Mar 31st, 2008, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 100
I'm sorry you were treated poorly in Rome. We were in Rome on three different days earlier this month, and while we encountered some gruffness and a taxi driver scam, we also experienced an act of random kindness:

We had just walked through the Trastevere neighborhood. It was refreshing to be in this relatively car-free medieval district. We stopped at Santa Maria in Trastevere and enjoyed the mosaics. As we approached Viale di Trastevere, we decided to take the “H” bus back to Termini (to catch the train to Palestrina). After finding the nearest bus stop, a women walked up to us and patiently explained to us (in Italian) that the “H” bus did not stop there. A nearby newsstand worker overhead the conversation and told us that the next “H” bus stop was at the Tiber river
dickensdad is offline  
Mar 31st, 2008, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 518
Checkerspot -- when I read your first post I wondered about your ethnic identity... I am also Asian-American and have had similar experiences in Europe. I still remember the first time I went to Italy in 1995 -- my parents and I would walk through the narrow streets of Venice and people would say "Konichiwa" -- they thought we were Japanese because 99% of the Asians who travelled through Venice were from Japan. The LAST thing they would have suspected was that we were American.

I'm sorry you had unpleasant experiences in Rome on your recent visit and I hope you'll visit Italy again. I've had some of the kindest people help me in Italy and some of the rudest people spurn me -- take heart and know that not everyone is rude.

Traveller1959 -- I must humbly disagree with a few of your points. I recently visited Roman friends in Rome. We did not order four courses at every meal and one night we ate pizza for dinner. Italians do not eat four courses at every meal -- that would be madness! How do you think they stay so thin?!

butnotrmpt -- I sincerely hope you do NOT attempt to "let the Italians think you are Canadian than American." As the American wife of an American diplomat, no words are more horrifying to me!!! Why on EARTH would you pretend to be Canadian?! There is NOTHING shameful about being Ameridan. There are only some (few) shameful Americans. If you are a polite, respectful, interested, engaged tourist, WHY would you want to give all that credit to the Canadians???
petitepois is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 07:23 AM
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petitepois - I was only relating advice that had been given to me as far as passing myself off as Canadian. I agree that if we behave as respectful, quiet, polite tourists, that could reflect well on our country. The problem, in my mind, is twofold. There are too many Americans whose behavior is embarrassing - they are loud, demanding, and do not respect the traditions of the area they are visiting. And unfortunately, these days, our country does not reflect well on us, and I fear that when traveling abroad, we reap the consequences of that. That, of course, is a political viewpoint, but I feel that it deserves a place in this thread, since the actions of our country have a lot to do with what people elsewhere think of us.

Those that disagree - do not throw brickbats at me - I'm just expressing an opinion.
butnotrmpt is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 444

I agree with you and feel the same way.

Prejudice is an ugly thing and I have seen it here in our own country many times. I truly hope that was not the case in Rome and rather that you just caught the locals at a bad time.
letsgo39 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 6
We traveled to London last year and found a lot of food servers that were not very helpful or pleasant. But then I noticed that the service was good in the nice restaurants. And that is the key... The people in the fast food places were in an expensive city, hardly making any money in a dead-end job. And it seemed most of them were not English. The same thing is true in America - we are almost surprised when we get superior service in a mid-range restaurant, because the waiters do not plan to make a career of it. And what about our fast-food servers? They are often not the most pleasant people.
oldwhiteguy2earth is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:30 AM
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BTW, I'm going to Rome in May and I also was told to think about passing myself off as a Canadian.
oldwhiteguy2earth is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:53 AM
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Posts: 12,820
I dont know why anyone want to pass for a citizen of another country.

Are you ashamed to be an American? America I presume is your place of birth and you should be proud to say: I Am an American.

As for the rudes people that checkerspot have encountered while visiting Rome; they probably were themselves foreigners from Balkanic or Eastern countries that immigrated to Italy.

As for racism I live in the US and believe me I truly see everyday what the word Racism meant.
kismetchimera is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,444
Hi checkerspot,

I do sympathise with your disappointment at the lack of warmth you found in Rome - whatever caused it, it's a shame that it's dissuading you from visiting the rest of Italy.

we just got back from Venice and I urge you to reconsider, at least where that city is concerned - frankly the water is getting so high it may not last much longer!

