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In Rome? Consider Going Home

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November 22, 2009 Cultural Musings, Culture & People 2 Comments

With his excellent article about quality of life in Rome, Sebastian Cresswell-Turner (Telegraph, August 2003) has managed to thoroughly depress me. Several years after his article was published, his descriptions still ring true. To build a life in Rome is as difficult as ever, especially if you are a foreigner without family connections.

The attempt at earning a living in Rome feels like trying to catch a shoal of fish with bare hands. It is good to have skills, but if you thought that was enough, you are delusional.

p fashion lady rome In Rome? Consider Going Home

Locals and visitors in Rome

You need luck, connections, charm, and relentlessness. Actually, you need all of these twice. Have you managed to land a job with a local company? Well done. You are now likely earning about half of what you need to live with a minimum of dignity, unless you decide on leading a student life, sharing a flat, and eating home-cooked spaghetti almost every night. In this case your income is not too bad, allowing for a night out at the movies from time to time, as long as you don’t stress about petty luxuries such as holidays, or saving up for your pension.

One of the few ways for you to afford a decent apartment not too far from the centre, have good insurance and pension plans, and to live a life without too many financial worries, is to be hired into a good position at an international firm or organisation. Should you ever achieve this near-impossible feat, prepare yourself for reactions ranging from adoration to outright jealousy from most everyone else.

Even reaching such high levels on the path to Roman bliss will not protect you from certain incidents you never imagined possible when you were still living in an orderly Northern European country or the US. Take the illustrative example of the post office. Should you ever be ambitious enough to brave the post office queues on a Friday, there is a realistic chance that the clerk will tell you that they have run out of stamps, and that this is all your fault. A small incident, telling in its incredulousness, and perhaps funny enough until you consider that countless similar episodes are waiting for you at the immigration office, the supermarket, the bus stop and the cinema (to only name a few).

In his article, Sebastian Cresswell-Turner asks: “How, then, do you come to terms with it? The answer is that unless you wish to go round in a lather of impotent fury (and it must be said that this is what many foreigners do), you are best advised to shrug your shoulders and turn to the immediate pleasures of life for consolation.”

To me, hardly anything can beat the feeling of stepping out into a sunny Roman morning (the rest of Europe is likely to be covered in fog), and having a quick Cappucino on the way to work, while finding a couple of minutes to flirt with the barista. Small, immediate pleasures make up for a lot. But today I have for the first time considered that what I thought of as an uplifting way of life, perhaps merely qualifies as a necessary distraction.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Keith says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Brilliant! and oh so true!

  2. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [...] With all of the bad news coming out of Italy these days – the catholic church abuse scandal, the electoral shift to the far-right – I thought it was time to remember why so many of us love Italy: The italian way of life has an unique charm about it which can paint even the bleakest of situations a pretty pink. (Read our article about quality of life in Rome, In Rome? Consider Going Home.) [...]

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