Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roamin' Roman vs. Roamin’ America

 I know I stated in my previous posting that the next blog would concentrate on desserts. Don’t you worry, I have not forgotten. However, there are so many more pastries and deserts I have not tried yet. This process is slow because I hate getting looks at the bars and bakeries when I order more than two sweets at once. Most of these shop owners know me by my first name because I come in all the time, especially my gelato shop. I have a card where if I buy ten scoops of gelato I get the 11th one free. I’m on my second card now.

I write the posting in hopes to get some kind of response from my readers. I know you’re out there somewhere (hopefully). Anyways I have been here a little over two weeks and I’ve begun to notice the differences of Italy and the United States. Each time I find a difference or something amusing, I write it down.  Please be reminded that this is purely my opinion. Maybe you will think the same or differently, but I’d love to hear your feedback or stories.  In no way am I complaining. I find these little anecdotes comical.

·      No matter how hard I try to blend in with the Italians, I’m always easy to point out. And I’m not speaking English when an Italian calls out  “ciao bella Americana.” It is interesting that the Italians and vendors at the markets can identify Americans, however, when I see a person who looks American, I am always wrong. Embarrassing!

·      I’ve noticed that Roma is not a place for children. I have yet to see school children running around. Maybe the Italians keep them locked up and off the streets. If I was a parent, I’m sure I would too in order to keep them away from the crazy drivers. However, when I do see Italian children… mostly young teenagers they are smoking cigarettes. Again, a different culture than ours. Where are their parents!

·      Speaking of parents. I have noticed it is not uncommon for children to ride on the backs of scooters or in the front seats of their cars! They have little bones… be careful please.

·       Don’t be alarmed, it is completely normal to see a female dressed to the finest with stiletto shoes and driving her scooter.

·       I must have been living under a rock because I’ve become so sheltered. I was completely caught off guard when I met an Asian at the bar (a bar as in a coffee bar, not a bar where you buy drinks) and she spoke Italian as her native language. Even the Ethiopian man who is hustling the streets is speaking Italian.

·      When you are in Roma, do not feel bad for some of the homeless people. They make money off our emotions. It wasn’t until this past weekend when I saw the same lady who I gave money to counting her daily earnings, and let me tell you she was rolling out 50’s and 20’s. She better buy me dinner next time, I’m the starving student!

·      No matter what anyone says, the Italians do it better when it comes to the kitchen, especially desserts. No further explanation needed.

·      For those who have been to Roma, have you ever seen a person in the morning with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cell phone in the other walking to work? Well that’s because it DOESN’T EXIST! Romans enjoy their morning and don’t rush. They savor their coffee in the morning and chat it up with their friends and then go to work. Whereas people in the States multi task to the extent they couldn’t even tell you if their coffee was good. Slow down America!

·      I don’t know what is worse, garbage trucks coming in the early morning in the States or garbage trucks that come 11:30 at night in Roma. When I was home I used the garbage trucks as my alarm clock to go to the gym, but now the garbage trucks prevents me from going to sleep at night.

·      No one here seems to obey the traffic lights and signs, even the pedestrians!!! I’ve decided neither will I, because when I do obey the lights, I seem to get nowhere.

·      Even the bus drivers talk on their cell phones when they are driving. This gave me even more incentive to walk to school.

·      Even when you are crossing the street, it does not ensure you the right a way. Nor assume if you make eye contact with the driver they will slow down. Mostly likely they will speed up because they know you’ve acknowledge them, and therefore you must yield to them. When you cross the street own it like you mean it!

·      Forget about personal space or the definition of waiting your turn in a line. Too many times have I had someone breathe down my neck while waiting for the lights to turn green. Let it be known THERE IS PLENTY OF OTHER SPACE AROUND ME. Why crowd mine? I’m sure I sound like the typical American…. Mine, mine, mine!!!  There are some things that belong to me and that is personal space.  I hate saying it but I’m even getting competitive with grandmas over here while waiting in line. Aggressive grandmas are not to be taken lightly. There are numerous occasions where I’ve waited in line whether it is at the train station, at the bar, or even the bathroom and the old woman behind me snuck right in front of me. Come on now? Really? Two can play that game.

·      In Roma, no one pulls over for the ambulances. The only people who do get out of the way are the pedestrians and if you take a closer look it’s usually the Americans. Never in my entire life have I heard so many ambulances in one day. Here are my two theories; first, the ambulance drivers get a kick with driving fast. (It’s a guy thing I suppose) Or second, every time a foreigner tries Italian food including gelato they have a heart attack!  

·      The one thing I miss is fresh air. Every time I’m outside someone is blowing their cigarette smoke in my face. I’m surprised Italy and the European countries don’t have the cure for lung cancer by now. I’ve done some research, but females are affected far more than the males when it comes to lung cancer in Italy. Apparently the nicotine patch is not popular here.

