Rome is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. At least a lot of people think it is. I’m not sure I see it. I mean… unless we’re speaking about the Coliseum or the Vatican and all the other monuments, then we should think again. I love this city. It takes a while to make you fall in love but when you do, you fall hard. Before you attack me for my lack of appreciation of all things rusty and ancient, let me remind you that it’s one thing to visit a place for a couple of weeks and a whole other story to be stuck there for five years – in my case. Here’s the trouble with Roma Capitale:
Unlike Paris or London and other European metropolitan cities, the Eternal City’s transportation system is terrible.
This is the first thing on my love hate list. In Italy’s biggest city it takes you at least an hour thirty minutes to get anywhere. It’s fun and fly when you’re on your honeymoon and you’re ooing and aahing at every broken tower on your way, but when you’re single and you have to get to work… whatever. Imagine having to get a bus that passes by every twenty minutes, so you can get one that goes through the crossroad every ten minutes, followed by a tram that leaves every seven minutes (all of which don’t keep to time), to walk for another twelve minutes when you get off. That’s what most people have to do to reach a place they would get to in 13 minutes on the express way. Note how I never use kilometres to express distance? It’s because the distance doesn’t matter. The world we live in today has demands that need to be met. Time is expensive and spending it sitting on a crowded bus is a sad waste.
Forget about the car, it won’t work either.
So just get a small car, you might say. Well meant yet useless advice. There are 4.3 million people living in Rome. The traffic is crazy and you’ll never find a parking spot. Been there, done that. After driving at snail speed, you try to fit your Smart car into a tiny space between a pick-up and a tour bus, you end up leaving your car at some strange lopsided angle and paying the one euro fifty per hour ticket fee which by the way you are required to pay on every street corner, every parking lot and every hole. Unless you’re Berlusconi’s relative, you don’t want to spend twelve euros everyday on parking tickets just because you’re at work typing away while looking over your shoulder to see if the Carabinieri have surrounded your car like a committee of vultures.
The roads are revolting.
Are we still on that? Apparently we are. It doesn’t help that I suffer from severe Trypophobia of course, but look down whenever you’re walking in Rome and fight the urge not to freak out over the cracks and swollen bumps in the roads. And I mean, everywhere. Even the best streets have that ugly cracky thing at some point. I asked around, as I always do, and it seems Romans have a common theory concerning the bad roads. According to most people, the organizations that paved the streets were (are?) run by the Mafia, so trust a shody job to get done. Would that explain why the roads go crazy every two years and why the streets of Northern cities are decent in comparison? Then there’s the issue of cars having to transform into submarines whenever it rains.
“Ciao! Buongiorno! Eeee! Mannaggia alla Miseria!” People in Rome seem to think there’s an audience and they have to shout Pavarotti style to be heard by it. The sudden screams will threaten to throw you off your seat. It’s the first difference you’ll notice between the Milanese and the Romans. Milan residents whisper like fairies and elves, while Romans shout like gladiators. It takes a while to get used to, I think. I still haven’t.
The Pickpockets, Armed Robbers, Thieves, and ‘Kind People’…
After my wallet and documents got stolen one fateful afternoon by pickpockets, my brand new (at the time) Samsung was up next by a hooded man with a knife. Was that punishment for not getting the iPhone instead? I wonder. While I moped and cried, my colleagues apartment was getting obliterated by thieves. T.V, clothes, shoes, cutlery… heck, even soap, was completely cleaned out. They are so good at it, it’s almost as if there’s a school they graduated from. The School of Focus? Then there are the kind women who stand by the ticket machines at every train station to help you buy your ticket. They know you probably booked your flight ticket with your iPad, and your train ticket is a code you purchased on the Trenitalia app, but still they have this impression that you’ll need help buying a five euro ticket to Naples and while your busy sending one away, the other has your wallet, your portfolio, your… you.
I’m still yet to discover if this is a Roman or an Italian problem.
But everything else is tolerable
If you don’t mind any of these things, this is the perfect place for you to live. If you’re able to find an apartment at a reasonable price, that is. Good luck with that!