People make a lot of fuss about this city, and Rome is sometimes still referred to as “Eternal City”, or “Caput Mundi” – latin for capital of the world. But does its ancient role as former centre of the Roman empire merit such attention? Is Rome only a relique, visited by kindly disposed people who see greatness in its ancient remains, gracefully overlooking its considerable flaws? Or is it still, today, a capital worthy of ranking among the great cities of the world?
It certainly depends on what you value. The low level of efficiency is maddening. New technology is adopted at a puzzlingly slow pace. So what does Rome offer? I am going to try a detached, objective description for you, but nevertheless from a local perspective:
On a first level, countless old buildings and ruins are scattered around, constituting the antique centre of the world. Built on top of this old metropolis is a chaotic, imperfect city, not designed for modernity, riddled by seemingly senseless bureaucracy, and consistently overflowing from traffic, noise and tourists. It is inhabited by an extraverted, artistically gifted people who know how to live, cook and eat. Seven months of the year are mostly hot and sunny, with deep blue skies. The remaining five months are often grey, humid, rainy and horrible – well, in comparison to the summer. I confess that there a large number of sunny days even in the winter, but they are not enough to claim that Rome is gifted with perfect weather all year around.
This doesn’t sound completely appealing, let alone perfect. So why do people such as myself fall in love with the city, and keep coming back?
For me, it is quite simple: I find it intoxicating, and wonderfully entertaining. Breathing in the characteristic smells and warm air, listening to all the loud people around me, experiencing the inescapeably interactive life on the streets, and admiring the ragged and unapologetic beauty of its buildings, makes me feel inspired, exhilarated. Life is truly full of unexpected twists and turns in Rome. Your day may turn out to be completely different than you planned, because the city has its own rules and demands. There is risk involved, adrenaline, random encounters with talkative but not obtrusive strangers. A pronounced contrast to places such as Zurich, who let you be in control, are there to serve you with their high efficiency, mould themselves according to your precise plans, and miraculously manage to do so successfully for 360 out of 365 days of the year.
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