Rome historic in more than one sense

Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 03:37 PM.

Pompeii remains my single favorite tour, but the Colosseum is a close second. I know cheers and jeers of ancient Roman crowds couldn’t possibly have survived 2,000 years, but I strained to hear them anyway. I even went through the motions of a secretive "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" just for the connective hoot of it.

Trevi Fountain was a "must see," but the huge crowds around it gave lie to its romantic reputation. I was afraid I’d put somebody’s eye out trying to toss coins into it. It was so very crowded, as were the Spanish Steps.

Rome is called the "city of fashion" for a reason. My wife Ann was continually entertained by styles, purses, shoes, clothes and all those things I generally ignore. The city is full of very sharp dressers and sharp stores. Cha-ching.

Because this beautiful city is perpetually invaded by tourists, visitors are targeted by hordes of trinket sellers. You quickly learn to ignore such approaches and walk on. If you answer their sales pitch, it’s like ringing a dinner-bell.

I did respond to one guy who was hawking Obama dolls for 5 Euros (about $7 US). I told him I wasn’t interested but would be more than happy to let him have the original for a nickel. He smiled but didn’t understand. I smiled because I did.

As soon as I started buying stuff I noticed they have a national sales tax of 21 percent! When I mentioned this, our driver said he’s paying nearly half of his income in taxes, and the government now wants more.

Maybe a Tea — make that "Wine Party" — is in their future.

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