Since we have been traveling in Italy we have noticed a pattern that we've run into many times. People keep invading our personal space... and this time I'm not talking about pickpockets. Italians, Russions, Arabs, and especially the Chinese just get in our way and in our faces... literally.
Today, on Palatine Hill for instance... we were sitting on a wall taking a drink break when some Russians sat to my right. Within a couple of minutes I became invisible to the guy next to me. Talking to his wife about the view to our left, he started pointing to it with his finger gesticulating about an inch in front of my right eye. Really? This went on for an uncomfortable 20 seconds or so... I was just getting ready to push his arm away when he took his hand down.
And you know when you're strolling in a crowd of people and a sort of natural right of way happens? You steer right of the oncoming person and they do the same... somehow you avoid each other. Nothing spoken. No directional signals. It just happens effortlessly.
Well, not here. I can't tell you how many times at the last second I realized the person is going to walk right into me... then I have to move very abruptly so they don't hit me. Lisa described it perfectly... they are like the zombies in Lucas' Minecraft game... walking without purpose or a way of seeing what they are about to crash into. It's as if they really don't see me. This is especially true when said zombie is glued to her cell phone or when gabbing with another zombie. The odd thing is how this will even happen in a broad, uncrowded piazza. You stroll across minding your own business, see someone strolling toward you, shift your path slightly and then notice they've shifted slightly and are aiming right at you. It's as if they have no peripheral vision or no vision at all.
Just today, while on line in the Colosseum gift shop, an Arabian looking man was pushing behind me as we were getting closer to the register. Too close... and no crowd behind pushing him. He was just a pusher. I had to step around Lucas for a second to hand the cashier money when he then moved in on Lucas... physically pushing his body into Lucas as if to speed things along! Imagine any adult invading a child's personal space like that! I very strongly took my hand and shoved his chest away from Lucas with a loud "Scusi"! At last, he backed off.
This sort of line shoving happens all the time... waiting on lines and taking your turn mean nothing here. Many have simply shoved us out of the way to get ahead. I recall at the Roman Baths in Pompeii where we had to take turns viewing a beautiful chamber--the frigidarium. Taking turns is pretty normal for us in the U.S. but not here. There were some especially pushy Italian and Chinese tourists that literally shoved us out of the way even though we were waiting on an ad hoc line--trying to take a turn to take a photo in a gated doorway not wide enough for even two people. Lucas even got shoved! That's when I kicked into gear and made certain he had a turn. A Chinese lady shoved me and I just held my ground (I have a large mass) leading Lucas in front of me. The Italian couple acted as if they were the only people there, barging through at least 8 people waiting in front of them.
Mmmm.... sort of reminds me of how cars kept passing me on the roads on blind curves even though I was going faster than the speed limit...
And then I think about the truly crowded situations where people tend to mass tighter than I'm used to in similar U.S. situations. I mean, here in Italy they will wear puffy jackets on warm days, bundle up with scarves, drink all sorts of digestive waters and medicinal milks, and many won't go onto windy beaches--for fear of catching a draft and getting sick. But yet, they crowd like lemmings spewing their germs on each other rather than backing off a bit to allow someone their spazio personale and some fresh air. And the bulk of the tourists are even worse. Shoving and pushing their way through a major tourist check-list item, just to say they saw the Sistine Chapel, Check. Or the Trevi Fountain, Check. Or the Leaning Tower, Check. Speeding and shoving through sites that years ago used to be done slowly to savor the amazing history or to absorb the art. Years ago I spent hour after hour savoring the Louvre, and went back several times. The visitors seemed to be art lovers, not just tourists. I recall seeing photos decades ago of people with binoculars lying on their backs on the Sistine Chapel floor with loads of room (and time) to ponder. Those years are gone...
It's all becoming too Disney-esque. (Another place I would never go back to).