are painted with fading Christian symbols and graffiti is common.
Basilica di San Paolo (Basilica of St Paul). The second largest church in Rome after St Peters and the third largest in the world, it stands on the site where St Paul was buried after being decapitated in 67AD. Built in the 4th century, it was largely destroyed by a fire in 1823, and most is a 19th century reconstruction. But many treasures survived including the 5th century triumphal arch with its restored mosaics, and the Gothic marble tabernacle over the high altar. To the right is a 12th century candlestick with animal-headed creatures. St Paul’s tomb with 9 links of the chain that bound him are in the confessio. The portrait of every pope since St Peter lines below the nave windows. Legend has it that when there is no room for the next pope, the world will fail.
In the cloister are stunning 13th century mosaics decorating the columns.
Day 4. North Rome. This was a huge walk day and I had more than one walk-about as I took a a few wrong turns. I took the metro to Flaminio and walked north.
Plazza del Popolo. Laid out in 1538 as the then northern gateway to Rome and since remodelled several times, this huge square has a 36m obelisk bought by Augustus from ancient Egypt that first stood in Circus Maximus.
Borghese Park. I started my walk form the plazza by climbing several steps to the wonderful Borghese park. Traffic free, it is a paradise of big trees, grass and open spaces. The steps brought me up well west of where I wanted to be but the views down to the city were wonderful.
Museo National Etrusco at Villa Giulia (Etruscan National Museum)*. The Etruscans, from just north of Rome, were active from the 8th century BC until about 280 BC when Rome conquered them. Residing in Pope Julius III’s lovely 16th century villa, besides a huge selection of terracotta statues, pottery and Greek style vases, there is an amazing display of jewelry. Much of it came from burial mounds surrounding Lazio.
Recently, organized by a Russian woman, the museum was broken into, axes used on the display cases and much of the jewelry stolen. In the getaway, most of it was thrown onto the street and all was recovered, but some is still in the hands of the police. I could only imagine what the complete display would look like.
Museo Nacionale d’Arte Moderne Contemoranea (National Modern Art Museum)*. Housed in a vast palace, this is an unsung gem. It includes many of the most important exponents of 19th and 20th century art. A special exhibit included a Latvian artist.
Museo e Galleria Borghese (Borghese Museum)*. Probably the best art museum in Rome, the collection was formed by Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1579-1633). His maternal uncle, Camillo Borghese, was Pope Paul V who in 1605, quickly conferred a cardinalship on Scipione. In the classic pattern of papal nepotism, Cardinal Borghese wielded enormous power as the Pope’s secretary and effective head of the Vatican government. On his own and the Pope’s behalf he amassed an enormous fortune through papal fees and taxes, and acquired vast land holdings for the Borghese family.
There was a special exhibit on Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (father and son) and I think that explained the high 22€ cost. Gian is probably the best marble sculpturer ever and several of his works are dazzling, especially Apollo and Daphne and David. The Bernini works are so overwhelming, one hardly notices the rooms – all of over the top Versailles quality.
From the Galleria, to get to the Spanish steps, descend the busy road crossing the wide brick wall as necessary and enter Spagna metro station crossing under the road and large wall.
The Spanish Steps & Plazza Spagna*. These gorgeous 135 steps were built in 1725 to descend the steep slope between Chiesa della Trinità dei Monti (commissioned by King Louis XII of France) down to Plazza Spagna. They were named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, despite having nothing to do with the steps. At the bottom is the sinking boat fountain designed by Pietro Bernini. It’s a great place to people watch. In 2015, the fountain was damaged by Dutch football players.
Chiesa della Trinità dei Monti. Another over the top church with Volterra’s Deposition. Climb the steps to see the church and then descend them for a double tour.
Convento dei Cappuccini. The Capuchins were an austere group of monks established in 1529. To ensure a proper resurrection, they saved everything including the bones of 4000 monks when they died, and until 1870, decorated four small crypt chapels to construct Rome’s strangest site. Each chapel has a theme – skulls, pelvises, thigh-bones, leg bones – stacked (think the Paris catacombs) and used to make arches and altars displaying clothed skeletons. Skeletons of small children and the small bones (jaws, vertebrae, feet and hands) are used to make light fixtures, picture frames and elaborate decorations covering the walls and ceilings. It is very well done and almost attractive in a macabre way.
