David Moseley

When in Rome

2013-01-15 15:12

David Moseley

I'm writing this on a funny keyboard with weird Italian letters all over the place, so if you spot some funny words today, I apologise.

This classic is also being penned on a PC in the hotel lobby, at a hefty 10 euros per hour. I love you guys, but if it cuts out halfway through, I'll be damned if I'm spending the last drops of my honeymoon money on keeping you lot entertained, especially when I only have one day left in Rome to rush out and buy gladiator fridge magnets for my nearest and dearest. (21 minutes left!)

Being a lowly hack, I haven't travelled for quite some time. And my last overseas voyage was hardly cultural - a 2008 pub crawl around Britain sating my wanderlust. However, it seems in that gap between trips that tourists have cranked up the intensity of their sight-seeing.

Living and working in the heart of Cape Town I'm used to sniggering at Germans in sandals taking snaps of lamp posts before rushing off to find the next hop-on, hop-off bus. Asian visitors also seem to enjoy scurrying about (in cliched organised packs) without stopping to enjoy the scenery.

It's not something I've given much thought, until the last few days.

Robyn and I have been in Rome since last Wednesday and we've walked this city flat. I've seen enough culture to last until Cats is playing at the Artscape again. But what we've also seen are hordes of tourists (and it's the middle of winter here - I can't imagine what summer is like) charging about, taking pictures and moving on to the next sight like culturally savvy locusts. There's a constant clump of footsteps and camera clicking, forced poses, self portraits in front of the major attractions and pointing to the next site as groups barge past one and other en route to next best photo opportunity.

For a South African who needs to save for plenty years just to afford one meal over here, it's a sad sight. There's no doubt Rome is a great tourist city, but it seems that the culture of sight-seeing has mutated into sight-sprinting, with visitors intent only on snapping away without really taking anything in.

Just yesterday, while strolling towards the Sistine Chapel (housed inside the Vatican Museum), we were bowled over by a group marauding through the Museum, who were ignoring the other treasures because they only had eyes for Michelangelo's masterpiece (of which, I must say, is quite mind-boggling to see in real life). (9 minutes left!).

Everyone is in a rush, either charging after a tour bus or bolting from Roman pillar to post. If that's the life of a tourist, then colour me local. I guess it's a sign of the times, that crazy costs force people to get their money's worth on trips like this.

I'm off to Istanbul tomorrow. Maybe there the sight-seeing hordes will have a more sedate manner about town. Unlikely.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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