I personally never knew anyone who had “lived” in Rome… well not until a few years ago.
And now I’m that someone’s friend, cousin, neighbour, sister who ‘lives in Rome’.
I’m proud to take people around my city and experience all the sights, tastes and sounds..
I do need to brush up on my historical facts and art history (or perhaps channel that history major that I did many moons ago!) BUT – I surprise even myself with some of the trivia or quirky facts I know about the city… The stuff you can’t be taught or read about in a history text but a series of tales collected over many years by talking to locals, things I’ve been told by the odd tour guide, things I’ve noted myself and sometimes even just a bit of hearsay (which of course, is very Italian!).
I guess I also take for granted, the amount of time I’ve spent here in Italy and particularly in Rome and have found it to be a beautiful thing seeing the city through the excited eyes of the friends and family I’ve hosted in the past couple of weeks, here for their first time.
It’s quite rewarding actually when you can have conversation upon conversation about a city and have the ability to feed their fascination about what it’s really like to live in one of the great big cities of the world and to be able to confidently answer the questions that I as a tourist asked many years ago
Things like :
- What the main must see sites and monuments are and importantly, the best way to see them. And what day trips are easily done from the city.
- What SPQR means… Walking around Rome it’s hard not to notice the letters SPQR everywhere. In fact it only takes a one-time sighting to then see that the city is covered with the inscription – on public bins, on monuments, official documents, on drains, on the road, you name it. The letters stand for the latin phrase Senatus Populusque Romanus which translates to the The Senate and People of Rome and is the official emblem of the city. However what you may not know is that hearsay is that in the north, the Milanese (the people of Milan, with whom which a strong rivalry exists – think Sydney vs Melbourne but times 100!) like to say that it stands for Sono Porci Questi Romani (The Romans are pigs!).
- There is a third Metro (subway) under construction – la Metro C – but project works keep being halted because the further they dig, the more ancient underground ruins they find.
- Being able to guide someone exactly where they need to go off hand or by one look at their crumpled tourist map.
- There is hardly a trattoria in Rome that doesn’t have a picture of Alberto Sordi stuffing his face with spaghetti in the 1954 hit, An American in Rome. When this last surviver of the golden age of Italian cinema died, there was an unprecedented outpouring of grief with Romans apparently crying in the streets in the lead up to his state funeral.
- There are two Italian league Serie A teams in the region: Lazio and AS Roma. But in this city – there exists only one team and you guessed it! When Roma are playing at home – Stadio Olimpico – this city comes alive. Even if you’re not anywhere near the stadium, bars and pubs are full of Romanisti and you can hear the cheers for a goal scored for miles. There isn’t just a rivalry that exists between the two teams – it’s a pure hatred. Soccer is seriously a religion in Italy.
- Where to go for designer shopping or where to go for high street or discount shopping and store closing hours.
- That approximately €100K per year is drained from the Trevi Fountain and that this apparently goes to local charities and towards maintaining the restoration of the fountain.
- The absolute ridicule that is Italian politics! Like the extremist political party Lega Nord who want to divide the north and south of Italy and create what is known as padana – literally a scattering of 2-3 northern regions including Lombardia and Veneto and claim this as the real Italy!
- The fact that Carabinieri (Italian police) are dressed top to toe by Armani. I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of them with some friends recently and we asked them if this is true. Their response was, ‘Ma certo. Siamo Italiani, no?’ (Of course it’s true. We’re Italian aren’t we??’
- Parking habits – the rule is, there is no rule! Anything goes. Park your car on an angle, sideways – however it fits really. And many people leave their handbrake down, so that another car can just bump you if the space is too tight to get out!
Ok, that’s all for now people!
Signing off from Trastevere,