Visiting friends will often ask if the numbers of visitors bother Romans. An understandable assumption . . . but truth be told, visitors, whether religious pilgrims for most of the city’s history or tourists more recently, are just as much a part of the city as any of the monuments or piazze.
Granted, Romans will steer clear of any restaurant with a menu in 7 languages, but there are hardly any places not frequented by visitors. Actually, their absence would be strange.
A lovely example of a Roman gracefully handling visitors? A friend was on her cell (speaking in English) when she noticed a obviously lost gaggle of nuns nonchalantly milling about. As soon as she was done, a nun came over and in a lovely thick Irish accent asked, “Excusemedear, might you be so kind as to point us in the general direction of Saint Mary McGuire?”
Needless to say, there is no St.Mary McGuire in Rome, but she thought hard and fast and realized that the good nun had phonetically but adorably de-interpreted (!?) the name.
“Umm . . . Saint Mary McGuire is just down the street,” she answered, having understood that they were in fact looking for Santa Maria Maggiore.