My point of view #11

MY POINT OF VIEW #11 (By Tatiana Sisquella)

This week it’s your turn to write the article, because I’ve just put myself in your shoes. Yes that’s right, I played the tourist over Easter and spent 4 days in Rome. It’s also true that I filled my face with all that mozzarella cheese produced by female buffaloes, and which now turns out to be contaminated, but that’s another matter..

touristThe thing is that for the first time I was really aware of what it’s like to be a 4-day-tourist in a strange city. To begin with, there’s the stress involved in finding out about the places you have to see once you get there. Because that in itself is a double-edged sword. On the one hand you can’t avoid the Coliseum, the Pantheon and the Piazza di Spagna, but on the other hand, you feel the urgent need to discover the Rome that’s not described in the guides – a hidden café in some alley that only the natives know about, shops that don’t have branches all over the world and restaurants where they don’t care whether you’re Catalan, Japanese or Milanese: they still serve you good food.

So, I set off on my journey armed with the dutiful guide and a sheet of paper with all the notes that I had taken from various friends and acquaintances who had already been to Rome and remembered some special, different place they particularly recommended.

This is what I did: the first day after arriving I went to see ALL the monuments, streets and places that were “essential”. This way I had the remaining days to walk around in a world of my own, looking around and discovering the city without the need to fill up the camera with photos.

But through this exercise I realised that the people that visit Rome for a few days can only see the city that’s meant for the tourists. In my 4 days in the city I found it very difficult to find a supermarket; I didn’t see one hairdresser’s; I only came across a few cinemas and hardly ever heard anybody speaking Italian…and consequently I asked myself:

What kind of Barcelona do you see when you come to my city?

After thinking about this on the flight back (and I have to say that, thanks to the airline’s delay in getting the flight to leave, my reflection on the matter was all the deeper and more thoughtful), I think I have reached a conclusion.

I have the sensation that, for one reason or another, in Barcelona we natives of the city still share the streets with the tourists. We frequent the places mentioned in the travel guides, we eat in the restaurants recommended for visitors, we go out in the areas full of Italians, French, Americans and Japanese, etc., whereas, in cities like Rome the Romans decided a long time ago that their daily life (and nightlife) should not be mixed up with that of the tourists.

Consequently the person who chooses Rome as a tourist destination returns home with hundreds of photographs, postcard memories and a stomach full of good pasta with Bolognese sauce, but with the sensation of not having caressed the city’s skin, of not having felt the pulse of its streets or heard the voice powered by its lungs.  


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