Tag Archives: american tourists

Top Five Things To Do In Rome

24 Apr

Visitors to Rome often ask me what my top five things to do in the Eternal City are. Honestly, there are so many things to do and see that I can never choose. However, what I can certainly give them are things they definitely, absolutely must NOT do.

1. Don’t Stand In The Way

gelato rome italy issues what not to do

Great place to have a gelato

Rome may no longer be the capital of the world (to quote the Lonely Planet), but it is still one of the most historically packed cities….so get out-of-the-way, as some of us are not here to lick gelato’s in the middle of the pavement or stare gormlessly at city maps in the middle of busy piazzas with-mouths-agape. Seriously, move it Gianni. We know, because you’re on holiday you think the whole city cares about you and you are the only tourist that exists in Rome – well, you aren’t and no one does (sorry to kill your Disney tale with a little dose of reality). So move it e sbrigati! Via! *italian arm gesture*

PS. And don’t ask for directions. After helping 20 morons (they must be, because the maps are like children’s books) it becomes a game and I know a few people who purposely send tourists in the wrong direction. Or in a nice roman loop. Or pretend not to speak English and use dramatic arm gestures and a dodgy italian accent.

2. Don’t Be That Sore Thumb (With A ‘Fanny Pack’)

Tourists rome map Santa Maria Maggiore

Oh no…here they come!

Firstly, don’t take those terrible hop-on/hop-off buses. Rome’s ancient buildings are crumbling before our very eyes- especially in such a laid back country that thinks the word PRESERVE is either something sexual or something you do to salami (maybe both in some cases!). Plus, you add to the already congested roads. Rome is the best city in the world for walking; there’s always something to see within a small proximity. Take advantage. 

Secondly, we have an issue with pick pockets. So don’t wear your little tour shirts or caps or ‘knapsacks’ with pride (and say words like ‘awesome’ and ‘oh my god’ loudly if you’re american), because that sh*t is a beacon of hope for these people. Honestly.

Thirdly, the public transport is a mess in this city. It’s not an amusement toy for you to play on and try out for a laugh. Some of us have places to go and people to see…and you’re not funny #justsayin’ PS. If we have our headphones in (like most of the drivers do) *whispers* that’s a sign for you not to disturb us. 

3.Don’t Buy Roses/Umbrellas/Sh*t From The Annoying Street Sellers

harrassment rome italy vendors indian man

You know why?? Because they become more annoying. And suddenly, it’s not just roses anymore. Oh no! It’s cuddly, mechanical toys and squishy pigs and those helicopter, flyy things with bright, flashy lights that hit you on the head randomly in Piazza Navona.

I won’t even mention the fact that most of them are illegal immigrants, oh, and the ‘possible’ ties to the Mafia. Oh, did you think the Mafia only dealt in hard cash, drugs and prostitution… oh no my dear reader, they do squishy pigs too!

4. Avoid Restaurants With Food Signs 

Indian Italian restaurant Rome

Italian? No…Indian? No…Pizzeria? 

I say it all the time…and I’ll say it again. If the restaurant has to show you what it’s going to serve you, it’s best to walk away while you still can (before the owner’s got you by the arm and orders that bottle of ‘house wine’). The stuff they serve you won’t classify as food, but the house wine will classify as nuclear weapon fuel (if you need that). 

But….don’t ask me where you should go. I’m not going to tell you about my local trattoria because you’ll tell someone else and, before I know it, it’ll be on tripadvisor and then they’ll put the prices up due to the influx of American fatcats….and then I’ll have to sit next to them and they’ll want to tell me all about their ‘eye-talian experience, man, cos I love this city’… why do Americans always do that? Every meal is like a meet-and-greet!

Honestly, I had to sit next to this awful tourist trash couple the other night (yes, I’ve coined a name for them. Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful American friends here but they tend to be from cool places like New York or L.A and don’t talk about their ‘firearms’). Now I didn’t know this man from Adam. He sputtered at me (from across the restaurant), ‘Haw old r yeew?’…’eeeerrmm, over the age of 25′ was my response (cheeky f***er) …’ Well, then you’re too old for Berlusconi, bwahahahahaha!’….*blank stare* ‘Alllllll-righty then’. 

