7 Reasons Rome Clearly Had It In For Me
As an Englishman, when I travel abroad I like to cause as little trouble as possible. Sadly, when I went to Rome, trouble looked for me.
1. Roads. Now, call me a traditionalist, but I like two things from my roads. One: they should be fit for vehicles to manoeuvre up and down, and two: there should be occasional sets of traffic lights where those who have decided to travel upon foot can cross the road safely. While Rome provides both roads and traffic lights, it seems as if someone forgot to tell the drivers to stop when the little green man appears. As a result my holiday was nearly abruptly ended by six cars, two buses, fourteen mopeds and one skater.
2. Maps. I know it sounds like a cliche, but when one sees a free map, they should pick it up. I did just that. And for most of the first day I was able to understand it – we were still in Rome at least. That was until I started walking back to the hotel. The designers, in their Italian wisdom, had decided to mark the main tourist attractions on the map using small, 3D illustrations. And, to be fair to them, they did resemble the real-life draws. Unfortunately, they rarely appeared on the map facing the right direction. Consequently, I spent much of the walk home looking for the steps leading to the Campidoglio on the wrong road. To cut a long story short, we ended up back where we had started an hour earlier and I never held possession of the map again.
3. Wine. It is a well known fact in 7 Reasons circles that I am something of an amateur tea connoisseur. Sadly this is the only liquid based-substance that I have such a relationship with. Wine, for example, is something of an unknown quantity to me. There are three things I know about it. One, it comes in white; two, it comes in red; and, three, it should not be thrown over your girlfriend. Sadly, while Rome offered both white and red varieties, it also offered the opportunity for me to knock a glass over. Which I promptly accepted.
4. Gladiators. They’re an amorous lot. Even the fake ones hanging around the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon. Actually, let’s just call it Rome. They’re everywhere. And they took far too much of a liking to my girlfriend. If they weren’t trying to kiss her they were calling her Princess or offering to slay me. Yes, I know, it’s enough to make one quite nauseous. I mean, it was the type of behaviour I’d expect from the French or Piers Morgan.
5. String Sellers. Standing at the top of the Spanish Steps I was accustomed by two gentlemen, who – without invitation – decided to wrap string around my wrist. I was rather taken with the colours so allowed them to continue. ‘How nice,’ I thought, ‘no one has ever tied my wrists up in England before.’. As the string wound it’s way around my wrist to form a bracelet, I was told to make three wishes. ‘How nice,’ I thought, ‘this chap is certainly more friendly than that genie in a bottle.’. When he had finished, the other nice man decided to open his wallet to show me all the lovely notes inside. Initially I thought I got to choose which denomination of Euro I’d like, but after asking for €20 he became a bit grumpy. For a minute I thought he was asking me for money. Then I realised he actually was. At which point we became embroiled in a bitter stand off. They both wanted money for a bit of string, I wanted the string but not at a price. Sadly this story comes to a hugely anti-climatic end as, instead of letting me enjoy a bit of a fracas with Mussolini and Pinocchio, my girlfriend decided to gallop over and drag me away. At which point Pinocchio got all precious, whipped out his toe-nail clippers and cut the string. In doing so all my wishes were cast aside. Which just goes to show, in Rome you have to pay at least €5 for a yacht, a unlimited supply of tea-bags and a speaking dolphin.
6. Sarah. If I were a woman, and I can’t in all honesty say I have ever considered it as a career option, I suspect Sarah would be a name I would strongly consider. Or at least it would have been had I not been called it dozens upon dozens of times in Rome. On the first night, I assumed I had just done something effeminate with my hair, but, having altered my style every night thereafter, the Sarah-tag just wouldn’t leave. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Then I discovered they were actually saying, ‘Sera’. It means, ‘Evening’. I felt silly.
7. Hotel. I chose our hotel, so, upon arrival, I was somewhat relieved to find that I had indeed booked us into somewhere quite nice. There were no tea and coffee facilities, but on the plus side we did get slippers. The hotel carried on being pleasant until our final night when we suddenly noticed dozens of blue flashing lights creeping through the shutters in our room. Upon moving to the window, we opened the shutters to see the street lined with Police. And looking to our left we saw the start of a protest rally. Half an hour later the rally was holding a noisy, sit-down protest. In the road. Right outside our hotel. Like I say though, we did have slippers.