Monday, August 13, 2012

i love the foreigners in Rome, especially in August!

Massage from a Chinese lady, on Ostia beach, Rome
i love the foreigners in Rome. We really make the Roman world go round, especially in August.

i live on Piazza Risorgimento, in downtown Rome, just outside of Vatican City. When i go outside in the morning to the bar right on the corner, the first smile and "Buon giorno," i get is from the Romanian girl that makes my coffee.

If i'm missing an ingredient for breakfast, i go around the next corner to the Bangaldeshi mini-mart where the shop keeper gives me a smile and asks how i am. He is almost always open, even late into the evening. Local holidays mean nothing to him, so he's here all August, on Christmas, Easter, whatever. And it's not just because he's not Christian - right now is the month of Ramadan, a serious holy period for Muslims, during which they do not eat from sunrise to after sunset for the whole month. This does not cause him to take time off work, it does not cause him to be any less consistently friendly than he always is.

If i need something printed out from the internet i go across the street to his brother's internet point. He also keeps his shop open late every day and is on his toes to be helpful. (And there are no internet points in this neighborhood run by Italian people, so all the more reason to be thankful for the Bangladeshis!)

August is famous for being the hottest month of the year, and we are told it's a bad time to visit for that reason. But actually July is the hottest month here. And what do all the Italians do in August? They go on vacation in Italy!;-) And because of this things run by Italians, like restaurants and churches, tend to be closed, sometimes without explanation or warning. i found this to be the fact yesterday at the Pantheon, as i took clients there during hours it should have been open...but it was not. Why? Because they don't tend to hire foreigners as staff there, so it has to close in August, screw all the visitors from around the world that have come to see it!

i walked all over the center yesterday and heard barely any Italian being spoken. This makes the sites much less crowded, and the roads are quieter, and much safer, without the Romans driving on them!

Getting a massage on Ostia beach, Rome
And as the Italian restaurants close up, i find myself increasingly thankful for the kebab shops around the touristy parts of the center, where i can good wholesome, tasty food served to me most hours of the day. My favorite shop here is run by a Kurdish guy from Turkey, always open, always friendly.

But maybe my favorite way that foreigners make experience better here is at Ostia beach, where Rome meets the sea. It reminds me a lot of the Jersey shore. Nice, sandy beach, often with nice waves to ride - and African and Bangladeshi guys bringing around water and beer (!!!) for the same price that the Italians sell them for in the bar. And best of all, Chinese ladies giving good, cheap massages on the beach. Most recently i paid 20euros for a 45minute massage from a Chinese lady called Chen. They tend to not speak much Italian or English, but they sure know what they are doing! Chen even got the many-miles-per-day-of-walking out of my feet, the tension from carrying my work bag out of my lower back, she massaged the inside of my eye sockets and the crown chakra at the top of my head. It was pretty fantastic and made me realize how much i appreciate the foreigners in Rome, especially in August! :-)

First photo by my friend Harry O.B., second pic by an unknown friend of the author - anybody want credit? 


  1. Ryan! I love this! First and foremost, I was shocked to visit Croatia on the 10th of August to then return on the 14th to find half of Rome's inhabitants gone!! As a matter of fact - they were all in Croatia! More importantly, however, I got to see how foreigners do make a city like Rome run so much smoother...and certainly for ex-pats. I'll never forget when we went to Ostia beach and my mouth watered as I watched you get an amazing 20 Euro massage and wondered how I could get one too. Having asked for a half body massage, I definitely got the short end of the stick. Solution: If you're going to take a service, don't do half, do the whole thing. But these are beautiful moments when learning about how things are done in a different country. I have you and others to thank for that.

  2. I came across this entry and I am so surprised in a positive way by the style you organize your blog post! How exactly do you spread the knowledge about the fact that you published a blog article to this site?

    1. Hi Brian:-) My two major sources of audience are Facebook and people who find my articles by google searches. i get some traffic from reddit links and links from other people's blogs, but mostly Facebook and google searches from around the world.

  3. thanks for sharing.


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