·      PARKING! If I was the parking police I’d be a millionaire! These Italians come up with the most creative ways to park their car in places they DO NOT belong in. Italians give the definition of double parking a whole new meaning.

·      If half the cars in Roma got smog checked, I’m certain they would all fail.

·      Through experience, I’ve realized health care is free, but you get what you pay for.

·      For all you shoppers out there, don’t forget things close down in the middle of the day. Most stores are closed Sunday and Monday, and there are others who have more unusual schedules. My favorite bakery is completely unreliable. One day its open and one day it’s not, but this is not the case for every shop.

·      For all your men out there, don’t be embarrassed to wear your man purse. It’s the new wallet!

·      I love when I go to a shop there is the same person who helped me yesterday. Most of the time it is the owner, and they are extremely kind.

·      The Italians know the meaning of “quality time” and that is why I have grown fond of this culture. When was the last time you sat down for dinner for hours and didn’t even care how late you were staying out? Even though it is busy, busy on the streets of Roma, time seems to stop when friends and family are involved.

You can’t really compare Italy and the United States together. It’s almost as if you are comparing gelato and ice cream, but the thing is…. both ice cream and gelato taste good!

Yours truly,
Roamin’ Roman


  1. The first time I saw a lady in a nice dress and stilettos riding her vespa I was kind of in awe... not only did she look good, but that takes skill! It totally made me feel like I was in a movie or watching a magazine photo shoot lol. And it also made me want to go out and buy a nice dress and a vespa. But I think only a true Italian can pull that off with such effortless grace.
    And yes, somehow they can spot an American a mile away. It's not fair. And it's embarrassing when they talk to you in English before you even open your mouth. A couple times I pretended that I only spoke Chinese, that threw them off a little...
    Crossing the streets in Rome was a terrifying experience for me every time I had to do it. If you want a real thrill, go for a car ride with a Roman. Stoplights are just suggestions and pedestrians are 10 points, 20 points for a gypsy (kidding).
    I was always skeptical of elderly people when I was little (why, I don't know lol), but when I was in Italy I couldn't help but thinking, "I was right!" What is with that? Unfortunately, there's really not much you can do or say... the couple times I tried, not only was I ignored, but I got salty looks from a couple other people as if to say, "respect your elders, you brat!" Managia.
    About the gelato... nocciola and pistachio are the bomb. Somehow it just tastes better there. Anyway, I think my comment is almost as long as your post hah, I should get to my studying...
    By the way, I love reading your blogs when I have time (and even when I dont, like now) :)

  2. Thanks for the wonderful reminders of my (albeit brief) trips to Italy! Watch out for those grandmas -- they don't mess around! And, even for me (someone who you KNOW loves her high heels and tight skirts) I was in AWE of all the super-stylish women in Italy. And also in awe of the utter silence in the mornings (don't these people work? Um... apparently not) except at the espresso counters! Have fun and keep the wonderful updates and observations coming!

  3. Grant Said...

    Reading your blog made me think about my time in Spain and how different the Spanish and American cultures are. Culture differences are one of my favorite part of traveling! I am always looking forward to the day I can travel again and experience new things!

    We know you love gelato but have you tried Panforte (from Siena) or Torrone (from Piedmont)? Two of my favorite Italian deserts.

  4. Regarding my last comment... I take back the part about the gypsies. I was just feeling bitter because my wallet was stolen, I have nothing against people from Romania or pan handlers, just wanted to put that out there..... Glad to hear that you're still having a good time in Roma!

  5. I really enjoyed reading all of the differences you are experiencing. I really hope you remember to slow down and to multi task less when you get home. I was sitting on a bench today at school eating lunch and counting how many people were on their cell phone, it had to be at least 60% of the people. I wish people would slow down and enjoy their surroundings more.
    Anyways, it seems like you are having a wonderful time. And i'm glad you are enjoying all of the food there. Get some gnocchi. its wonderful

  6. Cultural differences really do make traveling so much better! I remember when I was in Germany over the Christmas holidays and it was more than acceptable to have beer and/or hot wine at any point in the day, even in the mornings. As you can imagine, I embraced that!

    I hope that you are planning a trip to Venice - that's a place I felt like I could totally let go and relax. In fact, Fernando and I spent days wandering around doing nothing but eating gelato and getting lost.

    Keep enjoying Italy - it sounds wonderful.

  7. What's this stuff about aggressive grandma's sneaking right in front of you while waiting in lines. Humph! Stuff and nonsense. Applaud her for having her mobility and wits about her to hit that bathroom in time while she is still able. Norn