Sunday, July 03, 2005

Part 8: Universal Languages

4:30pm Fontana di Trevi, local time

I hope never to be unsympathetic to a non-English speaker in Sydney ever again. In Rome I am limited to: counting to five, please, thank you and fuck you (that was taught to me by Adrian's new boy. I'm sure he believed he was being cute when he got me to say it to a couple of other people).

In the meantime, I begin to appreciate which languages can be understood no matter where in the world you might be.

begging The gypsies here are quite tragic. These otherwise gorgeous dark-haired girls come up to you on the train or in a restaurant to rattle a cup under your nose. Sometimes, they might dance or sing but this won't make their cup spilleth over. People easily turn a blind eye.

If only I hadn't just got off a train where three gypsy women were allowing a small boy to ride his bike up and down the car - as the train was moving (they perhaps might not have been smiling so much if the doors had opened and he rode out into the tunnel) - and then laughing at him when he crashed into the wall and started to cry. Honestly, what is that about?!

queueing 40 minutes for the Vatican musuem (when I was finally allowed in, third time lucky), 1 hour 20 for the galleria dell'Accademia (home of Michelangelo's David), 30 minutes for the Galleria degli Uffizi (Botticceli's Birth of Venus, amongst his other, and Raffaelo, Rembrandt, Leonardo's etc masterpieces) and then 1 hour for the Gay Village last night (in Rome, almost all the gay bars close over summer, and the Gay Village comes to life, two outdoor dance floors, stalls and kittens and puppies for sale). Thankfully the Gay Village queue at least had no Americans to deal with.

dancing and snogging These are givens.

American English Apart from the magificent Americans who read this website, none - at least in Italy I have seen - seem capable of appreciating the fact that people who don't live in American are not, in fact, Americans. How is it so many of them can be coming to some of the most beautiful and educational sites in the world, and still the country on the whole is insular, parochial and utterly disrespectful of other cultures?

I have finally managed to sort myself out in Rome and seen some remarkable architecture without drama. The Colosseum is especially humbling and not a little bit unsettling, the tortured ghosts who inhabit its decaying walls screaming silently to you as they do in Port Arthur.

I've also thrown a Euro into the Fontana, which apparently guarantees your return to Rome. That's reassuring.

More to write about my day trip yesterday to Florence and by almost religious epiphany there.


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