Signs, Signals & Superstitions, Rome

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  • hudreds of empty bottles and other staff at Tevere
    hudreds of empty bottles and other staff...
    by Turska
  • Il Facchino, Via del Corso, Roma, May 2007
    Il Facchino, Via del Corso, Roma, May...
    by von.otter
  • Il Babbuino, Via del Babbuino, Roma, May 2007
    Il Babbuino, Via del Babbuino, Roma, May...
    by von.otter
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    Virgin Mary, On the Streets of Rome, Part II

    by von.otter Written Oct 28, 2012

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    Virgin Mary, On the Streets of Rome, May 2007
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    More of images of the Virgin Mary that can be seen on almost every street in the Eternal City.

    I am always astonished at the variety of styles and conditions of these works of art.

    Photo #5, shows a corner devotional plaque, from 1860, depicting Pentecost. The Virgin is at the center and she is flanked by the 12 Apostles, as the dove of the Holy Spirit hovers above the group.

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    Italians Stop Smoking - don't hold your breath!

    by icunme Updated Apr 22, 2011

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    Cigarette sales in Italy fell by around 50 million packets in 2007 compared to the previous year, a report by independent thinktank Ref said Friday, February 8, 2008.
    Sales in Italy have fallen since the government enacted a law banning smoking from all enclosed public spaces in 2005. In that year alone cigarette consumption dropped by more
    than 6%.
    One of the reasons smokers may be turning away from cigarettes is the rising cost of tobacco. The price of a pack of 20 cigarettes has gone up by 1.20 euros in the last five years - an increase of around 40%.
    Generally, people refrain from smoking inside restaurants; however, it is not uncommon to be seated next to people smoking at the outdoor cafes.

    Recession and anti-smoking initiatives lead to decline in volume sales
    The tobacco market saw a decline in volume sales in 2009. Cigarettes, the largest category, recorded a poor performance in volume terms, reflecting a decrease in consumer household expenditure due to the recent financial economic crisis as well as the success of government anti-smoking initiatives. On the other hand, cigars and smoking tobacco continued to post healthy volume growth in 2009. However, compared to cigarettes, these categories continue to play a marginal role in the tobacco market as a whole and their growth was not enough to compensate for the decline in cigarettes.

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    Whoooo - hooooo SCARAMANZIA

    by icunme Updated Apr 22, 2011

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    She lives at the Vatican Museum - this is HER benc
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    Hoooo, Hoooo - scaramanzia

    SCARAMANZIA - a word without an exact English translation, veiled in mystery - the really B I G Whooo, whooooooo - this is serious stuff here so I need all the help I can get.
    There are no lines of demarkation - superstition and religious legend are entertwined - religion and revelry co-exist side by side.

    SO - PLEASSSSE - SEND ME YOUR SCARAMANZI - I REALLY NEED THIS INFO & I PROMISE TO ADD IT TO THIS LIST FOR ALL VT'RS COMING TO ITALY! Please indicate if your SCARAMANZI is indigenous to a specific region.

    Common SCARAMANZI:

    1. I threw my baseball cap toward the bed and my Italian friend made a flying leap to grab it in mid-air before it hit the bed!

    2. He missed the catch - grabbed his balls, shook them.... (I can no longer tell a scaramanzia remedy from a guy who is simply a pervert!)

    3. He began frantically looking all around for something - he was looking for something metal to touch against wood.

    Above 2 and 3 rituals would negate the bad luck scaramanzia of number 1.

    4. You DO NOT pass the salt from hand to hand - you put it down on the table in front of the person who asked for it.

    5. NO 13 guests for dinner - never - ever - period. And, if you are the 13th guest - leave.

    6. Black cat - even in the U.S. this was known - but here - very serious Wooo, wooooo. This friend would stop the car - turn around and go another way before crossing a black cat's path.

    7. NO romantic candle in the bedroom - they put candles there when someone dies.

    Now - I am here from the last 35 years in CA - I fear earthquakes, fires, mudslides, and Beverly Hills meter maids. But this SCARAMANZIA thing is getting to me - slowly but surely.............