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 12:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 818
I am Italian and have been living in Rome for the past 22 years. Before I lived in London. When I first came here I thought the Romans were incredibly rude except to each other. Slowly I learnt to differentiate and interpret their behaviour. Sometimes rudeness and agressiveness are a part of a comedy show: you have to learn the slang and laugh with them. Sometimes rudeness comes from exasperation - too many tourists, too many crowds. Sometimes it is the tourists who deserve it (I saw a girl take off her sweaty shoes at a restaurant while we were eating and put her smelly feet on the chair!). Sometimes it is ignorance and lack of familiarity with people from different cultures.You used the term "casual raciscm" - it is often just that. Romans will use the word filipino to refer to their cleaner irrespective of where they come from. If you tell them off they don't see anything wrong with it. It's like joking about women drivers. Political correctness is still an alien concept. This can be frustrating but often there is no real racism intended. Immigration in Italy is still a relatively recent phenomenon as is tourism from Asia and Africa.
We will learn! Meanwhile don't be put off and do come again...preferably not at Easter!
carrom is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 02:05 PM
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Posts: 223
Hi Checkerspot:

I'm sorry to hear about your negative experience in Rome. I've not had the same experience and maybe it is as some have said in terms of ethnic insensitivity. What blows my mind is the suggestion that to avoid negative comments from Romans is to masquerade as Canadians. I've read posts about sewing Canadian flags on backpacks, now about carrying Canadian dollars, what's next. Let's just say that we are from planet Earth and treat everyone with dignity.
Denise is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 02:19 PM
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Well said carrom, I agree with you 100%.
kismetchimera is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 51
Hi checkerspot,
I totally agree with your observations, and yet, we are planning another trip, more of an educational for our little one. 3 yrs ago, we were in Rome. I thought, knowing a little Spanish and Latin will help. It does not help at all. Italians are naturally fast with speech, and I think goes with it is their impatience. They are directionally challenged as well. After our trip to Rome that year, I have said that I'd rather be lost in New York than anywhere else in the world. I am not saying this to make one race better than the other. We'll just have to understand. And that is true!
While in Rome, other tourists were complaining about the locals' rudeness, and all the other observations said in this thread. We met these tourists at the hop on hop off stops, and I guess, they found comfort in relating their experiences to us. One group was from Amsterdam, and another couple from London.
The concierge in our hotel was not much help either. And it is a 4 1/2 star hotel. So then, we just shugged it off. Everymorning, for breakfast, we'd be greeted by the maitre'd and seated politely. There was a group of Asian tourists staying at that time in our hotel. What we noticed is that they were litterally commandeered by the maitre'd every morning to move there, move here. We were as Asian looking as all the tourists, and yet we were treated well. The last breakfast,we were let in and the other groups were shooed away, saying the restaurant wasn't ready yet. There was a group of Caucasians that were let in like us. I thought that maybe, we have notified the concierge that we have an early flight. We felt uneasy that we cannot do anything about that. Going down to the lobby, I heard the Caucasians were Americans and were complaining about how the maitre'd has treated the other hotel guests. I said, only an American will stand up for the rights of others. Shame on me, that I enjoyed the comfort of being treated well while they did not treat the others right.
On another light, going home, we ordered for airport service. The driver, the moment he learned we were Americans, he started saying "Oh I love America! Please tell all Americans we love them!' He went on almost bowing to us.
Also, the night before we left, we were around the Trevi area. My husband wanted to buy something from a grocery store. Of course, we asked, and as expected, the usual throw of hand towards the direction and some non-understandable Italian. We followed the wave of his hand down the street. When we found the store, as we entered, we saw the man actually followed us to see to it that we found it safe. After that, my husband said, he likes the people and could understand them now. We still could not understand the maitre'd though.
And yes, I've been lost in New York, and people are so willing to help, despite the rush to work.
suzy101 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 04:37 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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will people ever get over the idea that just because one is a tourist ( and cannot speak a word of their language) all ordinary, working , NOT on holidays Italians, French , Spaniards e.t.c, should just drop everything, put a smile on their face and explain for a hundred and first time how to get to ......
danon is online now  
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:39 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 252
We generally found the Italian people to be warm, gracious and helpful to us in Rome, Venice, Sorrento, Positano, Verona and Capri.