Pizzeria Rome Italy authentic

5. Keep Your Absurdities To Yourself (You Are Not A Tour Guide)

Honestly, the amount of nonsensical historical ‘facts’ I have heard  coming out tourists’ mouths, and this is only from the English speakers, would be enough to power Berlusconi’s (lower) wig dryer. 

An (expat?) american to a tour group: ‘The Piazza di Spagna is called the Piazza di Spagna because so many Spanish people live near the Spanish steps’ #saywhat?

Overheard in a bar: ‘Oh, are you going to the Lazio football game tomorrow? Yes, which stadium are they playing in?..At the Colosseum.’ *double take* #whatthecazzo

A ‘genius’ (or fantasist): ‘Piazza Venezia was built by Berlusconi’ #duringthebungabungaera

Shocked tourist on bus: ‘I spoke English to him and he didn’t understand a word!!’ #cantbeattheoldcolonialists

I could go on…. but I wouldn’t want to annoy you, now would I?

Thank you for visiting Rome…please come back soon *through gritted teeth*

Capri: The Island of Lemon Granita (& Taking Liberties)

7 Jul

Anacapri

When I first told R. the title of this post, he was not impressed. ‘ I take you to one of the most beautiful islands in the world and all you can think about is the lemon granita’. He had a point.

But then, this is not a post aimed to tell you how out-of-this-world Capri is. It’s a place you have to experience for yourself.

Yes, it is beautiful (though, I thought Anacapri centre was a little bit more charming) and, yes, it is breathtaking, but it is also very packed with tourists, just like you and me, which of course makes everything very, very expensive.

 The type of expensive that’s served with a smile. A nice white, glinty, I-know-I’m-taking-the-piss kind of smile (and often from a man your mum would call ‘slimy’)

Capri is not somewhere you go on a budget, and if you do, it will lose its charm pretty quickly. Along with its buddies- Cannes, St Tropez, Monte- Carlo…

And I learned from my visit that if you go to Capri it is a good idea to arm yourself with an italian. If you have one nearby (in the hall cupboard, in storage, wherever) make sure you to take them with you.

In fact, I’ve realised in the short period that I have lived in Italy, this could apply to the whole country.

Seriously, not a day goes by that I do not thank my lucky stars that I have R. to do all the talking while I stand there trying not to look ‘so British’.

And once again he came in handy, this time in Capri.

By day one, I was addicted to granita al limone. I had to have them all the time, which involves quite a bit of queueing at one of the cute little kiosks (like the one below) to ask for a cup of the lovely iced lemony stuff.

(Yes, unlike the rest of Italy, maybe because everyone is a tourist, they do queue in Capri) 

Anacapri

There was quite a line on this particular occasion and I sussed out that about 80% were Americans, the rest, British or other.

 Eventually, the american couple in front of us reached the counter, they ordered 2 cups of granita and the man told them ‘that will be  11.00 euro’.

And I went, WHAT!?!  Keep in mind these were 330ml cups of lemon ice.

I decided to dispatch R. to the front to ask (in italian) how much a cup costs. He asked and told me the man said 3 euros per cup.

“Right, then why is everyone in front of me paying 2.50 euros more.”

He asked the man, who in turn said that there were two prices.When R. probed as to why, he replied there were two sizes. 

“Oh well, I will go for the 3 euro one,” I told the italian ‘gentleman’ and he handed me my granita (with that smile). 

I soon discovered, on comparison, that there were no ‘two sizes’. Mine was exactly same the as the americans and the British couple behind me, who didn’t flinch at the 5.50 euro price tag after seeing my little commotion. 

However, it did appear to be two prices – one for the tourists and one for the italians( yes, even if you’re from the North).

Maybe this is the norm, considering an American on a train in Tuscany a week earlier had told me he had paid 16 euros for 2 ice-creams in central Florence. 

But hey, this is Capri…and you only live once, right?

So, in my opinion, if you are going to do it, REALLY do it. I mean, go all out – with an event/anniversary/mid-life crisis to blame it on.

But, however you decide to do it, be sure to try the lemon granita.