    My thought was - why don't we all just go for an exorcism once a year - get rid of all the evil-eye, curses, bad luck scaramanzia - just like I have an annual pap test and mammogram?

    OK - not bad luck to show a photo - so here are 2 views of the black cat who lives at the Vatican Museum - those are tourists petting her - NOT Italians!

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    People with disabilities in Rome

    by mccalpin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Please see http://www.romaccessibile.it/en/index.htm for information on movemento within Rome for the disabled.

    Notice on the menu on the right-hand side "Links to other sites" which will provide much more information than this site does.

    Also, the main train station in Rome maintains a shuttle for disabled people and the elderly. The station's website says

    "Free transfer there and back from Rome railway sations and airports to the hotels.

    The service is reserved to disabled and elderly people.

    Booking everyday from Hotel Reservation desk or calling the call center at 06.69.91.000"

    See http://www.romatermini.it/pagine.cfm?cont=m_3&lang=en and look for "Courtesy Shuttle".

    Bill

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    The Italian word grafitti

    by joiwatani Written May 17, 2009

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    One thing that I noticed in Rome are the grafittis. It's like everywhere I go, there are grafitti's on the walls, walk ways, streets, and even grafittis on cars.

    It really does make the place look dirty. Although it is considered vandalism, and it is punishable by law, some Romans still do the grafittis especially on poor neighborhoods.

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Stony Conversations: Rome’s Talking Statues

    by von.otter Updated Mar 11, 2009

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    Pasquino, Piazza di Pasquino, Roma, May 2007
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    “Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini (“What barbarians did not do, the Barberini did.”)
    — One of the more well-known pasquinades

    This pasquinade was leveled against Pope Urban VIII, a member of the Barberini family, who, in 1633, allowed Gianlorenzo Bernini to remove the bronze from the Pantheon to cast the baldaquino that now stands over the main altar in St. Peter’s.

    Toward the beginning of the 15th century, once they assumed control over Rome’s government, the popes took on two roles: spiritual and civil leader. As king, the pope opened himself to criticism; Romans expressed their dissatisfaction with the pontiff, other officials and with government policy through ridiculing verses.

    In 1501 Oliviero Cardinal Carafa placed an ancient torso of a statue in a small square near Piazza Navona. Annually on the 25th of April His Eminence presided over a poetry competition; the poems for consideration were placed on the torso. Sometimes poems were put up at other times of the year. Named for a nearby barber, the statue was given the name Pasquino, and he became the first Talking Statue of Rome. Even today messages are posted here commenting on local and world events. The square, Piazza di Pasquino, is named for him; and a pasquinata (pasquinade) is the word used for a short satire displayed in a public place.

    The authorities considered tossing Pasquino into the River Tiber. They thought better of it, fearing public ridicule for punishing a statue! Once the practice of posting pasquinades on Pasquino became popular the statue and the square were put under close surveillance. Resourceful Romans turned to other statues to express their point of view.

    One of these was Marforio (see photo #3), who reclines in a fountain in the courtyard of Palazzo Nuovo di Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill. He and Pasquino would have conversations about Rome’s leaders. This very large marble sculpture represents a river god or Neptune, god of the sea. Marforio got his name from where he was discovered, in the Forum of Mars.

    Il Facchino (see photo #4), the Porter, is the only Talking Statue that is not ancient. It ought to be called L’Acquaiolo, the Water Seller, because it is a Renaissance water seller with his little water cask. This trade declined toward the end of the 1500s when Pope Sixtus V reactivated Ancient Rome’s aqueducts. Located in Via del Corso near Palazzo Decarolis, Il Facchino may be the only Talking Statue based a real person, Abbondio Rizio, who sold water from casks as Il Facchino does. It’s said that Michelangelo carved the cask; and the his face is that of Martin Luther, who lodged nearby during his 1511 visit to Rome.

