On leaving Rome – A fantastic week in Southern Italy

So, I’ve come to the end of my second visit to Rome and I leave tomorrow for Budapest. Rome was the second time I travelled alone — my first trip being Berlin, a city I’ll return to in less than four days — and even then it was incredibly simple to meet new people then, even if I was a rookie. This time around it’s been even easier, mainly due to experience, but getting to know people has again proved to be an absolute doddle. Whether it’s chatting to a local at the Brewdog near the Colosseum, or at an organised event, people are always open to good conversation. Of course, Berlin wasn’t all doom and gloom, but I think Southern Italians are inherently more willing to talk to tourists than anybody else.

I spent four nights here, which wouldn’t be enough for a first-timer, but as I’d already seen the main sights my first time around I had the pleasure of doing my own thing. This allowed me to explore the outer regions of the city away from — dare I say — the facade of the bustling centre. And while I understand the centre would get more investment than the suburbs, it’s easy to see that Rome isn’t the most well-off city in Italy. Sadly on the way to the hotel I was greeted with overflowing dustbins, pot-holed roads, a stream of dog-mess and a lack of general upkeep. There were many beggars as well, something I was used to in the city centre, but not necessarily on the outskirts. The begging on the outskirts seems all the more real. Don’t let this put you off visiting the city, but be warned if you’re going to stay in the suburbs, expect a different side of Rome.

I feel this is in part to the incompetence of the Italian government. The country is in a shambles at the moment — just ask any local, from the north or south. It’s probably the only thing the two regions really agree upon. What is rife in Italy, in the past and probably now, is fiscal irresponsibility, baffling bureaucracy, lacklustre employment rates, high taxes, corruption, shocking public transport and inept law enforcement; but let this not lead you to the assumption that the government or its services reflect the majority of its people; every Italian person I’ve ever met is contrary to this, with some eventually becoming very good friends of mine.

I don’t want this article to turn into some rant about Italian politics, but being aware of the issues Italy currently faces has put a certain filter on my experience. Of course, this was pushed to the back of my mind and I carried on like a good tourist eating gelato and scoffing down pizza. In the end, I had a very good time. I met another Iranian — the second in my life — and we had a good mutual laugh about her whole country being regarded as terrorists. I met an actor called Allesandro, who wasn’t very good at acting sober. I spoke bad broken Italian with a group of middle-aged women, who found my vocabulary of really bad insults hilarious. And of course, I tried to take as many photos as I could. Overall, a good trip.

I’m confident I’ll return to Rome. The food is incredble and the sights are divine. Would I live here? Nope. I wouldn’t live in Italy at all. But Italy always makes a good stepping stone to your next destination — you won’t leave feeling hungry that’s for sure.


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