Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Roman or Romanian? Will the true gladiator stand up?

We can't help but get a chuckle out of those guys hanging outside the Coliseum, persuading (amazingly enough, often successfully) tourists to pay to have their photos taken with them. Guess they're centurions, tho' everyone calls them gladiators, and, whatever, they add to the local color.

But this year they also added to the Roman/Romanian debate. Turns out there is territory to be protected and with tourism down, the pie to be divided is smaller. Today's Romans solicit business outside not only the Coliseum but other places, like Castel Sant'Angelo (Hadrian's Castle)--where the photo above was taken.

And, the Roman centurions decided it was un... well, unRoman, for Romanians to be horning in on their business. The Romanians were taking up positions outside Castel Sant'Angelo, leaving the Coliseum to the "Romans" (and how "Roman" are they, one could ask?).

All this can seem a bit silly, when Italians often complain the Romanians don't engage in legitimate businesses and um.... that they're not really "Romans". Romanians, on the other hand, claim a special tie to Rome, going back to Trajan (conqueror of Dacia, present-day Romania) and, of course, to their related Latin language. The tourists, of course, can't tell the difference.

So should we care? Let the games begin.

Dianne - for more on the Romanian immigrant presence, see Bill's post.

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