    Just as Pasquino gave his name to the piazza where he stands, so Il Babbuino (see photo #5) gave the street where he reclines its name. Via del Babbuino is named after an old blackened statue of Silenus, which, because of its condition, was referred to as il Babbuino, the Baboon. Il Babbuino is the least famous Talking Statue; he’s not a baboon, though. Once a figure of the wine-drinker Silenus, (a Greek woodland deity, similar to a satyr), Pope Pius V used him, in the 16th century, to decorate a fountain. Located in the Strangers’ Quarter of Rome, posting pasquinades here did not carry a high degree of being caught. Foreigners, too, posted pasquinades, using Il Babbuino to ridicule other foreigners and locals alike!

    Another Talking Statue of Rome, located near S. Andrea della Valle, is that of an unidentified emperor. The statue is commonly known as l’Abate Luigi, Abbott Louis. And the fifth Talking Statue is known as Madama Lucrezia, Madam Lucretia; she stands in a corner of Palazzetto Venezia, in piazza San Marco, a small square adjoining piazza Venezia.,

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    A FEW ITALIAN PHRASES THAT MAY HELP YOU

    by DAO Updated Feb 7, 2009

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    Quale paese é questo ?
    What country am I in?


    Guardavamo la TV e ha esso improvvisamente espoloso.
    We were watching the TV when it suddenly exploded.


    Era rotto quando abbiamo ottenuto qui.
    It was broken when we got here.


    Che é la costa la più grande sul menu?
    What’s the biggest thing on the menu?


    Dove il ospedale é?
    Where is the nearest hospital?

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    Not so nice custom

    by Turska Written Oct 13, 2008

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    Traffic-sign..
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    We were little shocked how much trash people leave on the streets,throw to Tevere(Tiber),and how they can even draw a trafic-signs full of words and drawings and put stickers on it.And people throw candy-papres and empty bottles where ever.And most of the toilets are broken-and you can see,that they are broked.
    One night we notised Tevere full of empty waterbottles.It was sad to see.I hope they will stop this before it´s too late.They say allways,that in Finland people leave trash everywhere,but it´s nothing compared to this.We have noticed same thing in Spain.I hope they will learn recycling soon.

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    DRESS CODE FOR CHURCHES IN ROME

    by DAO Updated Sep 21, 2008

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    This sign is in Vatican City, but you will find the same dress code applies to churches across Rome as well. Just click on the picture for a very vivid explanation. Yep, you have to be covered up.

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  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo

    Papal post

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Aug 27, 2008

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    Speedy post
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    If you want to post your Roman postcards from the Vatican, you can't simply pop your Italian-stamped cards into the postboxes you'll see painted in the papal colours of yellow and Marian blue outside the Vatican City post office in St Peter's Square. The Vatican issues its own stamps, usually very handsome ones in fairly small runs - they can make a good souvenir - and you must use these. Similarly, you can't use stamps you buy at the Vatican City to post mail from the rest of Rome or Italy.

    The Vatican's Post Office is so efficient many Romans make the trip to the Vatican just to post their mail; postcards you send from here could even beat the usual fate of postcards and arrive home before you do.

    There are three Post Offices at the Vatican - one is on the right hand side of the Square as you face the Basilica, in the middle of the colonnade, another is on the left hand side next to the steps going up to the Basilica and the third is actually inside the Vatican City near Porta Sant' Anna. If you tell the Swiss Guard at the Chiesa Sant'Anna you want to use the Post Office, he'll point it out to you. Use the ATM outside the Post Office and you can practise your Latin - it's one of the language options you can choose!

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    Virgin Mary, On the Streets of Rome, Part I

    by von.otter Updated Jun 30, 2008

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    In the Vatican Garden, May 2007
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    “In Rome’s failures, people turned from Caesar preaching war to Christ preaching peace, from incredible brutality to unprecedented charity, from life without hope or dignity to a faith that consoled their poverty and honored their humanity.”
    — from “The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ” by Will Durant (1889-1981) American historian and author

    Throughout Rome, images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, often cradling the Christ Child, can be found on the sides of, and at the corners of buildings. Sometimes these images are painted, other times they are in sculpted form, and then there is that rare instance of a mosaic image (see photo #3). Sometimes a small, electrical votive light stands before the image, or a lamp lights it from above.

