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Could I Live in Rome? (Yes I Could)

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Confession Time: I came to Rome with a hidden agenda.

Mike and I are considering moving to Europe next year once he gets his Italian citizenship. We haven’t decided where exactly we would live, but Italy is high on the list and one place jumped out at me from the start: Rome.

Last time I visited Rome I was a college senior. I only spent 3 nights in the city and I saw almost EVERY major sight. I’m not even sure I slept, I just ran from place to place, Lonely Planet in hand. When I think back on that trip it’s a total blur of piazzas, maps and history lessons.

Even so, I remember being entranced by the city in a way that Florence and Venice couldn’t do for me. I’ve always loved big cities with lots of history, like London, San Francisco and my hometown of DC. Rome is the ultimate for this: the past and present mingle in a way that’s fascinating.

Mike had never been to Rome, so it seemed like the perfect time to plan a trip. This time though, I didn’t want to sprint through the city in a long weekend. I wanted to spend at least a week exploring and trying to live locally.

and eat cannolis.

Needed: an Apartment

Enter Go With Oh, an apartment rental company in Europe that kindly lent us a really neat two level apartment in the Monte area for a week (if you’re not familiar with Rome this means we were basically in spitting distance to the Colosseum).

I’ve reviewed a handful of apartment rental companies on this site, but as of right now Go With Oh is totally my favorite. They are only available in twelve European cities, and by staying small they are able to work really closely with the apartment owners to make sure that all the apartments on their site are top notch. In fact, the first apartment we were supposed to stay in was pulled from the site due to a bad review.

Luckily we had much better luck with our second place- a fifth floor walk-up in a historic building near the Cavore metro stop. It was gorgeous, full of paintings and sculptures (by the owner perhaps? They were all of naked ladies). There was a spacious living room area, a kitchen and a downstairs bedroom. After furiously traveling around Finland it felt like a warm and cozy home.

Also those 6 flights of stairs (no elevator) were the perfect counterbalance to the enormous amounts of food I couldn’t stop consuming.

My desk

butts

Living Locally

Well it turns out a week is not long enough to explore Rome, not by a longshot. We did a lot of sightseeing- maybe more than we intended, but we also tried to enjoy the luxury of living like a local in one of the greatest cities in the world.

For us that mainly meant scavenging the surrounding side streets for the best local restaurants. Within a couple of days we had found our local pizza place, our favorite local Roman restaurant and of course, our local gelato shop. We debated hotly over whether it was “local” to eat gelato every single evening- I of course lobbied passionately for yes.

We also found the local markets, and took advantage of having our own kitchen to cook fresh pastas, veggies and lots of cured meat and cheese plates. I learned that in Italy most shopping is done not at the supermarket but at local butchers, cheese shops and vegetable stands. It was easy to picture myself picking out vibrant artichokes and strawberries for my own home.

Yum

We indulged in a bunch of other local activities: tracking down SIM cards, learning to take the metro, even a visit to the dentist (more on THAT terrifying experience later).

These mundane tasks: shopping, eating, getting from point a to point b, are the core of what makes up a local living experience (well that and finding a community, something we didn’t quite have time to tackle). Even totally boring stuff like reading a book on the couch while your partner cooks dinner.  It wasn’t quite the same as actually living somewhere, but it was a tantalizing taste.

The Verdict

It was a great week. Every time I visit Italy I just fall more and more in love with it (must be my genetics), and I was excited to actually meet some expats who have made Rome their home. We didn’t quite feel “local,” I think that you need to stay in a place a least a month to get a real glimpse of that. Still, staying in an apartment versus a hotel or hostel is a great starting point.

I don’t know if we will move here, it’s quite expensive compared to some other cities , and there is still so much of Europe to explore, but I know I’m not done with this city yet.

Special thanks to Go With Oh Rome for hosting us in Rome. Opinions are my own.

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14 Responses to Could I Live in Rome? (Yes I Could)

  1. Sarah P April 2, 2013 at 9:21 AM #

    I get what you mean – I absolutely fell in love with Rome too!

    But I don’t think I could ever seriously commit to living there – there’s just no way I could control myself from eating gelato everyday and pigging out on pasta! I gained so much weight in a three week trip! I shudder to think what I’d look like if I actually lived in Italy!

  2. Edna April 2, 2013 at 9:27 AM #

    I’m actually considering moving to Italy next too! My contract in Paris ends this summer and I have Milan or Rome in my sights…would be cool to meet up with you there!

