Question and answer time again!
Jewel want so know 'what are the working hours like in Rome?'
Working hours in Rome depend what type of employment you have. Most shops here tend to open at 10:00am and close at 8:00pm. These days very few shops in the centre of Rome close for the lunch time. Some of the smaller, family run shops will close for a few hours, as do a lot of the smaller shops outside of the city walls, but most in the centre will remain open.
Office hours in Rome differ from company to company, but they tend not to be too different from the UK or Australia. Most people head into work from about 8.30am and leave anywhere from 5pm onwards.
When I worked in Taormina last year nearly everything closes for the lunch period with only a chemist, restaurants and tourist shops being open from 13:00 - 16:00 (well these hours were very flexible. Some people used to close and never open again, some would shut at 12:00 and open again at 18:00 - it was anything goes in Taormina.)
Jewel has also asked 'Apart from pick pockets, is it safe for a girl to travel on her own there or go out at night?'
This is a good question and the answer is YES. Rome is a safe city as long as you use common sense. Italy in fact is a very safe place for solo travellers. I travelled for the first time by myself for 4 weeks in Italy a few years ago. I had friends with me for the first two weeks but for the last 4 weeks I travelled around all on my own and felt very safe.
No one else has asked any specific questions so I will answer questions that my guests all ask me. Some may seem rather foolish, but they are sadly commonly asked questions.
Do Italian women not sweat? This is such a common stupid question! Really...My female customers always tell me that they see flawless looking Italian women walking around in their suits and stiletto's in the peak of summer without shedding as much as a drop of sweat. I will let you in on the secret. These Italian women do not take public transport. The do not walk around the city for hours on end in the midday heat. Most probably they drive to work, or are dropped off at work and the furthest they walk is outside to have a cigarette, or maybe they cross the road to get a coffee.
Why don't Italians speak Spanish? Spain it seems is the preferred holiday destination for the British. Parts of Spain have become a mini Britain, just with better weather. A lot of my guests know a few Spanish words, and like to use them in Italy. They then get shocked or rather offended when the Italians look at them like they are crazy. Bel ragazzo used to get so annoyed in the hotel when English guests would speak to him in Spanish as 1) He does not speak Spanish 2) He speaks fluent English so if you cannot speak to him in Italian, at least address him in the language you both seem to speak 3) Spanish is not the same as Italian. So many guests do not seem to comprehend that Spanish is one language and Italian is another. Yes, they are similar but they are not the same.
Any other questions? If not I have plenty of foolish questions to share with you. Here's a little taste of questions to come, thanks to my silly customers. Do Italians only eat piazza and pasta? Italians eat so much garlic why do they not smell? Can I do a day trip to Sicily from Rome?