Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ostia Antica

What Rome doesn’t have is visible minorities. There are some, mainly South-East Asian, but I have seen very few people of African descent who could not legitimately have been tourists. My Roman friends confirm this: while Italy is actually a major entry point and transit hub for immigrants from the Mediterranean’s more exciting regions – what with a vast coastline and a thriving pleasure boating scene that probably makes immigration policing futile – very few immigrants, legal or otherwise, settle here. There seems to still be a lot of everyday-level racism here; not enormously evil (trivia from visiting the Jewish Ghetto: almost all of Rome’s Jewish community survived under Mussolini) but uncomfortable enough that people prefer to take their chances elsewhere. The upshot is that for a European city of this size, Rome is shockingly white.

In more ways than one, actually. Another thing that Rome does not appear to have is a counter-culture. There are no emo kids, no goths, not so much as a Metallica T-shirt in sight. Everybody seems to be dressed as if from Kaubamaja; the height of youthful rebellion is a football team’s shirt, or for the really preposterous macho types, a sleeveless maika. I tried doing the preppie thing at first, as you can see from the Forum video, but it’s just not me: I know I look good in business-casual, and I know how to tie a double Windsor, but I rarely do that. So Rome is a bit of a cognitive dissonance: the frame of reference for my dress style is Stockholm, and there my cargo fatigues and motorcycle club support tee barely register. In Rome, I’m the heaviest person around. Even the dudes on Harleys are wearing polo shirts.

Here’s a prevalent Roman mindfuck: bread in restaurants. While La Dolce Vita (Tartu’s culinary poster child, authentic enough to have a brick wood-fired oven and an Italian head chef) serves delicious freshly-baked rolls with your meal, these fuckers drop a basket with three dry, stale slices on the table whether you asked for them or not, and have the audacity to charge you a euro fifty for it. Well, that was your tip right there, buddy.

Roman nightlife is fun. The capital is the victim of much snobbery from Northern cultural outposts, but Romans really do not spend much time in nightclubs, preferring to go out at night, once it’s cooled down, and just sit there nursing a drink, talking about nothing. Less Atlantis, more Zavood, if you will. All the more strange that all the bars close at 2 am sharp. They’re doing it because it’s the law, and certainly not because they’re running out of customers by that point.

Assessment of Italian girls following several nights’ worth of pubcrawl in Trastevere: nice legs, shame about the face. I’m sure the temperament is exciting, but on the face of it (boo hiss), Northern Europe wins.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have encountered bad service, but stale and dry bread fortunately doesn't ring a bell. From Rome on northwards, the bread is often low in salt and it doesn't have any "crumb" -- it's not soft. That said, I don't doubt you know what stale bread is.

Cover charges are fairly ubiquitous and they are in fact considered the tip. 1.50 is at the lower end.

dresolve said...

There seems to still be a lot of everyday-level racism here:

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/07/21/gypsy.reaction/?iref=mpstoryview

Anonymous said...

What Rome doesn’t have is visible minorities.

You clearly didn't leave the tourist areas.

Another thing that Rome does not appear to have is a counter-culture.

There is every kind of counter-culture, mainly communist/hippie kind of counter-culture, next time make sure to visit Piazza di S. Lorenzo or university areas.

...serves delicious freshly-baked rolls with your meal, these fuckers drop a basket with three dry, stale slices on the table whether you asked for them or not.

Pane and pane di latte are different things. And tourists visit il ristorante while romans have their meal in la trattoria, for a reason.

The capital is the victim of much snobbery from Northern cultural outposts.

Yes, in the tourist areas. And remember that in italian nightclub is brothel and discoteca is nightclub. Next time visit http://www.circoloartisti.it/dove.htm

Flasher T said...

"You clearly didn't leave the tourist areas."

No shit; I was a tourist. Why would I go out to the suburbs? It's still a valid comparison though, because I didn't really leave the tourist areas in Paris or Amsterdam either.

"And tourists visit il ristorante while romans have their meal in la trattoria, for a reason."

*shrug* Some of the places I ate at were called la trattoria. The best place around my hotel by far was Africa, a restaurant that I found in my Rough Guide book. Also, just because an eatery is geared to tourists does not automatically give them a mindfuck license.

Anonymous said...

It's still a valid comparison though, because I didn't really leave the tourist areas in Paris or Amsterdam either.

Yes it's true. Afrer WWII during the economic boom while western industrial areas "imported working hands" outside europe, italy had it's own supply called south-italy. I really haven't met a roman who is not partly from south. The regional diffeneces are huge even nowadays.

On the other hand there are many illegal immigrants from all over the world, but most of them are not planning to stay in Italy. They just want to make enough profit and go back to their original country.

For example there are more than 200K pakistanians (99% males) in Rome who are happy if they make more profit than 1 euro a day wich is an avarage daily wage in pakistan. And they are only living there to get enough money for getting married and being a rahaboss back home.

Also, just because an eatery is geared to tourists does not automatically give them a mindfuck license.

In Rome it does :) There are so many tourists, that nothing would happen, if they wouldn't wear pants.

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