So I took the Girlfriend to Rome for six days. No austerity riots to speak of, it all seemed pretty cheerful and orderly, with wealthy middle-aged Romans sharing space with wealthy middle-aged tourists from all over.
We stayed in a comfortable three-star hotel, as usual, and did all the usual tourist stuff. The Girlfriend is becoming a little more comfortable with restaurants in general and of course pizza and spaghetti are one international food that IS widely available in Russia so she at least knew what to expect. She dislikes expensive restaurants; her favorite place to eat was the buffet restaurant at Termini train station. (It is pretty good and cheap, actually.)
I visited Rome during my first backpacking tour, TWENTY FUCKING YEARS ago in 1992, when I was a moody 23-year-old kid with a ponytail. I remember it being more polluted then, and remember being annoyed by an obnoxious Canadian couple who insisted on accompanying me everywhere I went. I actually tried to lose them in the Vatican Museum but they waited for me outside.
Although there were a lot of them in those days, too, backpackers were a more visible lot. Now pretty much everybody wears shorts and carries backpacks.
I also remember there being a lot of porno mags available at all the newstands, which I didn't see this time.
La dolce vita!
Middle-aged tourism with a girlfriend is okay, especially when you're actually middle-aged. (Sometimes I'd see a school group of teenage girls wandering by and I'd have the fleeting evil thought, but it's more of a nostalgic evil thought, rather than an urge, these days.) We were in bed by eleven, most nights.
Sight-seeing holidays tend to be a little more difficult than beach holidays because the Girlfriend always gets dehydrated; she won't drink enough water because she refuses to use pubic toilets in general, that's how feminine she is.
I liked the way Rome hid its McDonald's and chain clothing outlets behind historic facades. That's definitely the way to do it.