Rome is famous for its cute little paved streets and grand cathedrals, letting all of its tourists dive into the secrets of its ancient history and revealing its old legends. Thousands of tourists visit Rome every year (in 2018, 7.4 million people were in just the Colosseum alone). But there are 2 sides of this coin. The capital of Italy has a dark side that both local people and numerous tourists have to deal with every day.
Bright Side was curious if the life in the Eternal City really was so simple. And you know what? It is not.
1. Local tricksters know a bunch of ways to take your money legally.
At any moment when you are in Rome, a smiling person dressed as a gladiator can come up to you and offer to take a photo with you. Only at the end of the photo shoot, you will find out the price of this service and you will most likely be very surprised.
And also, on almost any corner, you might find welcoming strangers who offer to tell you about the local sights and can help you buy a ticket at a train station. But after the service, this “volunteer” loses the smile instantly and starts to ask you for money.
2. Restaurants have a clear schedule but supermarkets close unusually early.
Don’t even try to eat at a restaurant at 4-5 pm, ignoring the local food schedule. At this time, only the tourist places are open and traditional Roman restaurants are often closed. The best time to have lunch is from 12 to 3 pm and dinner — after 7 pm.
The same is true for supermarkets: plan to do all of your shopping before 8 pm, after that, the stores are closed until the next morning.
3. There are huge crowds of tourists near famous sights.
According to experienced travelers, mass tourism in Rome is a little like a line to the toilet: some people go to see the Colosseum and others go to the Vatican. As a result, both places are extremely overcrowded. But the museums that have less popular, but still really unique exhibits are empty. Some of them are the Capitoline Museums, the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, and Palazzo Altemps.
4. Historic ruins are often used as places to take a “bio break.”
A lot of people are not intimidated by the fact that there’s so much history around the city. This is why it’s easy to come across a place in Rome where people have decided to take a “bio break.” Like for example, right in the middle of ancient ruins. So, be careful if you decide to explore some beautiful historical site.
5. The streets are full of beggars who are not actually poor and annoying street merchants.
There are beggars who try to ask you for money around almost every corner in Rome. Some of them pretend to be tourists who’ve been robbed and ask for a few euro to buy transportation to get to a hotel, and some of them look like real beggars.
Often, tourists who visit Rome complain about the people who too much selling in the street: they sometimes even put their goods on the ground, right in the middle of the road.
6. Drivers park any way they want.
Romans don’t really care about parking rules. They will park a car an inch from the wall or from someone else’s car without even thinking twice about it. This is why many cars here are really scratched up.
And also, the local drivers don’t really care about pedestrians trying to squeeze between the parked cars. So, don’t be surprised when you see a beautiful street packed with cars.
7. The condition of public toilets is not how we would like for it to be.
The public toilets in many Roman hotels, museums, and even expensive restaurants look so bad that you might not want to go back there. There could be no toilet paper, the seat may be broken, and even the most experienced tourists might run into trouble looking for the flush button. The dirty walls and strange wet stains on the floor are normal things for Roman toilets.
8. Ancient walls are painted with low-quality graffiti.
Romans can get a huge fine for this kind of art, but they seem to not care at all. Any teenager can get a can of spray paint and leave a drawing or write some words on the wall. Of course, the quality of this amateur art is pretty low and it definitely makes the historic look of the Italian city appear way worse.
9. The subway is dirty and the escalators are always broken.
Roman people often complain about the dirt on the subway, the ticket windows that don’t work, and the broken escalators. The escalators are something that a lot of people have gotten used to. But in order to even get on to the subway, both Romans and tourists often have to go past hundreds of street merchants.
10. The weather has a lot of unpleasant surprises for you.
The so-called winter (when the temperature is below 32°F) is not a thing for Rome. In winter, the temperature is usually anywhere between 41°F and 50°F.
But because of the high humidity, even when it’s just a couple of degrees below 32°F, it feels way colder than in Siberia. There is almost always a strong wind (the normal speed is 6 mph). And snow doesn’t happen in Rome very often (basically almost never). On February 26, 2018, Rome woke up under a white blanket — the palm trees, the orange trees, the ancient ruins, the almond trees, and the magnolias were under a lot of snow. Because of this, they even canceled classes in city schools.
11. Ticket vending machines are not always convenient to use.
This photo shows the typical fight between a tourist and the monitor of the street ticket vending machine. In order to buy a ticket for public transportation, you almost have to press your nose against the screen because it’s hard to see anything on it otherwise.
12. It’s hard to buy certain fruits and vegetables when they’re not in season.
If you decide to visit a local street market, choose the vegetables and fruit by yourself. Otherwise, there is a risk that you’ll be convinced to buy old or spoiled goods. And also, Romans respect the seasons very much. Of course, you can find fresh peas or spinach, even when they’re not in season, but the sellers will be really amazed if you do this.
13. There are pickpockets everywhere.
The central streets of Rome are relatively safe, but walking alone in remote districts is not such a good idea for lone travelers.
Honestly speaking, it’s not advised to relax too much downtown: almost everywhere, there are entire gangs of pickpockets whose focus are tourists. They can steal money from you when you are on a tour, on the subway, or even on a busy street. Pickpockets use a lot of distraction tricks: while one of them is trying to convince you to buy some flowers or jewelry, the other one is stealing your wallet.
14. Utility companies are not very eager to pick up the trash.
The eternal city suffers from its trash. There are huge piles of trash in the suburbs and even in some central districts. The trash bins are overfilled and the local activists have been talking about this problem for years now.
15. Public transportation is often overcrowded.
Roman buses are often overcrowded. The thing is, public transportation here doesn’t work according to a schedule. This may happen because the drivers are careless or due to some other more compelling reasons. Also, the roads are often blocked buy tourist buses and locals who don’t care about parking rules.
But let’s admit this: If you are able to ignore these negatives, Rome is still an amazing city!
For every single negative thing about Rome, there are a lot of positives that cancel out the negative stuff.
A walk in Rome is any traveler’s dream. A lot of people want to touch the stones of the ancient Forum, visit the famous Vatican, see Michelangelo’s wall murals, or sit at a table in a street cafe where you can eat a true Italian pizza.
People fall in love with Rome once and for all and continue coming back there. A lot of travelers honestly think that all these negatives only make the city feel more individual. How can you notice the annoying sellers and the buses that are always late when all this real history is around you.
Have you ever visited Rome? What impression did it make on you?
Preview photo credit benvenutolimos