Why Does Ancient Rome Make Me Want To Die

Since antiquity, Rome has been known as the eternal city – a place of grandeur and decadence, of cobblestoned streets, antiquity and awe-inspiring monuments, each exuding its glimpse of the Roman Empire. As one of the most influential cities of the world, ancient Rome has made an indelible mark on global culture, from the language and laws to the customs and cuisine. However, for the modern day traveler to the city, the vastness of Rome can seem completely overwhelming – leaving you feeling more and more disconnected from the “real” Rome.

Rome is a city of immense proportions, sprawling across 17 centuries of history. It’s a city that can take your breath away, with its wide boulevards, ancient monuments and churches, grand piazzas and glowing sunsets that cast pink streaks across the Tiber river. But this grandeur also comes with a price – it can make you feel small and insignificant in comparison. You feel disconnected from the real Rome, the Rome beneath the ancient wall and cobblestones and can easily become confused and frustrated by its scale and chaos.

As a traveler, it’s hard not to get lured in by the city’s abundant beauty and grandness. But there are still certain aspects of ancient Rome that make me want to die. Firstly, it’s overcrowded – while some spots like the Pantheon, Colosseum and Trevi Fountain are must-sees, they’re often packed with tourists, making it difficult to really sink into the city. And then there’s the pollution – the air quality in Rome often surpasses the recommended safety levels, making the city difficult to explore without becoming overwhelmed.

Furthermore, the city is expensive. While there are many budget-friendly options for lodging, food and transportation, getting around Rome can cost a significant amount of money. It’s also quite difficult to navigate its often confusing network of roads and narrow alleyways. Even when you think you’ve found the place you’ve been looking for, it’s easy to get lost again.

Overall, ancient Rome can make me want to die for more reasons than I can count. No matter how beautiful the city is with its 21 centuries in history, grand art and architecture, and vibrant culture, it can still seem intimidating and overwhelming. Especially for first-time visitors, it can be difficult to take in the city in a holistic way without becoming emotionally drained.

The Language Barrier

Another factor that can make me want to die in Ancient Rome is the language barrier. As an English speaker, it’s hard to communicate effectively in Rome, with the majority of locals speaking Italian or Latin. This language barrier can often lead to misunderstandings both when trying to find your way around the city, as well as when trying to find a good restaurant or shop. It can be intimidating trying to find your way around a city where you don’t understand the locals, or even the signs.

Lack of Greenery

The sense of disconnection I feel in Rome is only made worse by the lack of greenery in the city. Rome is a sprawling metropolis, but there are few public parks and green spaces to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. This lack of greenery can make me feel cooped up and and closed in, unable to take a break from the overwhelming urban landscape.

Cultural Disconnect

Lastly, I find the disconnect between the ancient and modern cultures to be quite draining in Rome. Despite its long history, Rome’s culture often feels superficial, like the locals don’t quite connect to it in any meaningful way. Various types of tourist experiences, like horse-drawn carriages and reenactments of famous events, only add to the sense of disconnection. It’s hard to feel connected to Rome when you feel like you’re surrounded by tourists must-sees and superficial culture.

Living in the Moment

Despite these challenges, I still find myself drawn to the city’s ancient beauty. One of the best ways to capture the essence of Rome is to ignore the crowds and the chaos, and just take a few moments to appreciate its history and grandeur. Rome can provide a complete sensory experience like no other – a chorus of people speaking a different language, the Gladiators’ Coliseum rising up from the ground, the Tiber river winding its way around the city – it’s the perfect place to experience the beauty of the moment and to explore the past.

A Focus on History

But when it comes to exploring Rome, it’s important to remember that it’s a city steeped in history, and you should focus on immersing yourself in that. A great way to do this is to visit some of Rome’s iconic sites, such as the Colosseum, the Forum and the Pantheon, and to research their histories and significance. Learning the history behind these iconic monuments can help you to appreciate their grandeur and beauty in a different way, and to understand what makes them so special.

Seeking Out Off-The-Beaten-Path Experiences

To truly explore Rome, seek out the lesser-known spots. Rome is a city of hidden gems, with street corners and alleyways lined with vibrant graffiti and hip restaurants. Spend some time wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere and grabbing a bite to eat – it’s the best way to get to know a city. Before you know it, you’ll graduate from tourist to local, exploring and experiencing the city on your own terms!

Geeking Out Over Ancient Sites

One of the best experiences in Rome is simply geeking out over all the amazing ancient sites. Rome has a wealth of sites that are often overlooked, from the Temple of Hercules Victor to the Borghese Gallery. While you should definitely prioritize the popular sites, it’s also worth taking some time to explore these lesser-known attractions, which will be far less crowded. Seeing these ancient ruins and galleries can bring a sense of awe and appreciation of just how much there is to explore in Rome.

A City Worth Exploring

Overall, while a visit to ancient Rome can sometimes make me want to die, it’s still a city worth exploring. Rome is steeped in history and grandeur, and by exploring its off-the-beaten-path spots, getting lost in its narrow alleyways, and geeking out over its ancient sites, Rome can quickly become your new favorite city. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why should one be able to explore it in a day?

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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