Signs, Signals & Superstitions, Rome
In Rome you're never supposed to be too busy in order to not have time for a chat here or there.
cosí fan tutte - e tutti --- everybody does it
Especially when being visibly a tourist you will find this attitude among natives in customer service. They will have all the time to chat with each other, capable of leaving you waiting for... just as long as the conversation happens to take, no matter what.
And if you should have the impertinent habit of interrupting and claiming to be served, you might even achieve it, but this will be rewarded with an arrogant "tssseh" and a demonstrative look away.
“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.,
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.
You will not be able to enter St.Peter's if your shorts are too short (preferably don't wear shorts at all - wear long pants) and your shirt does not have sleeves (i.e. your shoulders are showing). So dress appropriately when you arrive at St.Peter's. The guards are very strict about the dress code.
If you get denied entry, there are shops nearby that sells paper pants, temporary clothes, and scarves that you can buy to meet the dress code.
When Pope Benny is in Rome, he gives a public audience every Wednesday beginning at 10:30am (sometimes at 10am in summer). It takes place in the Paul VI Hall of Audiences, although sometimes St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square are used to accommodate a large attendance. Anyone is welcome, but you must first obtain a free ticket from the office of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, accessible from St. Peter's Square by the Bronze Door, where the colonnade on the right (as you face the basilica) begins. The office is open from Monday through Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Occasionally, if there's enough room, you can attend without a ticket.
At noon on Sunday, the pope speaks briefly from his study window and gives his blessing to the visitors and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
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?
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.
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.
“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.
I know everyone has said it before, but it's true - if you want to cross the road in Rome, you pretty much have to ignore the cars, and just step out. If you don't look at them, they will stop. I'd say it's best to peek out of the corner of your eye; if there's something coming at 70 miles an hour, it's probably best not to step out right in front of it! (there's usually so much traffic that there aren't many places the cars are that fast). Cars actually aren't so bad, it was the scooters that we found the most dangerous - as soon as you're out of their direct line, they'll whizz around behind you, missing you by inches.
One cannot leave Rome without tossing a coin in the Trevi fountain.
The legend says that by tossing a coin in this fountain over your shoulder you will one day return to the eternal city.
Besides one cannot miss the atmosphere of people tossing coins, taking photos, buying roses or souvenirs of the fountain from the stalls or the shops nearby... especially when the fountain is lit at night.
Italians have unique opening hours. As you make your plans you have to bear this in mind, else you may end up in disappointments for failing to visit a particular sight or for not obtaining dinner when you may want it. Most shops still close for 2-4 hours between 12 or 1 and 3 or 4. Most are open until early evening, at least 6, often 7 or later. Restaurants open for lunch from Noon to around 2:30p.m. Some open as late as 1:00, not closing until 3:30. They reopen for dinner from around 7:00p.m. to 8p.m. or 8:30p.m.. Bars and sandwich shops are open most of the day.
Most sights are open by 9:00 a.m. and closed by 19:00 hours
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.
Do you want to come back to Rome because of fate? Then chuck a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand. If you throw one coin in, you will have a speedy return to Rome, chuck in two coins and you will fall in love in Rome, and after three coins the wedding bells begin to ring.
Most shops in Italy are closed from around 12.30 to 4.30 every afternoon. They are also usually all closed on Monday mornings. Grocery shops however are open on Monday mornings, but are closed on Thursday afternoons and don't re-open until Friday morning. Apart from grocery shops on Thursdays, most other shops are open every weekday evening until about 9.pm. They often have late night shopping one night a week.