I've been in Italy the last couple of days and made a swooping visit through Rome. The ancient city, and the whole of Italy for that matter, is blessed with the image created by its empirical ancestors and romanticised by Hollywood in the mid-twentieth century. The only trouble here is that I must be the only person who genuinely dislikes Rome and I'd even go as far as hate - and I rarely hate anything - but whenever I cast my critical ways on the city, I'm lambasted by people who claim their allegiance for pasta, espresso and sunglasses. I can understand your average tourist who's in and out of the city for a holiday, but I've lived in Rome and have known the supposed-dolce vita since birth and I ask myself every time I'm in the capitol, am I the only one who's seeing graffiti on every possible surface you could imagine? Not even to say it's good graffiti, in a Berlin-New York way - but for some juvenile's tag to be placed on ancient monuments and every street wall within and out of the city walls absolutely infuriates me. Italy in general has a very serious social problem that stems from political instability and depending on what region you're in, varying inflated egos.
While travelling northwards on the train into Stazione di Roma Termini, all the carriages were full of protestors heading to the city to march for educational rights. Protests are a common occurrence right across Italy, happening weekly if not daily in major cities and since they are rarely broadcast out of the country, Italy's stigma of social oppression is never seen when it's in the shadows of Roman Holiday or Gladiator. The government is not ignoring this problem for millions of Euros are spent on cleaning graffiti off important landmarks only for it to be re-tagged a few days later, so I was surprised to find on Termini's concourse a place for Italians to express themselves legally. It was fascinating to find the revolving advertising columns that usually feature Italian fashion campaigns, covered in a vinyl sheath: a blank canvas for revolutionaries and youth alike. I'm more than aware I will come across as scathing in this post, and I'm all for expression, but the problem is not the graffiti or the protesting, but the shear reason people feel the need to vandalise and march in the first place. Behind every social problem is a problem of the State that fails to see through the veil of power and I'm afraid to say Italy is one of the worst countries in Europe to suffer from this blindness. I encourage anyone to visit Rome - it's a city that is unlike any other in the world with a rich history and culture that is sold across the globe which you must see through your own eyes - I just hope the scrawls of anger are limited to columns of expression like the one above. And before you ask, yes some kid will tag the very top of the column and you'll know about it in big, bright, badly drawn letters.