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Anti American Riots!

Rome Travel Blog

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After leaving the Vatican area and listening to people talk, it was apparent we might have some issues with "peaceful" demonstrations and possibly some rioting thanks for President Bush's sudden decision to visit the Pope. 

We had wanted to go to Piazza Navone and the Pantheon, not realizing the demonstrations were taking place in that particular square.  So much for seeing Bernini's fountain it would seem!  We saw some people protesting and marching but everything seemed pretty calm.  We got in the Navone Square and there were a lot of demonstrators but it did seem semi peaceful but wall to wall people.  As we walked deeper in the Square, we realized we were headed towards the Anarchists.  Windows were broken, buildings littered with graffiti, and the damage increased, the deeper we tried to get into the Square to cross.

 

The infamous Bernini Fountain was invisible anyways due to restoration efforts so it was covered in scaffolding and wrapped.  Likely a good thing given what was happening in the square with the riots!  Many other statues had been vandalized so doubtful they would care enough to not touch this one. 

As we did start to make it through the throngs of people, things started to take a turn.  People were running, some with weapons.  There was a lot of screaming and yelling.  We tried to get out of the square and realized we were walking directly into the non-peaceful demonstrations as you could hear people throwing bottles, breaking windows, and screaming anti- American garbage.  

We just needed to cross the square to see the Pantheon and what should've been a 5 minute walk, ended up being a two hour ordeal I would prefer to never relive.

  Tons of people were rushing towards us, screaming and yelling.  We would try to cut through small alley ways and people were being robbed, struck in the head, etc by people.  We almost got through the end area of the square when we heard an explosion.  The riots were just that...riots and people were throwing grenades and I was hysterical by this point.  This is not the best time to be an American and standing in the middle of a bunch of crazy protestors. 

We turned and tried to go up a different street while I attempted to stop hyperventiliating.  I was almost knocked down a couple times while being grabbed, shoved, and tossed around like a rag doll.  I needed a drink....BADLY!  We talked to a couple of the riot police on the outskirts which was a bit more calm and they told us our safety was in jeopardy and not to go back that way.

  We ended up walking all the way around and finally we got to the Pantheon....just as it was closing time.  LOL. 

That day was something I will never forget and hope I never experience anything like that again.  Because the city was in such turmoil, we ended up going back to our room and eating dinner in the hotel restaurant.  Wish we had done that already - turned out to be the best meal we ate the whole time!  Handmade raviolis, local family wines, awesome desserts - I was in heaven and it was a better way to end what had been one of the scariest days of my life! 

Sadly, tomorrow was check out and back to reality of life in the US and this awful thing called work!

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photo by: vulindlela