First pass through a multimedia museum explaining everything you would want to know about the Capuchins.
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica: Plazza Barberini*. Barberini Plazza has an imposing Bernini-designed fountain with a sea-god Triton blowing a stream of water from a conch while seated in a large scallop shell supported by four dolphins.
The sumptuous Barberini family baroque palace museum has two parts with separate admissions: one with many masterpieces and one with different exhibits. The Italian, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) painted composite heads – the most unusual portraits combining elements of the same genus (vegetables, flowers, fish, animals, birds, books) and fantasy linked metaphorically. His most famous represent the four seasons and the four elements and some supposedly still lifes, when inverted become faces. He worked for the imperial courts of Prague and Milan and was extremely popular in his time.
Trevi Fountain*. Built in 1732, this gleaming white fountain takes up the entire side of a 17th century palace. Neptune’s chariot is led by Tritons with horses, one wild and one docile, representing the moods of the sea. Water from the 1st century aqua virgo cascades over the base, a jumble of white boulders. Trevi refers to the three roads that converge at the fountain.
Tradition is to toss a coin into the water to ensure that you will return to Rome. About 3000€ is thrown in every day. It is always crowded.
Day 5. The Centre from Termini to Centro Historico. A huge day and the day I got religion. All the churches in Rome are over-the-top displays of gilt, marble, paintings, sculptures and wonderful marble or mosaic floors. They are fast to see.
Chiesa di Santa Prassade. This out-of-the-way church has wonderful mosaics produced by artists whom Pope Paschal I brought in from Byzantium – typical bold gold backgrounds and marked Christian symbolism. The entire nave is a mosaic and the floor is wonderful marble mosaics.There is also a piece of the column that Christ was tied when he was flogged.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore*. One of Rome’s four patriarchal basilicas, this monumental 5th century church on the summit of the Esqualine Hill was remodelled several times. The outside has glimmering 13th century mosaics and Rome’s tallest belfry at 75m. Spectacular 5th century mosaics decorate the triumphal arch and nave. The crypt has Pope Pius IX kneeling before a reliquary containing a fragment of Jesus’ manger. Gian Lorenzo Bernini and his father Pietro are buried under steps to the right of the nave. I didn’t go into the museum of religious relics.
Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme*. One of the four National Rome Museums. I followed a university class around and heard a great discussion of the discus thrower, hermaphrodite and several other displays. Some of the mosaics are very nice, but I’ve seen much better in Jordan and Tunisia. A good museum. All four are included in one 15€ price.
Museo Nazionale Romano: Terme di Docleziano*. This was Rome’s largest bath complex at 13 hectares.
Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli. A huge church originally designed by Michelangelo.
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria. Has Berninis’s sexually charged Ecstasy of St. Theresa.
Chiesa di San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. This tiny oval church uses light from the dome and hidden window to transform it into a place of light and beauty. It sits at the intersection of the Quattro Fontane, 16th-century fountains on its four corners representing Fidelity, Strength and the rivers Arno and Tiber.
Museo Nazionale Romano: Crypta Balbi*. The least known of the four museums in this system, it sits over medieval buildings that lie over an urban development exposed in an excavation.
Largo di Torre Argentina. Set around the sunken remains of four Republican temples from the 2-4th centuries that is out of bounds, it is now home to about 250 stray cats cared for my volunteers. Its western side is near where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 43 AD.
Museum of Lorcan O’Neill*. On the Nomad Mania list, this small museum tucked into an alley hosts American and English exhibitors. It has been closed since May and opens in mid February, 2018. It was a significant walk out of my way and location obscure (the only sign was a tiny label on an intercom). I buzzed and was allowed to see the two small exhibit rooms, so even though there was no show, I am counting it for my list.
Elephantino. This statue of a puzzled-looking elephant carries a 6th century BC Egyptian obelisk and dates from 1667.
Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Clad in scaffolding, this massive church is Rome’s only Gothic church. It is best known for Michelangelo’s Jesus carrying a cross and the burial site of St Catherine of Siena, minus her head.
