In addition to being the capital of Italy, Rome, the Eternal City, has been a historic location for thousands of years. The many sites and attractions within the city are a magnet for tourists and they flock to Rome every summer.
Some of the magnificent locations to see in Rome include the Colosseum, Pantheon and Forum from the Roman Republic and Empire eras. Vatican City, with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Apostolic Palace from the Renaissance. Squares and buildings from the later Baroque and Neoclassical Eras and even more modern art and architecture.
Seeing Rome through the eyes of history
These sites, and the hundreds not listed, as worth a visit for first-time or returning travelers. Yet, as with all historic locations, being the awkward, bumbling tourist can lead to frustrations, delays and, even, fines.
Visitors to Rome should have a basic understanding of what is expected of them. American visitors need to remember they are not in their own country and some laws and traditions are very different than from those at home. Visiting Rome and enjoying the attractions should be a comfortable and smooth vacation.
In that spirit, here is a list of things you shouldn’t do while in Rome:
● Don’t dress inappropriately. Many of the attractions in Rome, and all of them in Vatican City, are of a religious nature and there are rules about the amount of skin you show. Male or female. Shoulders should be covered and shorts should reach to the knees. If you forget or didn’t think about it, there are vendors that will sell shawls to cover up your shoulders close to all the religious sites.
● Don’t jump in the fountains. The fountains are as much works of art as the buildings. You can toss coins in the fountains – over your left shoulder for a speedy return to Rome – but splashing in, swimming and wading in the fountains can all lead to tickets and fines.
● Don’t take pictures of the Sistine Chapel. Although it’s no longer against the law to take pictures, it is still frowned upon. If you do take a picture, expect to get stern looks and warnings not to do it again.
● Don’t pay the gladiators. Every country has people trying to make a quick buck, and Italy is no different. The gladiators want to take your picture or have their picture taken with you. This isn’t free, although it isn’t legal, either. Protect your cash and your camera and avoid these guys. There are too many beautiful things to photograph instead of wasting your time on cheesy tourist pap.
● Don’t drive. In addition to serious and real problems with smog and air pollution, many Italian drivers are not what we would call defensive. While in Rome, it is simpler and healthier to take public transportation, a taxi or even walk from place to place.
● Don’t ignore local customs. Italy is a nation of food lovers and although Italian food is very popular in America, it isn’t quite the same. Specific issues can come up, but it is usually better to know a little about the culture before trying to impose your will upon it.
The many splendors of Rome are available for travelers and tourists but knowing what is and is not allowed will go a long way toward making your stay a pleasant and productive one. From the time you arrive in the city to when you search for your flight at the Rome airport departures, you are visiting a different country with different laws, traditions and culture. As they say, when in Rome…