Ciao amici. I have been in Rome for the past 15 glorious days. I decided that I would give myself about two weeks to get acclimated before I formed any sort of definite opinion about the city and its people. As you can see from my greeting, I am in love.
I was warned hundreds of times before my departure to be aware of the culture shock that I was sure to encounter. Maybe I’m just more laid back or have the ability to acclimate to different environments easier than others. The transition between American and Roman life was, what I thought, as close to seamless as you can get. The hardest part for me was kicking the jet-lag.
Since being here I have fallen in love with the Italian way of life. I can’t quite explain exactly what it is, but all I can say is that I haven’t felt this much at home in quite some time. While the Italians are kind, understanding and very helpful (I am spotted as a foreigner in .02 seconds flat, as if I have “SONO AMERICANA” tattooed on my forehead) they are also, I have learned from recent events, quite hysterical. This past weekend Rome saw the most snow that they have had in close to 30 years. As a New Englander, I saw the pitiful 2.5 inches as a dusting. The Romans saw it as a paralyzing monstrosity. For the whole weekend the city was at a standstill. No public transportation, snow and ice everywhere. I’m sure everyone living in NYC or Boston or any other metropolitan area knows the huge street sweepers? Well some genius over here decided that since Rome doesn’t own an army of plows, those were the next best thing. All they managed to do, however, was spit mounds of slush at the pedestrians walking by. And that’s not the best part, I’ve seen desperate drivers pouring bottles of water on their car in freezing air, store owners cracking up ice with gardening tools and even trying to sweep it away with brooms. Something that is so elementary to us in the majority of the US, causes wide-spread panic to a culture that is convinced of its Mediterranean climate. So much so that they refuse to install permanent heating units in their homes and schools. By the way, I’m wearing three pairs of socks, two sweaters and a scarf as I write this during siesta.
The one thing I was most excited to learn while here is the Italian language. I was surprised when I came here and I was among the few who could speak quite well. My roommate Andrea is also Italian, from Calabria (Io sono di Lazio). With both our prior knowledge of the language, we make a dynamic Italian speaking duo. Our second night in Rome my friends and I met Gennaro and Giovanni, two men who speak hardly any English. But despite the language barrier we get along great, and continue to go out to dinner and the discos with them and other friends. But, our friendship has allowed us to practice Italian on a regular basis. Yesterday while getting paninis with Giovanni, he told me how much my Italian has improved since I first arrived. Having been only here two weeks, I can’t wait to see where my Italian is a month from now.
This post is getting a little lengthly. Even though I want to write about everything and anything at once, I will save some for another time. A presto tutti!