Thus far, Rome has been unbelievable. From the incredible architecture, ancient streets, monuments, and gelato, Rome has offered such amazing experiences. That being said, Rome also has a completely different culture from what I am used to in the US. Probably the difference we noticed first was public transportation. Or, the relaxed timetables for the bussing system.
|St. Peter's Basilica|
Today, our group was supposed to meet up at Vatican City prior to a group tour of the Vatican Museum. Living in different apartments, our arrivals were obviously not going to coincide perfectly. Despite leaving an hour before our meet-up time (it was suppose to take about a half hour to get there), the girls in the group had to wait for an hour before getting picked up by the bus to take the 30-minute ride up to the Vatican.
I would like to say this was a one-time issue, but it just simply was not. Arriving late to something because you sat waiting for a bus that would arrive whenever it felt like it is becoming a very real problem for those of us who rely on the buses to get around Rome. The relaxed nature of Rome’s public transportation; however, is just another aspect of Italian culture we’ll need to learn to embrace. While in America punctuality is highly encouraged, Italians do not subscribe to the same strict time restrictions. They are much more going with the flow in that respect.
This characteristic of Italian culture carries over, I believe, in some ways to their economy, and not in either a positive or negative way – just a different way. For example, the Italian government is much more involved in the economy, than in America, in that the government is more responsible for taking care of retirement funds, healthcare, and other social programs. Also, the Italian economy is more dependent on tourism than in the US. These aspects of the government and economy are more conducive, in my opinion, in a culture like Italy’s where the people run on a different schedule with different priorities.
|View of Rome from the Vatican Museum|
So, despite our original hiccups, everybody had an amazing time at the Vatican. While most of us missed the tour because of transportation, we eventually were able to go through the museum and see this incredible city!