Messages From Rome

I decided that instead of trying to merge the two posts I started in Rome, I would post them each, with dates. You’ll understand why.

Short Term Apartment
Short Term Apartment: First Place I lived in Rome

Saturday October 11, 2014

There is a giant golden rain tree out my window, below oleander, palms, and is that yucca? Growing up in a Mediterranean climate myself, I suppose I am a bit of a homebody in that I firmly believe olive is the correct hue of green; and while the stucco walls are salmon, not the regulation white, there are certainly enough red tile roofs to keep me happy. In the evening, the accordion music & signing from the independent theatre across the street mixes with the techno from the club a few doors down.

Cars drive under a bridge at Villa Borghese.
Cars drive under a bridge at Villa Borghese.

I am, as you may have guessed in Rome now. I’m renting an apartment for two weeks, while I look for housing and work out visa stuff. Over the summer, I spent most of my time in Santa Barbara, in my parent’s house, dealing with a personal concern. So it took me awhile to find a lab. Hopefully, I can get the visa issues sorted out and start soon.

Thursday November 25th, 2014

Rome has:

  • The competitiveness of New York: I was late for a meeting about a new apartment and lost it, because someone else was waiting.
  • The disorganization of France: Any time I ask for residency information I get different answers.
  • A lot of pick pockets (my passport was stolen, because I kept it in something that looked like a wallet)
  • Vguely sketchy dealings. I made the mistake of moving into an apartment as a “new roommate”, where my name would not be on the contract. I got kicked out after two weeks and had to pay a moderately large some of money to get my stuff out.
The metro stops still halfway though the tunnel in termini at rush hour.
The metro stops still halfway though the tunnel in termini at rush hour.

I’ve heard someone from here call Rome part of the “3rd world of Europe”. I didn’t really agree. However, I saw how one could get this impression when I was visited the hospital and was in the hospital waiting room for 12 hours.

As I sat reading the second installment in Song of Ice and Fire, patients were wheeled in on gurneys and left there by the staff. There were also police wandering around. Why did a hospital needed police? One of the other patients in the room got angry and started yelling at the staff and the police took him to another room for awhile. Was that why they were there?

More police came in with a man on a gurney, who had large cuts across his stomach and a wet blood stain right over his heart. I think he may have been stabbed. He was handcuffed and screaming “Fa Male!” He looked over at me and smiled, revealing two silver front teeth. I looked away.

Another patent on a gurney was repeatedly vomiting and, in between expulsions, muttering “Allah” again and again. I was relieved when the staff brought him a bucket to vomit into. Then a staff member started wheel him away and without warning the staff member hit him.

I thought about saying something, but suddenly I was acutely aware of the fact that I was also foreign, in pain, and alone. Everyone else was acting normal. Maybe that nurse had hit his chest (I couldn’t see where the blow landed) and he might be choking, which could happen if you were vomiting??? Did I have the language skills to ask in a way that didn’t have the potential to make things worse? The man had stopped muttering.

Most of the people in the hospital were immigrants, because this is where you go, if you’re not registered with Italian insurance. I was there for either a kidney stone or an infection. The doctors weren’t sure witch, so they gave me antibiotics and painkillers and told me to take both.


I now have a lease in a lovely apartment and in general I am doing pretty well. I just wanted to write this, because despite my knowledge of Italy’s political and economic situation and repeated warnings from my lab, I was not prepared for how things actually are. Rome isn’t really that bad. For more serious Italy problems see the trash crisis in Palermo.

Also the idea that it’s “part of the 3rd world” is absurd. One of my new roommates is from the Ukraine and she is very relieved to be in Rome. Italy’s government disfunction and economic crisis do make it an outlier among countries with a similar recent history. At least the police aren’t gunning down citizens or anything crazy like that!


5 thoughts on “Messages From Rome

  1. Hi Christina,
    thanks for this Roman slice of life. You are very ressourceful, I hope you will solve your health and housing problems as soon as possible. I feel worried about you when I read “foreigner, sick and alone in a foreign country”.

    Out of place comment : Your encounter with a stabbed man in a Roman hospital reminds me of a scene of EM Forster in “Room with a view”, when the heroin witnesses a fight between Italians near a fountain in Firenze. Same feelings of weirdness and distress.

    Take care Christina (litterally)


  2. Marie-Clare:

    I solved the housing problem and now have a fully legal lease with a lovely apartment. I’m just working on visa stuff now. I just wanted to write this because I think people who just travel in Europe might not know about the economic crisis and immigration crisis in Italy or might not be able to imagine how they look. Italy is struggling and life in Rome is difficult right now. My lab was very clear about this, before I committed to working with them.

    I’ll e-mail you a full update soon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s