Pantheon*. This temple built by Hadrian in 125 AD has the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built and the largest cupola in the world until the 15th century. It has precisely calibrated symmetry – its diameter is exactly equal to it interior height of 43.3m. It was dedicated to the classical gods, hence the name Pantheon. In 608 AD, it was consecrated as the Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martes and thus spared the worst of medieval plundering leaving it the best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments and one of the most influential buildings in the Western world. The exterior is worse for wear but the cavernous marble-clad interior holds the tomb of Raphael and two kings.
Museo di Roma*. An eclectic collection of photographs, paintings, clothes, and furniture chart the history of Rome from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. I very much enjoyed it. The palazzo itself has a courtyard and monumental staircase.
Plazza Navona. Rome’s showcase square has three wonderful fountains: Fontana dei Moro and Fontano dei Nettuno (Neptune’s Fountain) on the ends and spectacular Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) with personifications of the rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate.
Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone. A gorgeous small oval church on the side of Plazza Navona.
Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi. Home to Rome’s French community since 1559, it contains a celebrated trio of Caravaggio paintings from 1600-1602.
Museo Nazionale Romano: Plaza Altemps*. My last thing to see on this exhausting day (and the last of the four Roman National museums), it houses Rome’s formidable collection of classical sculpture and Egyptian collection.
I took my Air BnB host out for dinner. After spending more on one meal than I did all week eating cheap, I was not impressed. I make better pizza at home. The croquettes were heavy. This food was a big surprise for me.
Vatican City. The world’s smallest sovereign state was established in 1929 as the modern vestige of the Papal States, the papal fiefdom that ruled much of central Italy until 1861. At only 44 acres, it has extraterritorial authority over a further 28 sites in and around Rome. It has its own postal service, newspaper, radio station and army, the nattily dressed Swiss Guards, all Catholics from Switzerland.
St Peter’s Basilica. Italy’s largest, richest and most spectacular church it was completed in 1626 after 120 years of construction. The original church was commissioned by Emperor Constantine in 349 on the site where St Peter is said to be buried between 64 and 67 AD. The church has 4 equal arms and a massive 184m tall central dome directly over the famous baldachin over St Peter’s tomb. It is possible to climb the 551 steps to the top of the dome. The cavernous 187m-long interior (more than 15,000 sq. m) contains many artistic masterpieces. The pope is the only priest permitted to serve at the altar. The Pope has an audience in St Peter’s Square every Wednesday morning at 10am.
Grottos and Tomb of St Peter. I was able to arrange the guided Scarvi tour here on short notice (usually booked 4-6 months ahead). In 1942, the bones of an elderly man were found in a box hidden behind a wall and then claimed to be those of St Peter. Although no proof exists, most of the tour was centreed on trying to convince us of that fact, even though the entire grotto area is full of Christian burials.
Groups of 12 were on the tour. Most were Catholics from America (and some Australians and me, an ardent atheist). A couple from Atlanta showed typical Americana. He was a pilot for Delta and thus had been to many countries and she bragged that she had been to Maine. When asked if I was a Catholic, I had to hold back from letting loose about my extremely negative view of Catholicism: a church rooted in 15th century values (forbids contraception and divorce, homosexuality, use of condoms to prevent AIDs, enforces celibacy of priests, and doesn’t allow female priests) and despite bragging about tolerance of all religions, fails to ever mention the Inquisition, the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal in 1584 and its complicit tolerance of the Holocaust in WWII. It’s greatest sin is not taking responsibility for the rape and sodomization of millions of little boys. Wherever one goes in the Western world, churches are justifiably empty. I found the catacombs under the Via Appia much more interesting and realistic.
St Peter’s Square. Laid out in 1667 by Bernini, it has two semicircular colonnades consisting of 4 rows of Doric columns (representing the motherly arms of the church) for a total of 284 columns with 140 statues of saints on top and measuring 340 by 240 m.
I actually enjoyed the exact copy (of the floor plan, but one metre higher) in the capital of Cote d’Ivoire. It has fixed pews for 20,000 and wonderful stained glass windows, giving it a much simpler and airy feeling.
