It does sound like your redirects are not being picked up and there are two things that you should check.
Firstly, I assume from your post that you are unpacking all the magento files into the root directory for your site instead of a magento directory. If you unpack all the files into a /magento directory in the root of your site, for example, then you need to set the RewriteBase option in the .htaccess file to match. So if you have a /magento directory, the RewriteBase option should also be /magento/
If that is fine, then perhaps your configuration does not allow the .htaccess file to override the system configuration to turn on the Rewrite Engine. The easiest solution to this, is to add the AllowOverride All to the directory where your site is served from. For example, with your files in /users/home/romanceculture/web/public you should add something like this to the configuration of your apache host:
You may already have options for this directory so just add the AllowOverride directive to them. Often the system default is AllowOverride None.