Miles and Miles of Smiles


Jina’s Blog: The Philippine-Italian Connection

Pinoys and Italians

Filipinos have really connected with Italy. Lots of overseas Filipino workers are based there, and Pinoy tourists flock to Italy in droves.

Perhaps it is because we relate with their culture, because we share a lot in common with Italy. For starters, Pinoys love Italian food. And like Italians, we also have a Catholic heritage that is deeply ingrained in our nation’s culture. The Filipino language, which is heavily influenced by Spanish, bears some resemblance to Italian, and Pinoys will find themselves understanding bits and pieces of Italian vocabulary quite easily. As for the city of Rome, it is neither the safest, nor the cleanest of places, which kind of reminds you of Metro Manila, doesn’t it?

And on top of that, the Italian people have a special charisma. They are warm and hospitable. Have a conversation with an Italian, and you’ll feel like you have been friends forever. They are very family-oriented, and love eating and drinking together. if you are Pinoy, you will find it easy to feel at home there.

Visiting the Vatican

Italy is beautiful year-round, which is why you will run into a million-and-one tourists when you go! Sometimes the crowd can be a downside, but I’ve got some tips for you later in this post.

In 2012 I visited the Vatican and got to see the Sistine Chapel. It was my third time there; but even though I had visited before, it still remained such an awesome place. The way Michelangelo painted the ceiling is really something else. My best description is that the artwork appears to be floating–photos really don’t do the place justice, you have to see it for yourself! Michelangelo must have been really inspired, because you can feel the spirituality in his work. I truly enjoyed my first visit to the Sistine because we were the first people to be allowed in for the day. I don’t know what the tour guide did, but we were the only people inside. It was a beautiful experience. Sometimes, it can be hard to enjoy the place when there is a sea of tourists making noise and constantly taking photos–photography is actually not allowed!

Insider Tips

If you plan to visit the Vatican, it’s a good idea to book a guided tour beforehand. If you go independent of a tour, you might have to wait a long time to get into places like the Sistine Chapel, as the queue gets very long. Tour guides, however, are well-informed about the dynamics of the place. Get one and you could save yourself a lot of time, and possibly a headache! Furthermore, if you have a tight schedule, tour guides help curate the experience, prioritizing places of significance. Remember, the Vatican is filled with things to see, and a day is not enough to take it all in. Local knowledge is helpful.

Also tour guides help keep you safe. We’ve all heard horror stories about pickpockets victimizing unsuspecting tourists. Guides are good at spotting them, so you can feel a bit more at ease as you travel.

I wish that everyone could experience the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, and what Rome and the Vatican have to offer. Catholics and non-Catholics alike are most welcome. You will find Rome and the Vatican to be special places, filled with cultural significance, warm people and delicious food.

Happy travels!