Muses of backpacking the globe and other activites of a few outdoor, travel, and adventure loving urbanites. Including travel info on locals we've been to.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Ugly American

Pale faces, eager eyes, a sense of enjoyment, adventure, independence. Americans in Rome are as omnipresent as Pizzerias and motorini (mopeds). In the center of the city they're catered to as if they were personally invited to come. Some restaurants have an english menu. Bars play American pop music and show college basketball on satellite television. T-shirts are sold with American phrases written on the back. You can even get a budweiser and a hot dog from a street vendor.

Day-by-day and week-by-week new people cross the pond to envelope themselves in the vast complexity that defines Roman culture. They come for the monuments. They come for the bars. They come for the women, the men, the language, the food. In an odd way they come to say that they came.

We get a bad rap here. Sometimes it's deserved and sometimes not. The problem is that we behave as if life outside of the US exists without consequences. Americans often take the "When in Rome..." attitude a little too far. We do things that we'd never dream of doing back home. We drink in the streets, urinate in public, litter, and mock Italians in their own country, Romans in their own city.

Not all of us, however, are like that. Some of us revere the same culture that others mock. Some of us get swept away in the romance and blissful chaos of the Roman atmosphere. Some of us stand breathless in front of the Pantheon, gaze humbly at St. Peter's Basilica, and marvel at the fortitude and longevity of the Coloseum.

I use the term "we" because no matter what type of visitor you are, good or bad, to Romans you're just American. We're a nation of 250 million people, but to them we're but a single entity. We all represent the ugly American. Ugly or not, I'm always going to be who I am. I'm always going to be an American. If others choose to label me that's their business. The best I can do is stay true to my beliefs, respect those around me, and respect the culture I live in. After all, incincerity is the ugliest sin of them all


At 8:44 PM , Anonymous TJ said...

If the parlance or label for Americans is The Ugly A...

What is the parlance for other countries

the ... european

the ... asian

nice piece needs more breadth


At 1:15 AM , Blogger Andy said...

First of all, if this is my Dad, TOM....GFY!!!, translate that little coloquialism with someone younger than 40.

Secondly, it's either the "gay" or "shitty tipping" european...

...the "bad driving", "worse english speaking", asian....

...and while we're at it, "stingy Jew", "greasy Italian", "drunken Mic.", "polack", "camel jockey"...

This is not an article about racial stereotypes. This is an article about how Americans behave in Rome, Italy. If you see that they behave differently here, I encourage you to document it and tell me about it.

Better yet, stay tuned like a good backpacker and read my next post. This one's about immigration v. tourism and who benefits. Or, send me an article on the ....european, the ....asian, or the .....blog critic.

Alla proximo tempo segnore,


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