    The Byzantine-styled version beside me (see photo #1) was seen in the far reaches of Giardini Vaticani (see my VT Travelogue: “The Vatican Gardens” for more information and photos on the Vatican Gardens.)

    Each day we had the pleasure of looking from our hotel window at the Albergo del Senato (see my VT Rome hotel travel tip) across Piazza della Rotonda to see a charming fresco of Mary trampling a snake (see photo #2).

    The widespread occurrence of these images of Christ’s Mother shows how strong devotion to Her is.

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    "The Finger" in Italy

    by icunme Updated Feb 16, 2008

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    Rotate back and forth from palm to front
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    Well, anyone who lives in the U.S. has either given or been given "the finger" - a local custom particulary well-known among irate U.S. drivers - and, even more common during rush hour's road rage.
    So now, Italy has "the finger" also - and a few signs are customary. Among them and probably one of the more common and certainly more civil, is this sign (with two fingers as shown rotate back and forth) used to let you know that "its not working" - "its broken" - if used when in the area of one's head, it means the guy is "not 100% there."
    Note for drivers - If you're approaching a toll booth and you see this sign being waved out of a car window, look for the next toll booth with a green light because either this one is broken or the guy ahead of you is not paying and waiting for a person to issue a printed ticket (we're talking about a considerable amount of time if we're dealing with real people here).

    We'll be adding a couple more here on "the finger" just for fun...........

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    What Not to Wear

    by Callavetta Written Jul 22, 2007

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    Sign outside St. Peter's Basilica

    When I was a young girl, attending Catholic School, we were not allowed into the Church without our heads covered. A plaid beanie was part of our uniform so if we hadn't lost it yet we were generally covered. On days when the students were ushered into Mass there was always the Nun who was rushing to cover some child's head with a kleenex. I always thought it very odd that God would prefer me with a kleenex on my head than bareheaded in Church!

    In Rome there are likely to be guards stationed at the door to make sure that all who enter are dressed appropriately. That means, shoulders and knees covered. The line to St. Peter's may be long. Don't spoil your chance to enter by not being dressed accordingly.

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    Do the statues talk, yes if in Rome

    by croisbeauty Updated Jan 12, 2007

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    talking statues
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    There are four of five so-called talking statues in Rome, but I've find this one only. Locals use them for various motiffs today, someone to attached his thesis, the others to present their poems or novels, while some to complain about problems they faced living in the city of Rome. I was in particularly attracted by this graphities, which are aimed against Vatican and some priests who have been discovered as a pedofils. There was big scandals recently in Italy about that issue.

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    Dove fare la pipi'? (Toilets of Rome!)

    by Lacristina Updated Aug 18, 2006

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    Typical ladies room toilet in Rome

    Ah, the most important question for every traveler!

    Things are so much easier in Amsterdam (for men, anyway) where there are public outdoor urinals everywhere.

    But in Rome, the first rule of touring is: never leave a museum without using the bathrooms just before you leave!

    Some solutions:

    1. Just like the US, you can always use the bathroom at any of the McDonalds. There are a couple dozen spread around the city...train station Spanish Steps, Pantheon, etc.

    2. There are public bathrooms at the department store La Rinascente (the floor with women's clothing), on the Via del Corso (not far from the Trevi. I have a tip about it on my Rome page under shopping) and also across the street in the Galleria Alberto Sordi (used to be the Galleria Colonna) an indoor shopping mall.

    3. Every bar and restaurant is required to allow anyone to use their bathroom, not just patrons. Still, if I use their facilities, I almost always get an espresso or something. That said, I have seen some restrooms that I would rather not have seen! A few nearly required gymnastics to enter (because the buildings are so old, and toilets came only in the last century, they were often put in small, cramped spots.)

    4. Most of the 4 star or 5 star hotels will have a lobby bathroom that they will let you use (most of the three stars I know, don't have a lobby bathroom.)

    Most of these bathrooms don't have hot water and many won't have soap. TP might not always be available either, so it wouldn’t hurt to bring along some tissues and hand sanitizer.

    Feel better now?

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