Rome - Stuck in History

People were banging on both sides of the train trying to get in, even as it started to more away sluggish at first from the overload, more people ran alongside desperate to get inside.

My husband and I were on our last leg of our amazing Europe adventure and we were just leaving the romantic and beautiful city of Venice heading to Rome, but there was a train strike and suddenly everyone was desperate to get on the last remaining trains, there we were with our backpacks crammed into the last inch of space left for a six hour journey, could this be a sign of things to come?

We arrived into Rome in one piece grateful for fresh air and looking forward to seeing this Historical city we dropped our bags off at once ready to explore.

The streets of Rome at last! I had always dreamed of walking these famous cobblestoned roads, where Julius Caesar and Augustus had walked decades before me.

Rome being as popular as it is with four million tourists a year was a busy place, people from all walks of life were milling around and to my naivety there were a lot of locals, the first thing I noticed was that the Rome police were everywhere and they were beyond proud, almost smug, they stood around in groups knowing they were a force to be reckoned with, their very well looked after hair was slicked back with gel and their aviator sun glasses were part of the pose they adopted, ready anytime to have photos with pretty tourists as they passed. I thought them quite funny but kept my laughter to myself as im sure that was not the reaction they wanted.

The streets leading to the colosseum had trendy coffee shops, and little places to eat, the shop owners while very welcoming didnít seem happy, they rarely smiled and you got the feeling they didnít embrace their cities history and wanted the city to move on, they were stuck forever in an ancient city because everyone in the world wanted them to be, the moment you walked outside you were in a different Era.

We descended upon the colosseum; tourists in the hundreds surrounded it along with performers dressed up in very convincing costumes of gladiators and slaves. Being on our backpacking budget we decided to follow a tour group and it was easy to listen into their guide. The worlds largest amphitheatre was very impressive and the stones themselves seemed to breathe their past excitement and tortures, you couldnít help but be pulled into the history.

A visit to Rome would not be complete without seeing the Trevi Fountain, we could hear drumming which was straight in the path we needed to go, we rounded a corner and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a giant protest for legalising Marijuana, hundreds of the Police that I had seen earlier stood in front leading the mob forward who to my horror started to completely destroy the gorgeous street, we flattened ourselves against the wall, not quite believing what we were seeing, signs, drums, colour, dancing, flashes of spray paint swarmed before us.

There were thousands of people in the march. When the end of the tail finally came there more lines of police containing the protest, I watched on sad as shop owners rushed onto the street pleading to the police to do something, the street was a disaster, graffiti, spray paint and litter was everywhere, the police shrugged off their complaints as if an annoyance and the shop owners and their families started to clean the streets themselves, too proud with shakes of heads they refused our help.

The rest of our Rome trip went without a hitch but it was tainted, this clearly is an angry, confused city that that is stuck in a rut, everywhere around the world everyday Rome is flooded by tourists to see the architecture, to be part of history and yes it is worth the trip but what about the families, the people, are they not entitled to a new history? A new beginning? Maybe we are the selfish ones that want Rome to be stuck in this eternal ancient era?

I hope in the future the citizens of Rome can embrace the past and include it into their everyday and the two can be part of each otherís world and celebrate both together as one city.

C Metge

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