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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Reis | Travel > Local is lekker

Local is "figo": Michele Cerimele on Rome

Imke van Heerden - 2009-11-04

Michele, tell us about yourself.

Hi, my name is Michele Cerimele. I'm 27 years old, Italian and come from a small village in the centre of Italy called Vinchiaturo. That's where my parents and my brother live. I currently live in Amsterdam where I am doing a Masters in Law. I studied Law in the Faculty of Rome, La Sapienza. For fun, I like reading, travelling, photography and playing tennis and volleyball.

What is your relation to Rome?

Rome is the city where I studied and lived for six years. Those years were very special to me.

Why would you urge tourists to visit Rome? In other words, what distinguishes this city from other Italian as well as world cities?

Rome is a city of breathtaking beauty. No one can doubt its uniqueness. It is incomparable with any other city in the world, given that it shows more than 2 000 years of open-air history! The overall picture is the one of a city of emperors and popes.

Which tourist traps in Rome are worth seeing and which should be avoided?

There's so much to say on this topic! Anyone who travels to Rome should pay a visit to the Sistina Chapel. Although the line can last for hours, Michelangelo's frescos are the most exceptional piece of arts in the city. One thing that should be avoided is the visit to the inside of the Colosseo, given that it does not add anything more to the experience of seeing it from the outside.

If I visited you in Rome, where would you take me that I as a tourist wouldn't have known about? In other words, what and where are the undiscovered jewels of the city?

I would probably take you to San Lorenzo and Pigneto. These used to be two of the city's poorer areas. They are now university neighbours and the hype among students. They are far from the lights of the city centre, but you enjoy a different atmosphere there. As a matter of interest, Pigneto is the area where the great Pierpaolo Pasolini directed the movie Accattone. Many Italian Neorealists choose it as a location for their movies.

When I think of Rome I think of Romulus and Remus, piazzas, ancient ruins, Vespa's, the Vatican, pizza and rude waiters. What are the common misconceptions about Rome?

A common misconception is seeing Rome as the city of "la Dolce Vita", or as the place where locals chase American tourists on Vespa scooters. Almost no one lives in the city centre anymore. Here, there are only offices where people go to work.

A question many a tourist has asked herself: Why are so many Italians rude to tourists?

The character of the average Roman citizen is generally rude and uneducated. Romans think that they are the most intelligent and beautiful creatures on the planet! Rome is, for some reason, a city afraid of losing its culture to the cultural integration that globalisation brings.

What do local young people do in their free time? Where do they hang out?

Romans love going out to dinner, especially in the areas of Trastevere and Testaccio. Even though Italy is going through a deep economic crisis, Rome's restaurants are always full. A very good place to eat is the restaurant Baffetto, which is in Via del Governo Vecchio. Another neighbourhood that is getting more and more popular when it comes to having fun in the city is the Rione Monti. In my opinion, the best club in Rome is the Goa Club, which is located in the area called Ostiense.

What food and drink should tourists sample when they visit Rome? Excluding gelato, pizza and pasta, are there any other indispensable delights?

Gelato and pizza are not at all good in Rome! The traditional Roman food is exquisite, though. Carbonara and Amatriciana pasta sauces are a must.

Furthermore, visitors should not miss the MACRO, the museum of contemporary art.

Which three Italian movies would you say capture the essence of Rome and/or Italy?

Ladri di Biciclette - Vittorio De Sica
Il Marchese del Grillo - Mario Monicelli
Roma Città Aperta - Roberto Rossellini

To a tourist, Roman life looks idyllic. Tell us a bit more about Rome's "dark side".

There are way too many gypsies in Rome. It's one of the city's greatest problems. Unfortunately, there are no policies of integration implemented by the government. As a result, gypsies continue living in trailer towns on the city's outskirts, refusing to integrate.

Are there any interesting trends and traditions in Rome that those unfamiliar with the city would find interesting?

Lovers in Rome tie a lock on a lightpost of the bridge Ponte Mammolo, then throw the key in the river Tevere as a symbol of their love ...

Please give us two phrases that a tourist cannot do without when touring Italy - and one that would greatly impress the locals.

How much does this cost? - Quanto costa?
No, it's too much! - No è troppo!

To impress: You are so cute! - Sei troppo carina/o!

In conclusion, are Italians truly as passionate about life and love as they say?

We are passionate about life indeed! Unfortunately, I am of the opinion that the characteristic Italian enthusiasm has cooled off in recent years due to the recession and the country's social crisis. I really hope that Italy will be able to become a better place to live in the coming years, much like it used to be during the second half of the last century. Then, artists were moving to Italy from all over the world.

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