Castel Sant’Angelo*. Initially built as a mausoleum by Hadrian, it was converted into a papal fortress in the 6th century. The upper floors were elaborate residences for the popes and views from the top of Rome are unforgettable.
Ponte Sant’Angelo. Hadrian built this bridge in 136 to provide an approach to his mausoleum.
Museum of Criminology*. Also on the Nomad Mania list, this museum was a long walk and hunt for its obscure location. Closed for renovation, I made such an effort to get here that I am including it.
After my relatively easy day, I took a leisurely walk about home passing more of Rome’s sites.
On January 26th, I took the bus to Florence. Flixbus is the only bus company to use in Europe. Besides being unbelievably cheap, the buses are new, comfortable and have wi-fi, but also tend to be crowded.
Some observations on Italy
1. Despite what I had heard, Italians are extremely nice. I don’t travel with a phone and use hand maps and a compass to get around (what a Luddite). In my old age, I also seem to be very directionally impaired, and so I frequently ask directions – a lot. I have never had a negative response in Italy. People went out of their way to explain directions. This is the complete opposite of the French, who generally are rude assholes if you don’t speak French. I can confidently say that Italians (at least in Genoa, Siena and Rome) are the nicest people in the world.
2. All the Italians I have asked directions from speak at least passable English. If they don’t, they still attempt to give good directions. This may be different when outside the big cities. They often suggest a taxi or a bus and can’t relate to wanting to walk long distances.
3. Italy has a dog problem, or more specifically a dog shit problem. Siena was especially bad and it was a test to avoid all the smears and actual turds lying around. Believe me, you don’t want to get dog poo on your shoes.
4. Bring your own drinks to restaurants (especially if you want pop). The food is reasonably priced but the pop is absurd, usually around 3€ for a can. I rarely drink alcohol so don’t know the prices. The best thing I do is buy sandwich material in the morning (cheese, meat and bread or what ever you like) and have a tasty, cheap lunch.
5. What do you call an Italian with one arm? Speech impaired. What do you call an Italian with no arms? Mute. I could watch Italians talk to each other all day: full of emotion and lots of hand and arm action. In Genoa, the Free Tour guide gave a rundown of the meaning of all the gestures.
6. Foreigners in Italy. Koreans and Chinese are common foreigners in Rome and many places in Italy. They are difficult to separate. Koreans do not have inherently attractive facial features – a broad, flat face – but they certainly do the most to maximize what they have. At least 50% of women and also some men have had plastic surgery – not boob and nose jobs that Westerners have – they make their eyes round and have difficult jaw surgery to make their lower face thinner. Hair is well styled, the women wear a lot of well-applied makeup and they all wear expensive long, cloth coats. Chinese don’t dress nearly as well and favour quilted nylon jackets.
I have virtually never seen them at any of the tourist attractions I go to (exceptions might be the Trevi Fountain or Spanish Steps in Rome). And I’m not sure what they do when they travel. I think they spend a lot of time on their phone and take selfies and giggle at them. They shop. And they don’t eat at McDonalds, only nice expensive restaurants. They are not as socially incompetent as Japanese but close.
There are many Filipinos and south Asians here. Almost all the south Asians I have met are from Bangladesh. They sell selfie sticks and trinkets on the street and do the menial work in shops and markets that most Westerners shun. I have huge empathy for these people, most away from their families for long periods making money to send home, especially to educate their children and give them the opportunities they didn’t have. I hope that they are treated better than in Arab countries. Many arrive on student visas (tourist visas would be impossible).
There are also many blacks and it appears that they add little to the fabric of society. Many do what is the common commerce in Africa – selling trinkets on the street that nobody wants – or hanging out. I don’t see many Arabs (Syrians and Libyans) contrary to what you would think from all the refugees in Italy.
There are lots of beggars about, all white. For the first time ever, I saw two moving around a McDonalds eating unfinished food.
8. Pizza. Italians eat pizza with a knife and fork. That is because the crust is not firm, the sauce almost runny, and all the ingredients slide off if picked up. The sauce is not as spiced as I would like. It is cheap but not at all what I expected and I am somewhat disappointed.