I have been treated much more rudely by employees of Wal-Mart here in the US.
mauitammy is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 06:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 34

I'm an African American woman in my mid 20s and , I encountered treatment similar to the experiences you've described when I spent 8 weeks in Europe after graduating from college. In contrast to many young travelers, we stayed in 3 - 4 star hotels, as opposed to hostels and treated ourselves to great food. I think we surprised people not only by our skin color, but also by the places they encountered us. Although our experience in Rome (and to a lesser extent Venice) was bad, we were ultimately happy that we pressed onward through Italy as our experiences improved in many of the other cities (I LOVED Florence) and overall the good definitely outweighed the bad. I actually made a separate trip back to Rome and Amalfi for two weeks two years ago and had a VASTLY different experience. Everyone was helpful and accommodating, even in Capri where we stayed for a week and were braced for the worst. At the end of the day, these are all fabulous places and definitely not worth missing out on (I'm actually taking my mom back for 2 more weeks in Sept!). I'd say arm yourself with as much info as you can before you go and make the best of it. You're probably just as likely to get the same surly responses in [fill in the blank] US city so why not go and see something new.

On a somewhat related note, I've also traveled alone in Asia and I was a spectacle, to say the least. What I've learned is to remember that if I'm going to travel, I'll probably stick out and to walk with thick skin and a smile.

devedi is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 11:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 47
Thank you fellow fodorites for your responses to this thread albeit good or bad. Travelling for our family is fun no matter what risks it entails. The mere fact that we willingly place ourselves in foreign soil should already be enough explanation. It should already be screaming, "We are here to learn your way of life, your culture, your language, your imperfections and tolerance." We always travel with our 2 young kids to not only show them the good and the bad but more importantly to show them how diverse this world that we ALL live in really is. Racism indeed is everywhere but it will never stop us from being what we are. We are very proud of being Filipino Americans and are very comfortable in our skin. No, Danon,we do not expect locals to cater to us for being "tourists" but are well travelled enough to make comparisons of how people have treated us from one country to another. It is what it is. Just like one of the responders here said, you harvest what you sow. Using that very same cliche, when we encounter tourists in our restaurant (by the way it is a French restaurant), we go out of our way to make them feel welcome knowing that as fellow travellers, we know that it is such a big honor to serve these people to come out all the way to our "neck of the woods" just to learn our culture. That, to me is humbling. I can only hope to get the same treatment but I NEVER demand it. As I've said, we have very low expectations, a simple smile or nod would do. Life is too short to dwell only on the bad aspects of it. On a positive note (because for me, there is always at least one), we have already booked our next trip to Europe in a few months time. Believe me, we hold no grudge just memories......
checkerspot is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 7
So sorry to hear about the rudeness you encountered in my fav city. I returned from Ireland last Sunday & we experienced extreme rudeness & racism--in Galway & Dublin. Would I return? Of course not! I'll spend my money in countries that are kind & respectful to my family, friends, & me.
Fabriano is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 09:45 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13,435
fabrioano, I don' know what you experienced in Ireland, but it is not a COUNTRY that is disrespectful - just some individuals .
I encountered a rude person in Copenhagen ( are Danish people rude ? don't think so) but she perhaps had something more urgent on her mind than giving me directions in English.
Several people in New York were rather unpleasant - that hardly reflects on the US as a country or Americans as people.
Traveling is often stressful ( and expensive), we all hope it to be a
wonderful experience, but if we keep in mind it is only individuals we encounter ( same as in our hometowns) we might be a bit more forgiving and not paint all with the same brush.
danon is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 760
This has been around for a few years, but interesting anyway:

So says the Mirror...

BRITS are the rudest, worst behaved and least adventurous holidaymakers in the world - and Germans the best.

Tourist offices placed us (Great Britain) at the bottom of 24 countries, a survey said yesterday.

In contrast those sunbed bandits from Germany ranked highest for behaviour and their attempts to speak the local language. Dermot Halpin, boss of online travel service Expedia which conducted the survey, said: "Much as it pains me to say it, the Germans deserve the best sunbeds.

"British holidaymakers are some of the most widely travelled in the world. But that doesn't mean we're good at it." Expedia questioned tourist offices in 17 popular destinations worldwide. Britons were worst for rudeness, followed by Russians and Canadians.

They were also worst for their behaviour, learning the language and enthusiasm to try local delicacies.

Next on the bottom of the list were the Israelis, Irish and Indians. At the top, the Germans were followed by Americans, Japanese, Italians and French.

Americans were the most polite and Italians the most adventurous eaters.
Jake1 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,121
I think the Mirror's polling results are just weird. Rude Brits and Canadians? That certainly hasn't been my experience. Maybe it has something to do with the Mirror's distinction between rudeness and impoliteness, which in my dictionary mean almost the same thing.

Italians are adventurous eaters? If they are so adventurous, why is it so rare to find good food of other cultures/countries in Italy?
Jean is online now  

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