Monday, October 18, 2010

Life With Italians

It has been nearly 5 months since I moved to Rome and Friday marked the start of yet another beginning. After two trips, four people, and an absurd amount of luggage, Sarah and I moved into our new place off Via dei Pettinari. We are a stones throw away from Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori, and just minutes from the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon – pretty much the center of everything. Although excited for this change and being able to live in the heart of Rome, I am sad to say goodbye to the very best roommates we could have asked for upon our arrival. “Immerse yourself in the culture.” I heard countless times before moving halfway across the world. After living with Filly and Gianma, aka G-Dog, I can now say I have a better understanding of the Italian culture and lifestyle.

Their days start much later than my previous 5:30am wake up call. Often not waking up till after 1pm, Gianma and Filly would emerge from their rooms squinting from the bright rays of the afternoon sun. Still dressed in their pajamas (on some occasions not changing at all during the day) and grabbing the espresso maker, they would make their morning café and return to their rooms for some studying.

Breakfast is not a big meal in Italy and if eaten at all is typically something sweet such as a just-got-out-of-the-oven fresh croissant, or cornetto in Italian. Filly would always shake her head at me muttering something in Italian when she caught me making my eggs in the morning. “Breakfast?” She would ask with a look of disapproval. We always had the same conversation over my choice of breakfast foods. “Si, si.” I would respond. “No. Breakfast, we eat dolce.” Here she goes again, I would think to myself.

On the same topic of food, Italians have a deep passion for their cuisine and take it very seriously. Sarah and I were often scolded on how we cook and prepare meals. There was always a right and wrong way according to our Italian roommates and with wide concerned eyes, they would intervene showing us the “proper” way to cook. Filly is a food Nazi and after receiving a food basket from my Italian friend Vincenzo, she proceeded to carefully inspect and smell everything I was given. After minutes of close scrutiny she handed over the basket. “It’s good.” She finally said nonchalantly while shrugging and nodding her head. I took that as approval.

As you can tell, food is a large part of the Italian culture. A good meal should always be shared with someone else and often were offered food from our roommates. I quickly found refusing once it was offered to you is rude and they do not take “No thank you” or “I am not hungry” as reasons not to sit around the table, have a good meal and conversation, and simply enjoy life.

The very last night at our old apartment, I prepared the “last supper” which was unanimously approved by everyone. “Molto buona!” A group of Italians that previously reprimanded my cooking actually enjoyed my meal.

Below are a couple pictures we took the last night.

Thousands of miles away from home, these two have become family. I will miss their nagging, the laughs, but most of all seeing their familiar friendly faces everyday.


  1. Great story. I moved to Rome 10 years ago and really love stories about how people experience the city and the people - most of all their very strange attachment to the "right" (ie Italian way) and "wrong" (ie, foreign way) of eating and drinking.

  2. They look like such lovely people. I'm so glad you found such great roommates.