Friday, 16 January 2015

City in Summary: Rome

As a centre of such rich military and religious history, Rome is a city with a wealth of vibrant culture and opportunities to explore.  The Vatican City boasts spectacular architecture, (with Michelangelo’s famous artwork displayed in the Sistine Chapel), and is one of the city’s top tourist attractions, whilst the impressive Colloseum depicts the wealth of imperial Roman architecture in the city.  As well as the city’s visual aesthetics, Rome also boasts some of the best of Italy’s famous cuisine. Predictably, in the 2014 expat survey, Italy was ranked 2nd for the best diet and enjoying the local food. It is unsurprising that Rome is a popular destination for tourists who appreciate art and architecture, but living in the Italian capital brings its own challenges. 

Image Source: Creative Commons: Carlo Mirante

As with any city, some may find Rome’s fast paced life and busy streets slightly overwhelming, and expats in Rome comment that living in the bustling city is very different to visiting it for a city break.  The road system can be one of the most congested in Europe and with bikers weaving in and out of traffic you’ll need your wits about you to keep up with locals. 

It is possible you might suffer a bit of a culture shock - Rome is very laid back and less service-orientated.  A custom which has tended to impact people entering workplaces in Rome for the first time is ‘La Pausa’; similar to the siestas of the Spanish, in Rome businesses take around 3 hours for lunch.  Try not to get frustrated with the slower pace of business in Rome; really embrace the mind-set of “When in Rome”, and enjoy that ‘La Pausa’!

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Anselmo Sousa

Although expats comment it is possible to get by without learning Italian, they recommend that an ability to understand and speak the language will help build friendships with locals and allow you to really immerse yourself within the city. One expat told us, “Learn the language and do not confuse living here with a holiday in Italy”. Encouragingly, the 2014 Expat Explorer survey ranked the Italian language very highly (2nd place) for ease of learning.  However, if you are feeling particularly homesick, there is a large expat community in Rome who are said to have a lively social scene – so there should always be someone you can speak to! 

Image Source: Creative Commons: Jean Pierre FLEAU

Like any capital city, Rome is big, and its residential districts vary.  Younger people looking to be at the heart of the buzz of city life generally live in the areas of Trastevere and Prati, which are close to the city centre and full of trendy restaurants and chic boutiques.  For expats with young children, Aventino, Monteverde and Balduina are ideal; located in Rome’s famous hills, the areas are quieter and are less congested. 

Overall those who relocate to Rome have a very positive experience, with the magic of Rome outweighing any difficulties of adapting to city life. 

Share your own tips for moving abroad in the comments section or on Twitter @expatexplorer

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