4 years in Rome. Has living here changed me?
This week I celebrated my 4 year Rome anniversary.
These are the moments in life, the milestones, if you like, where you stop for a minute and reflect.
Rome has changed me. Depending on perspective, in a very positive way.
Yes, change is a part of life. As people, we constantly change, we grow, we evolve.
Still, when family or friends back home jokingly say to me, “You’ve changed!” or “You’ve been living in Italy for too long!”, I sometimes get defensive. And here’s why.
I’ve never really been scared of change before, but I confess that when moved away from Australia, my family and friends, the word change took on new meaning for me. I kind of took it to mean, letting go of what I knew, what I loved and in a sense, my comfort zone. But the more time I spent here, the more I became entrenched in roman life, I started to find my feet and confidence. And I became much more conscious of the fact that this change would be the vehicle and foundation for my success and survival in this town.
And so I started to embrace it. For someone who has grown up in Australia, Rome and Italy present many challenges. While I was born into a migrant Italian family and a love for all things Italian is inherent and part of my DNA, we are undeniably culturally different. But this is what has always been the pull; in a sense, the drug for me.
So how exactly have I changed? A few recent experiences have made me reflect.
One in particular involves a good friend (you know who you are) from Melbourne contacting me after having travelled through a few months ago. She’d left a set of quite expensive headphones on an Alitalia flight.
The first thoughts that crossed my mind: 1) Alitalia (the airline has lifted its game of late, but ain’t winning any customer relations awards too soon); 2) Fiumicino (my heart sings when I land here, but often sinks when I head to the bathrooms or am waiting a ridiculous amount of time waiting for my luggage – nonetheless, things are improving here too!); 3) Two recent airport fires (yes, not one, but two recent fires in the airport terminals have just about crippled the airport that doesn’t work all that well on a good day!); and 4) It’s August.
These four obstacles had me concerned. Very concerned.
The last one really had me thinking.
I recently had some friends and family in town (it’s peak season for me with visitors!) and August in Italy isn’t just a month, but quite often a nuisance!
I found myself receiving resistance and strange looks when I’d explain that August in Italy was, “You know, like Melbourne in January. Everything kinda closes for a bit.”
Well no, it doesn’t actually. I think I’ve just been caught up in the Italian way of life. Because no other country in the world comes to a screeching halt in summer like Italy does. I think I take things that perhaps weren’t the norm for me before, completely in my stride now.
And I’m the first to admit – Italy and the way things are ’round here, are fairly difficult to understand if you’re not Italian or you don’t live here.
A simple, “Can you just go and grab my headphones from the airport“, turns into a mission impossible slash Amazing Race-type race against time. Against the entire bureaucratic system. Against the Italian psyche.
Well, for your information, we did get them back and I found myself laughing on the inside as I explained to said friend, “It’s an international, Italian bureaucratic miracle that I’ve managed to recover your headphones.”
For a minute, the incident actually restored my faith in Italy!
It’s not that things don’t work (yes a lot of things don’t, or not well.. but by the same token, a hell of a lot of things work very – no, fantastically well). It’s just, different… very different.Have I become too Italian? Well I don’t think such a thing exists but if it does, well then, “Yes. 100 times, yes!”.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again.
My love affair with Italy started when I was 16: over 20 years ago. Maybe some love affairs really do last forever.
Thank you everyone for reading and following this crazy journey. You make HeartRome mean so much more to me every, single day.
My love, my life, my Rome. I’m not sure I could ever live without you.
Happy 4 years to me!
Signing off from Trastevere