Signs, Signals & Superstitions, Rome
The modest entrance of Ditta Leone Limentani (embellished in the picture above by a cipollino column of Portico di Ottavia) leads to a large basement depot where, in a maze of shelves, Romans go to find a replacement of that dish or that glass that a maladroit guest broke at their last party.
Hey - I can't believe this - Its St Patrick's Day so, of course, I want to go out and celebrate at an Irish Pub. My nephew refuses because it is "Friday the 17th" and THAT IS BAD LUCK DAY in Italy!!! Da ya balieve it???
*Note this is classified as "Religious travel"
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...........
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!
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?
T-shirts with the portrait of Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-67), an icon of the 1960s, are still well sold at peace rallies. For those who are not fully familiar with Italian matters the number 5 on some t-shirts is a reference to a TV channel owned by Mr. Berlusconi.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Generally, banks in Rome are open from Mondays to Fridays; from as early as 8:30am to 1:30pm and again from 3pm to 4pm.
There are many banks where you can withdraw cash from via their onsite or offsite ATM machines. Again, remember - it is cheaper to withdraw cash using your ATM card vs using your travelers' checks or withdrawing cash against your credit card (that is known as a "Cash Advance" and you are charged exhorbitant fees for this service).
Why is it cheaper to withdraw cash using an ATM card?
Simple. The interbank exchange rates used by the respective banks are lower (read: attractive). You'll be charged a little fee for using this service and yes, even if you hold a Barclays ATM card or any other lesser known bank ATM cards, you can still withdraw from any ATM machines here in Rome - provided it contains the following logos:
- The Exchange
If you work in a bank (any bank - in your country), you can withdraw cash without having to pay a fee.
If you're in a hurry and need to visit a big, reputable international bank, then I'll recommend my ex-company: Citibank/ Citigroup. They are located at: Via Abruzzi 2, Rome. I hope they have not changed their address!
Again, please bear in mind the "riposo" (siesta) timings.
To reiterate again, most stores are open all year round - from Mondays to Saturdays; from 9am to 1pm..... and again from 3:30pm or 4pm to 7:30pm or 8pm.
Most shops are closed on Sundays.
I am sure you know that the Vatican is its own state and has its own post office. I think a neat thing to do is mail postcards from the Vatican post office to my friends back home. The ones who are catholic seem to appreciate it and it makes a nice souvenir. As you can see the stamps are very colorful and all are printed with "Vatican City" on them.
A few weeks later, one of the girls in the previous Local Custom Tip came in to my office in Rome. She was in tears.
"What's the matter, Suzanne?" I asked (not her real name).
"I can't be myself here," she replied.
After some discussion, I figured out what she meant. As one of the three girls in the previous tips, Suzanne was open, honest, and, well, "what you see is what you get". She was totally unprepared for an urban environment full of all sorts of people, including hucksters and con men and wolves (the two-legged variety).
At home (a town in Texas), she was taught to smile at strangers, be friendly and outgoing, and, in general, exhibit the same personality in public as in private.
In Italy - as is true to a greater or lesser extent in all European cities - people have two faces: the public face that may be polite, but reserved, and the private face that is unreservedly friendly.
In Texas, when a male stranger asks a woman for the time, she is likely (if from a smaller town) to smile and answer the question. If she turns away after that and minds her own business, the man should, too. But in Italy, if the woman smiles at all(!), it's considered a come-on, even if she turns away. The man keeps pestering her, because by HIS rules, she come on to him, even though by HER rules, she was simply being polite, not asserting any interest.
This is very hard to teach people, but for many Americans, the biggest culture shock is learning that the unwritten rules of how strangers interact just aren't the same - and this leads to so much misunderstanding and mistrust...
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".
So it could be nice to live here and not so far from Vatican. It means that I can safe my soul and have easy way to paradise in the future:D
non tutti possono vantare il propio nome in una via del centro di roma...io si....ragazza fortunata:)))))))))))
The italian way of driving is world famous. The italian temperament too...
When you combine italian temperament with drivingthere is bound to be a lot of noise. Honking the horn is very normal and we suspect italians cardrivers try their horn first, because without it it is impossible to drive :-)
You honk your horn when people in front of you are not moving, even if they are stopping to give priority. And you honk in every situation you want them to know you are there... if you are approaching a road that has priority, but not a very good view, it is a custom to honk and hope for the best. We witnessned this when we were seeking shelter for heavy rain. The intersection was not very busy, but everybody who came from the road without priority honked and drove on. It didn´t go wrong once, but it was close several times....
This honking goes on day and night, and it is advisable to close the window of your hotelroom when you want to have a quiet night.