Sunday, July 7, 2013

Impressions of Rome

My impressions of Rome are mixed. Having been here about one week, living in apartments, going to stores and restaurants, and interacting with locals, I feel that it is appropriate to assess the city after the initial flirtation with all the city has to offer.
Rome- The Idea
At the risk of sounding cliched, Rome appears to be many things to many people. To the tourists, the group with which we can most directly relate at this point, Rome is an ancient city with abundant treasures and sites. It is the center of one of the most powerful, if not the most, powerful empires in history and the driving force of human history for hundreds of years. Rome is the Colosseum, the Fontana di Trevi, and the Sistine Chapel. Lest we forget the spectacular culinary reputation of the Italians!

Rome- The City
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." My father always made it a point to comment that the saying is grammatically incorrect because of its dangling participle. It is probable that the saying was not coined by a Roman, but more likely by tourists. Romans do seem to enjoy wine. I can't find allergy medicine or a hairdryer anywhere but there is absolutely no shortage of wine. However, the Romans do not seem to go within ten blocks of the Colosseum. In the area surrounding the Fontana di Trevi, I did not hear a single person speaking Italian. It seems as thought the tourist spots are isolated to specific locations or neighborhoods, and avoided.
Romans do not walk around much in the middle of the day. They don't really do anything in the middle of the day. Anyone who has forgotten to eat before 2pm will understand that there is no food to be found until 7pm except at the Kebab house or in the tourist areas. So far, every meal I have had has been "not bad", and nothing more than just that.
What I am trying to say is that Rome has two identities for two groups of people. It is either home or a destination. Unlike other European cities I have been to, there seems to be a distinct separation between the old and the new. The city has capitalized on its antiquity and, in doing so, has isolated itself from its rich history. There is Rome as a city, and Rome as an idea. We, as Global Scholars, have the unique opportunity to experience these two sides of Rome.

-M. Andrew Arrington

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