    • Steph April 2, 2013 at 3:59 PM #

      That would be awesome- we’re actually eyeing Bologna so maybe we’ll be neighbors!

  3. Katelyn April 2, 2013 at 4:10 PM #

    I’m drooling from that picture of the cannoli! I loved Rome and Italy so much. Living in Europe for a few years is definitely on my Bucket List. Cute post!

  4. kle April 2, 2013 at 9:45 PM #

    Rome is a totally awesome city… i always says that it has a heart. I’ve lived in rome for almost 4 years few years ago and for me it remains the top city in the world. But as you said..Rome is crazy expensive. True. But the real question for me was “do i really want to live in Rome?” and you can imagine the answer …. :)
    Living in Rome is hard sometimes. AS you can imagine, visiting it and living there is totally different. But still rewarding in many ways. When people start feeling the heart of the city, far away from the usual turistic spots, they usually fall in love with Rome. I know i did. I only wish i had a well paid job when i was living there, as i can not even start to imagine how much would an apartment close to the city centre costs these days… :)
    Well, if you ever decide to move to italy and need some tips from a local, i’ll be happy to give you all my help!
    Best of luck!

  5. eemusings April 4, 2013 at 4:28 AM #

    What a cute apartment!

    Italy holds a special thrill/intrigue for me and I can’t wait to get there, thanks, I guess, to books. I am not sure if it’s a country we might want to live in, but you never know…

  6. Rocio April 4, 2013 at 5:14 AM #

    I don’t know Rome yet. But hopefully I will. And I can’t wait!

  7. Amanda April 4, 2013 at 12:08 PM #

    Ah, Rome. Exciting that you and Mike are considering living there!

    Rome was one of the first places I really explored on my own as a traveler. I was 19 and went there on a trip with my college marching band. We only spent 3 days there and didn’t have a ton of free time, but the time we did get to ourselves I spent playing tour guide for 3 of my friends (because I was the only one with a guidebook who could figure out the metro). I loved it, and am really looking forward to going back at some point this summer.

  8. Rachael April 4, 2013 at 12:33 PM #

    Great post – thank you!

    Could you share what local markets and restaurants you ended up going to?

    I had a similar short experience in Rome before and my roommate and I are going for a week this summer. We plan to rent an apartment or a spare room and want to live as the Romans do.

    Thanks!

  9. zof April 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM #

    Living in Rome that might be awesome thing to do! I spent 5 days there and after like 24 hours I decided to travel slow and focus on the everyday details instead of running from one stop to another with my Lonely Planet in hand. This city has just TOO MANY attractions to do so. It’s like a huge open air museum, so huge that you need to choose what you want to see first, otherwise you won’t see (and remember) anything. I hope I will come back there soon…

  10. Sara April 6, 2013 at 6:18 PM #

    Rome is still one of my absolute favorite cities in the world. There’s something just indescribable of hopping of something so modern, like a metro, and finding the Coliseum in front of you. Magic.

  11. Neetuagarwal April 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM #

    you should check out Napoli, but stay there for a while to really “get” the city. It’s another world, people function differently in the South, esp. in Napoli. I’m originally from there but born and raised abroad, go back often though and am still not a local. I think it is the most absurd and interesting and beautiful city in Italy

  12. Amy April 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM #

    I think you definitely need to spend longer in Italy before you commit to moving there. I study Italian at university, and me and my classmates have just got back from a year living in Italy. Out of about 60 people, only a handful have said that they could live there again. And we’ve all dedicated 4 years of our lives to studying the language and culture, so please don’t just think we’re haters, since we all really wanted to love it!

    There are just some things in the Italian culture that people from less traditional countries like the UK (and I assume the US and Canada) might be surprised by or uncomfortable with. I definitely found that simply not being Italian set me apart, and people made certain assumptions about foreigners even when we spoke pretty decent Italian. And I think Italian-Americans would have similar problems, I know my British Italian friends did unless they spoke Italian with a local accent and really looked the part.

    Short term (say, a year), Italy would be lovely to live in. But I definitely don’t think I could make a home there, even though I’ll be back for holidays!

    • Steph April 11, 2013 at 11:36 AM #

      Thanks for the insight. I imagine there are a lot of similarities between living in Italy and living in Argentina which was definitely extremely frustrating at time. Right now we’re thinking we’d just go ofr a year, but we shall see how things pan out!

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