The many faces of Rome
Rome Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
We landed in Fiumicino airport at about five o'clock in the evening, and as we exited the building we were surrounded by really loud, aggressive cab drivers that tried convicing us to catch a ride to our hotel in Rome with them. "How much is it?", we asked. "Well, that will run you about seventy euros". Seventy Euros?!! Considering the terrible exchange rate at the time of our trip ($1.57 to 1 euro), this expensive taxi ride was ridiculously out of the question, not to mention a complete rip-off. We told the cab driver we were not interested, but he kept following us and trying to convince us that to get to downtown Rome any other way would take a long time and cost about the same amount. We ignored him and just kept walking, even though we were both a little concerned about our transportation situation. After wandering around aimlessly at the airport for about an hour, we wandered into a bookstore. "Parla inglese?", I asked the attractive thirty-something year old man that was standing behind the cashier. He nodded, and I asked him if there was a train to downtown Rome. He was very helpful, and showed us how to get to the train. When we arrived to the train station we laughed- the train was about 10 euros and took about 20 minutes to take us to the Termini Centrale, which was the area our hotel was located in. This was definite confirmation that the cab drivers were trying to rip us off!!!
Italy has been one of the world's biggest touristic hubs for centuries. With its impressive architecture and buildings composed of ancient Roman and medieval layers, cobblestoned streets, picturesque piazzas, breath-taking artistic masterpieces and a fascinating history, Rome is the ultimate travel destination for history buffs, artists, fashionistas, film geeks, the young, the old and everyone in between. The streets of the "Eternal City" have seen the awe-struck faces of foreigners for hundreds, even thousands of years. There is a sense that the Italian has somewhat of a love-hate relationship with tourism; a sort of de-sensitized attitude towards it since it seems like a significant percentage of the populations consists of transients. How many people truly live in Rome? How many of the random people walking down the street are true Romans? The amount of tourists in Rome is so overwhelming that sometimes I truly felt that I was missing out on experiencing true Italian culture because I was constantly surrounded by tourists, and a lot of the places I ended up at when looking for a place to eat or enjoy a glass of wine turned out to be artfully constructed tourist traps. After the first few days of being charged 8 euros for pizza crust with a thin layer of butter on it because the waiter had tricked us into buying it by offering it as "authentic Italian bread" (before we saw it, of course) or hanging out at bars where all of the music was in English and all of the people there spoke practically every language imagineable except Italian, I grew increasingly desperate to see what life in true, modern Rome was like. What was it like to live in Rome? Go to school? Go to the gas station? My mind was quickly filling up with all of these questions, about every aspect of the mundane. That's when I decided to get on the metro and stay on until there were no tourists left on the train- It was only then that I would consider getting off. Finally, I got off the train at the Colli Albani station. That is a story I will tell you later on, though. First, I will start off with an introduction to this ancient city and the many wonders that it holds.