down and out on the streets of Rome

Rome Travel Blog

 › entry 64 of 66 › view all entries

The next couple of days were spent wandering around Rome...

The basic rule of thumb is to ask your Embassy for help when in a bad jam. This is always a last sort of move for me but off I went... 

Japanese Embassies usually resemble miniature fortresses and the one in Rome was no exception. Before letting me in I was made to speak to a staff member on the intercom then go through this shatterproof Plexiglas cubicle, the outer door closed then after a scan the inner one opened. ‘This is a bit over-the-top’ I thought as the Italian guards fumbled through my rucksack. It seems the Japanese government is paranoid they always have the bunker type fortifications and for good reason, Japan is a soft target. She has plenty of money to extort, no retaliatory capacity (there is no such thing as rescue missions), and a weak foreign policy. In spite of this Japan still dogmatically supports an aggressively out-of-hand nation (you know who) which makes her a defenseless target.

I was making these profound observations while waiting for my obliging embassy staffer to talk some sense into Myair. “Uhh..I don’t know what to do…” he was scratching his head, “they say the only thing they’ll do is let you buy another ticket.” “That’s unacceptable.” He looked like he was going to collapse under a migraine. There was nothing doing there so I left to wander more...

On the Metro bands of rowdy north African youths tumbled around over the passengers swearing loudly “Bastardo…Bastardo!!!” On the line toward Laurentina the cars were filthy old and scarred with graffiti the scenery outside was not the beautiful Rome of postcards. The seats were filled with Romanian immigrants, Pakistani peddlars, Filipino factory workers, and shabby Italians.

The doors opened and in swaggered a gypsy family. The man pumped a wheezing accordion while the mother and daughter beggared euros off the passengers.

The streets of Rome are narrow and vary from picturesque cobblestone lanes with stone-carved fountain pieces, fresh water pours constantly out, to rubbish littered alleys with urine stains on the walls.


Walking around Termini I noticed a pair of street kids following me. My hearing is sharp and I had the intuition they were talking about me. Just then from the corner of my eye I saw a shadow right behind me. In an instant I knew what was going on. I spun around to see a boy of 12 with his hand out to open my rucksack. As soon as he saw me spun around he quickly looked down while jumping back. This is a common distraction trick (to make you look down as well) so as to escape a knock. I looked to make sure nothing fell out of my bag and when I was up again the brat was out of reach. I pulled my pack to the front of my body and kept walking. “Scousa.. Scousa..” the girl came brazenly over she looker 14. I made it obvious I didn’t understand their trash talk. They started pointing at my bag and making it clear they wanted it. I didn’t get aggressive on the street (again I wasn’t used to Latin style) but I made it clear I wasn’t about to give it to them. They thought it was great sport and kept up their swearing and posturing while keeping a healthy distance. I wasn’t too worried as it was only two punks and I could crack their thieving skulls if needed.


I stopped to ask a tall black woman for directions “Do’ve Termini?” She pointed to a large Basillica and started rumbling out directions in a low voice. It was a bit startling then I noticed the adams apple ‘it’s a MAN!’

As the shadows deepened I trudged back to the hostel thinking. I thought about how illusions can shatter and reality can rear it’s ugly head. I found the Eternal City was still a mixture of mud and gems. After all it’s only a city, made with hands and peopled by humans. In the cycle of civilization art and beauty can rise only with its nemesis destruction and decay come soon on its heels.        
Aopaq says:
I really like your final commentary on the Eternal City....I think it is an apt description for every city in thw world!
Posted on: Feb 18, 2008
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photo by: vulindlela