I'm often asked if Romans, or people who live in Rome, ever stop seeing, or appreciating, the incredible ruins and sights around them.
Here's something I saw today that might go -- partway -- toward answering that question.
Exhibit A: A crowd gathered in Rome. I'd say it's 90-100 percent Italian.
Exhibit B: What they're looking at. (Can't tell? It's one of those street artists who use stencils and spray paint to make pretty cheesy-looking scenes, usually involving some kind of sunset, really quickly. If I weren't feeling particularly expansive today, I'd probably have quotes around the word artists).
But is it more mesmerizing than the other sights that you could see from the very same spot?
So: Let's be honest. The Italians here had probably seen the forum and Colosseum a million times. That neat trick with the stencils, though, that's something new. (Well, newer than 2,000 years old).
Which, of course, raises an interesting point. No matter how beautiful, old, and important, those sights you see every day do, at least sometimes, lose out in the fight for your attention. Even against the most gimmicky of distractions.