R. O. M. A.

Radix Omnium Malorum Avaritia

Other people's greed was the straw that broke the camel's back in December 2013. The Eternal City (eternally corrupt) for some became 11 years for me when I jumped on a train to Vienna. Final destination? It was in the balance, but Lviv pipped Simferopol at the post. Simferopol, Crimea. Now there's a thought. Bloody-minded avarice in my face every other day was not the only reason why I cut ties with Rome. A woman, a religion, and a desire to develop tourism in Lviv were jockeying for position. Ukraine and corruption go hand in hand, while Italy has a long history of similar subterfuge, but is one better, or worse than the other? Let's have a quick look at Ukraine and then go over old ground in Rome.

In Ukraine, corruption in local government is rife and the same can be said of all business entities large and small. The Militsiya (regular police) expect bribes from the people they are paid to protect. Students must pay regular bribes to pass exams and progress through University to get a degree which isn't worth the paper it's written on. There is no banking ombudsman, every bank works in a different way with a different set of rules. Despite this, Ukrainians have no real interest in further damaging their own country, currently at war with Russia and battling economic meltdown. They accept very low wages (if they have been able to find work at all) and go about their business with a wry smile.

Tales of woe from tourists who have visited Ukraine are rare, they enjoy the full quota of Slavic hospitality which is remarkable in itself when one considers the shocking state of the country, a far cry from the malicious streets of Rome where fleecing tourists is fair game. Fake gladiators mill around the Colosseum looking for victims, master merchants who will fight you for your cash - extortion is the name of their game; taxi drivers - double fares for passengers who speak no Italiano, and the dance of deception goes on. Almost all tourists are vulnerable, carelessness when in Rome a come on for noob pickpockets never mind professional thieves. Even in the safe zone of taking a guided tour, for every reputable Rome tours provider there is tenfold bandits at every turn. What concerns me most, however, is not the seasonal problem of gullible tourists, rather why Rome is brimful of avarice. Greed is as endemic in Rome today as in antiquity, it occupies pride of place in every nook, cranny, alcove and orifice of Roman life. It's a culture, A. W. O. L.

Living in Rome is a prohibitively expensive experience unless you own a tour company. It is for this reason that the city has become a full blown rat race for the majority of it's inhabitants. Most, but not all Romans have a city apartment or place by the sea scot free upon the demise of elderly relatives. For the rest of us, perhaps time for a rethink, perhaps pastures new.

Published on December 7th, 2014
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by Cajes.

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