Let’s just say it’s been an eye opener dealing with the transition of holidaying in Italy to living in Italy.
Firstly the change of pace (and season!) Having to get used to NOT waking up every day and going to the beach! In fact, NOT waking up in a hotel! NOT going out for dinner every night! NOT going shopping (well, real shopping!) every single day!
So in the space of a few weeks, I’ve gone from:
Chartering a boat => Leasing an apartment
- Shopping at Zara, Furla, Max Mara => Shopping at the supermarket
- Carrying a beach bag => Carrying supermarket shopping bags
- Eating out in restaurants and trattorias around the country => Dealing with an oven that doesn’t work (more about that later!)
- Spending time with family and friends => Being new to a city with 1 real friend (ok maybe 2-3.. if you want to count the rental agent, shopkeeper, pharmacist, hairdresser, beauty therapist, etc that I’ve met… again more about that at a later stage!)
- Taking photos like a tourist => Being asked by tourists to take photos of them
The first major thing that I had to deal with was to find an apartment. While this wasn’t all that easy, it actually didn’t take too long. Given I was only looking for a 3 month lease, I wasn’t really presented with much choice. Most of the reasonable options in Rome (re location, cost, size, etc) are only available for minimum 1 year lease. So I had about 3 to choose from. On the night I decided to finally bite the bullet and take this great apartment, I was told by the agent that it had been snapped up that very morning. So I just had to grin and bear his ‘I told you so’ and ‘I told you they go quickly’ tone and look. Luckily enough, another apartment came up that week. After inspecting it though, and feeling that it was a bit ‘small’ (quaint as I now like to call it) I told the agent that I would sleep on it.
That night I was having dinner with a couple of friends (one who has been living here for about 5 years, the other almost 10) and with what must have been a pessimistic description they thought that I must’ve just viewed the worst apartment option in Rome. They looked at the pics, looked at each other, then looked at me in disbelief and stated in unison, ‘You MUST take this apartment – ring the agent NOW!’ And that’s exactly what I did. I quickly came to realise that I’d thankfully made the right decision.
So here I am – in my very own apartment in Rome. My apartment is in the heart of the heart of Trastevere! It’s in the most amazing location. If you know Piazza Trilussa (the first piazza of Trastevere you see when you cross the Tevere… near Isola Tiberina) you’ll know how to find me – I’m only a few minutes walk from there. In fact, I’m literally a few minute walk to all the main piazza’s and attractions in Trastevere (will post something to give you a feel for the area at a later stage).
It was such a great feeling to actually unpack and pack my suitcase away and out of sight! Have settled in nicely despite a few teething problems (which were of course to be expected). Problemini (Italians like to make all words cute and little!) which I’m told will all be sorted this week! This week could mean anything – Roman time rarely corresponds with the rest of the worlds!
For example, my stove is working, but the oven isn’t! My agent delivered a brand new TV to me about 2 weeks ago but the wall cable socket doesn’t work, so the TV can’t be tuned! To which, the agent says ‘It’s really not a big deal – you’re not missing out on much.. Italian TV ain’t that great!!‘ Well guess what?? I’ll be the judge of that!!
The fridge is nowhere near cold enough. But… the freezer is too cold and I have ice in abundance! I have access to the roof terrace of the apartment… if only the agent or the landlord could find the right key to open the terrace door!!
It’s pretty common knowledge that rules, order, promises and regulations don’t hold much weight here in Italy. But wait for it… the agent then tells me that I must recycle all waste (separate bags for food scraps, cardboard, paper, glass, aluminium, plastic – the list goes on!) and that apparently Romans and the Comune di Roma (Council) take this extremely seriously – penalties for failure to comply and all! Really?? Um ok… as seriously as they corruptly collect circa 100K Euro a year from the Trevi fountain which supposedly goes towards the restoration of the monument?? I mean, Italians don’t follow road rules, have absolutely no etiquette with respect to queuing for services yet they are anal about recycling! I find this somewhat strange and oh everyone is talking about it – La differenziale (recycling) … you could not be serious!
Sounds frustrating? Negative? I know… The strange thing though? I love Rome more than ever… there is still not one thing (at the moment!) that could make me hate the place! I mean, how can you?? Rome is just a beautiful and amazing city. Steeped in a 2,500+ year history that I – from a country a mere 200 years young – cannot even begin to comprehend. Her monuments, churches, fountains, Renaissance palaces are amazing and at any time of the year, still breathtaking to me.
It’s a modern, bustling and lively city and has excellent food and wine, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. The Romans are a breed unto themselves and for the most part (using this term lightly!), a welcoming and friendly people (yes & I know being female has something minor to do with people’s politeness toward me or their immediate embracing.. but hey, who cares!)
So with all that said, nothing puts more of a smile on my face at the moment than being asked ‘Sei qui in vacanza o vivi a Roma?’ ‘Are you holidaying or do you live in Rome?’, to which I smile brightly and proudly say, ‘Si, vivo a Roma!’ ‘Yes, I live in ROME’.
Signing off from Trastevere