As an addendum to my “10 things that make Roma troppo speciale”, here is another list of observations of those things that are, well, a little less convenient. Casual observations, mind you.
1. Laundry. First of all, we have dryers in the States. Not so, in all of Italy. Those picturesque shots of clothes hanging from windows? It’s for necessity, not just to make your photo album look authentically rustic. I guess it requires too much electricity to run, and why waste the fast drying heat of the sun? Which might also explain why everyone washes their clothes at night. FYI – do not even think of going to a local laundromat either, a lavenderia. It will cost you over 20 euro to wash and dry three loads. I found out through a friend who was suckered into using it…
2. Staples. The fact that we have Staples and/or Office Depot is a blessing. Finding a location in Roma to copy your cv on quality paper is a pain. Especially one that has business hours that most of us are accustomed to.
3. Shopping hours. Wallowing in the brilliance of this European city, I still missed 24-hour stores. In Italy maybe a shop will open at 10am, maybe not. Maybe they will close for lunch for 3 hours, hey, maybe not. Maybe they won’t open at all. You shop on their time, ok? Because they really don’t need your business.
4. Pavement. As a woman, you’d have a better time walking in the street swerving out of the way of speeding taxis than footing it on the pavement. Especially if you’re wearing cute heels. Otherwise, cobble-dy, cobble-dy, cobble-do — oh wait, did I just break my ankle??
5. Streets. As I mentioned, its better to runway walk in the streets if you’re rocking some high heels and a nice outfit. However, figuring out which direction cars are coming from when you’re attempting to cross the street is another story. While you’re assuming you are safe by looking both ways, you might get hit from some Vespa scooter traveling from an entirely unexpected direction. Watch out!
6. Stoves. Thank goodness that my American-made (or at least made-for-American-use) gas stovetop turns on when I turn the knob. I do not have to sit and count for 10+ seconds so that the gas will remain on. Nor do I need a match to light the burner, and then hold it for 10+ seconds to make sure the the gas remains on.
7. Towels. Ok, who knew that buying a towel would be such an ordeal? Or linens, for that fact? There are few specialty linen stores (where? I didn’t see one!), and of course there is a blessed absence of Target/Walmart/Kmart (well, maybe a Conad superstore out in the rural areas), but that still meant it took me a week to find a place a buy a decent bath towel. And only because I asked my host family. After all that, I had to leave my beautiful celedon colored towel at Ms. Gx’s home since it took up too much space in my luggage. So much for trying to find things on my own.
8. Libraries. I love libraries. I swore I would visit a few in Rome while I was there. However, historical landmarks that are as far as the eye could see — (squirrel!) — helped me avoid visiting any institutions of higher learning except my language school while there. Roma, you make things so difficult!
9. Wawa. For my east coast people, you know what I’m talking about. 24- hour made-to-order sandwich delight after a late night of debauchery. Or Haagen Daz coffee ice cream. They also sell clothing detergent and razor blades if you need those too.
10. Mani-Pedis. I’m sure the women in Roma visit salons, and I’m sure they get mani-pedis. However, where, I just do not know. I saw one salon that offered manicures throughout my entire two months there, maybe two. I must be honest, I really wasn’t looking for any salons since I highly doubt that any of the stylists there have worked with natural hair as resplendent as mine. (yeah, I said it) I’m sure there are many salons/mani-pedi establishments, but they were not obvious, just like most of the good places in Roma.
Dear readers, I absolutely adore Roma. Maybe Siena and San Gigmignano a little bit more. However, the most important lesson I learned was this:
when in Rome, do as the Romans do…