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If the World Is a Stage, then most Romans Are Keen Spectators

Image courtesy of Ruth Orkin

Romans find open curiosity as natural as breathing

For some cultures, it’s rude to stare. In the Eternal City however, a frank glance or a lingering gaze is a manifestation of an inquisitive culture. Or let’s face it, unabashed attraction.

Many newcomers to Rome are often taken aback at the degree of optical attention they receive from passing locals. Visitors’ reactions range from mild surprise, to paranoid panic that their recent indulgence of gelato is advertised on their clothes or faces.

Some even feel irritated, erroneously thinking that there’s something hostile in their newfound attention.

While cities throughout the world have their fare share of jerks, the Roman tendency for open regard isn’t attached to mean-spirited antagonism. Rather, a genuine appraisal of the person across from them is the driving force behind their direct looks.

And it isn’t difficult to understand why.

Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world with over 48 million tourists per year, and Rome is one of Europe’s top performers in the city-tourism industry. In fact, as two of the leaders in the industry, Rome and London saw 100 million bednights in 2015.

Perhaps for a culture that is used to viewing and contemplating its impressive artistic heritage, its own fleeting and permanent inhabitants become parts of the rich spectacle of life. As a high-ranking vacation destination, Rome plays host to individuals of all walks of life from all corners of the globe.

It’s also considered to be a religious hub for many of the world’s Catholic inhabitants. Receiving over roughly 20,000 art-lovers and pilgrims per day, the Vatican significantly adds to Rome’s staggering number of adventurers.

With such a flurry of individuals representing varying cultures, languages, styles, nationalities, and genders exploring their cobbled landscape, it’s no wonder that Romans try to soak in the action and beauty around them.

It’s of this author’s humble opinion that the spirit of Shakespearean poetry is imbued in a Roman’s casual curiosity of its guests, where ‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women are merely players’.

And any stage worth viewing needs a rapt audience.

Ready to play your part and bless Rome with your awesome presence? Then become a cast member in a Joy of Rome tour and get the attention you deserve.