THREE MONTHS LIVING IN ROME
Things are starting to fall into place and life is returning back to normal — well a new normal as Americans living in Italy. We moved into our apartment, the pups are adjusting well, but I’m sure are missing a grassy yard, and things about Rome that used to make it feel foreign are becoming normal.
There are public fountains all over Rome and when we first moved here we had a lot of questions about them. What are they? Where is the water coming from? What is the water used for? Is the water drinkable? We’ve recently learned they’re called nasoni, meaning big nose fountains. The water that comes out of these fountains is safe to drink and is the same water that comes out of the tap in every house. There are also free water kiosks where you can refill your bottles with either still or sparkling water. The kiosks ask that you limit yourself to six bottles at a time and that you don’t waste the waterCheck where you can find the nearest fountain using this map. There are over 3,000 fountains sprawled across the city.
Unlike the United States, water is not provided and is not free during meals in Italy. If you don’t ask for water, it will most likely not be served. If you ask for water, you’ll need to decide between still and sparking (personally, I love sparkling water) and expect to pay anywhere from one to a few euros depending on where you’re dining. Carry a reusable water bottle and not only can you save a few euros (because who doesn’t want more euros to spend on gelato), but you’re also contributing less waste in the environment.
I really miss the ease of driving to get around and I miss the Corolla I had for almost nine years, but I have found a new love for walking the city and using public transportation to get around. Because driving here seems to be a little reckless, car insurance is double or triple the amount of what it costs in the States. Using public transportation does take longer than driving, but you don’t have to deal with the impossible parking in Rome, it’s inexpensive, and you lessen your carbon footprint. You can read helpful tips about how to use Rome’s public transit system here.
Grocery shopping is still frustrating. American markets are large and the ones in California usually have items from many ethnic backgrounds. We can find Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, etc. ingredients all in the same place. In Rome, that’s not the case and so we’ve made a few 40-minute journeys to my new favorite Asian market, Pacific Trading. Thankfully, Jaime is the most patient man I know and he waited in the corner of two different Asian stores as I shopped to my heart’s content, which led to us carrying what felt like 100 pounds worth of Asian groceries back home.
I would love to order from the meat and fish counters at grocery stores, but honestly, the language barrier is too intimidating. Of course, I can practice saying what I want to order, but what happens when they ask me a question in a language I don’t fully understand? I start Italian language classes in a week and a half and I’ll be attending 15 hours of classes every week for four weeks. My fingers are crossed that next month I’ll be able to order from the meat and fish counters. In the meantime, we’ll practice making as many Roman dishes as possible. Earlier this week we tested cacio e pepe and next on our list is carciofi alla romana (Roman style artichokes).
Hispanic markets and Hispanic foods seem to be nonexistent. No tomatillos. No jalapeños. No pinto beans. No corn tortillas. A few stores sell flour tortillas and one store had one can of refried beans, but you can’t plan a trip to a grocery store with the expectation that you’ll be leaving with either. These kinds of items go on our wish list because maybe the store will have them, but most likely they won’t. When my mom came 1-2 weeks ago, she brought us seven dozen corn and flour tortillas. I think we have two dozen tortillas left (we’re both Mexican, tortillas don’t last long around here) and I’m not sure how we’re going to survive once we run out. I see fresh, homemade tortillas in our future.
We really can’t express how much we appreciate the care packages we’ve received from our family. Every bag of popcorn we snack on, piece of American chocolate we indulge in, tortillas we heat on our pretend comal, Trader Joe’s snacks we eat, and the collection of Girl Scout cookies in our pantry are a small taste of home. We appreciate everyone’s continued love, support, and effort to keep in touch with us 5,000+ miles away. On days when it really hits that the only people we know in this country are each other (because let’s face it, the reality is sometimes sad, lonely, and scary), it’s nice to have the comfort of our loved ones back home.
Spring has arrived in Rome and the city is beautiful with blossoms and wisteria everywhere. So far our journey of living in Italy has been great, albeit the few road bumps. We’ve adjusted better than either of us thought we would, we love the food, we love the culture, and we’re almost settled into our new home.
What were your biggest struggles when you moved somewhere new?