Many expats in Rome have their favourite “overheard question” asked of the city’s tour guides. Wanted in Rome asked three Rome-based tour guides to describe the most unusual questions they have faced.
Scots-Italian tour guide Al Mariotti once entered into a memorable conversation after being asked: “What about Michelangelo?”
Mariotti: “What about him?”
Tourist: “Whatever happened to him?”
Mariotti: “Well, he died.”
Tourist: “Oh my God that's awful, when?”
Another time, facing St Peter’s Basilica, Mariotti was asked “Who are they on that church?”
Mariotti: “They are the twelve apostles, Sir.”
Tourist: “But there's thirteen of ‘em.”
Mariotti: “Well Sir, they are the 12 apostles plus...”
Tourist’s wife interrupts: “...It's JC, honey!”
Tourist: “What? Why would Julius Caesar be with 12 apostles?”
Shane Harnett, a freelance tour guide from Ireland, has been asked the identity of the pope’s wife as well as where the tomb of Jesus could be found in Rome.
However, the most surprising question asked of him came from an elderly Italian tourist who had been living in the US for 60 years. Out of earshot from his children and grandchildren the man took Harnett aside and asked "Hey, you know anywhere I can find a whore?"
Jimmy Kennedy of Roman Empire Tours is quick to list his five favourite questions.
“If this is the Sistine Chapel, where are the other 15 chapels?”
“Why would they build the Colosseum right beside a Metro Stop?”
“If you are from Ireland, how long does it take you to get to the Colosseum every morning?”
“What country are the Swiss Guards from?”
“How did Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel? Did he just stand on the floor and use a really long paint brush?”