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Is it really possible to avoid the tourist trap?
Yes, everyone I've told this to said that I'm crazy -- "how could you not like Rome!?" is what they snapped back at me.
This is why:
- All I heard around me was English, Spanish and French -- where were all the Italians!?
- The Colosseum blew my mind -- but outside it there was a 10 piece Brazilian band getting people to samba, a puppet show, two clowns singing some ridiculous song in Spanish, and some break-dancers.
- A cappuchino cost me €3.50 everywhere in the center.
- The lines to get into any place of significance like the Vatican or the Colosseum were endless, and it wasn't even peak season.
- It felt nothing like an ancient Roman city; it felt more like Disneyland with the odd Bulgarian dressed like a gladiator as opposed to Mickey Mouse.
Maybe it was because I was only there for three days so focused on seeing the main stuff that Rome is known for, rather than going off the beaten path in search of some real Italian culture -- something I missed out on even though I was with a friend who has been living there for two years with her Italian boyfriend.
The presence of so many tourists ruined it for me (yes I know even I'm a tourist) and made me mad to the extent that I wondered why I even bothered to go to Rome.
I should have gone to Asciano or Bevagna; I would have missed Fontana di Trevi, but would have eaten some authentic risotto. But then how can you not go to Rome!? It's one of those Catch 22's.
There is a good piece on MSNBC that talks about this and recommends how to escape the tourist trap. Funny thing is, there is nothing new in the article, but yet I have no idea how I would have bypassed the tourist blast in Rome.