A Bit Like the Historical Romans

I am from England, London to be specific, and there are many examples of ancient Roman architecture throughout the land. It is enough to satisfy the most avid Roman history fans. But I never cared about Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman baths, or various streets until I lived in Italy and absorbed the culture there. Now I am fascinated by the historical Romans and their way of life. Of course, I don’t want to live that way. I am a modern woman. I almost did once when a hot water pipe broke in my apartment building and I was forced to heat water on the stove (it’s gas, so it is akin to a fire I suppose). It was a real throwback experience.

Maybe the Romans, as clever as they were with technology, had another way of providing hot water. We know how they piped it in. As for now, it is all conjecture to me. Meanwhile, I think about the catacombs, the colosseum, the aqueducts, and the glorious Arch of Constantine. Rome is defined to us now by its historic past. Even if you prefer the modern Italian culture—wonderful food, movies, fashion, and cars—you can’t escape ancient times wherever you go in Rome. Yes, there are other periods such as the Renaissance and Baroque, but for me, the era of the great emperors holds sway in my mind. I don’t stop adoring landmarks with the Fountain of Trevi. You have centuries to cover as a student of Roman history, so it is no easy feat to master. Plus, you better become a lover of archeology. I was converted fast after only a few months in my new domicile. If I weren’t already so busy working on my degree, I would love to take a few classes.

I should mention before going any further with this blog that I studied Information Technology in Rome and not history. I got so engrossed in anything about Italy that I even forgot my major. I have a second love it seems. If you have ever lived abroad, you may understand how I became engrossed in something entirely new and foreign to me. In fact, I decided to stay on after school and live and work in one of the most amazing cities on earth.

My insight on ancient Roman civilization is limited, and the water heater incident brought to mind how interesting it is to look back and see how what we take for granted today started. It will take some digging, but I intend to find out about ancient Roman stoves.

A Little Homesick Today

Although my stay in Rome has been fascinating, I must admit that I feel a little homesick today. There are quite a number of issues that have made me to miss by home city of London.

Having been born and raised in London, this was my first trip to Rome and the first time I have stayed in another country for more than one month. I cannot believe that I have been in this city for four years! Some of the issues that have made me feel homesick today include;

Culture Shock

Despite the fact that I have not been able to experience any major difficulties during my four year stay in Rome, it is important to point that culture shock makes you feel home sick. Adjusting to a new cuisine, shop hours, social customs, weather, and currency exchange is not easy and these are some of the things that make one to miss home.

To begin with, Italy has limited English speakers and this makes it difficult for me to transact some businesses without an interpreter. During my stay in Rome, I have noticed that very few Italians can speak fluent English and this is a major challenge for foreigners like me. Most Rome residents are normally abrupt when you speak to them in English and feel that foreigners are a nuisance.

In London, there are no language issues and this always provided me with an opportunity to transact my business freely without being viewed as a nuisance. In addition, the liberal nature of the locals in Rome means that most billboard and television ads portray a lot of sexuality and nudity. The fact that I come from a conservative culture makes me feel uncomfortable with the Italian’s liberal attitude towards sexuality and nudity.

Also, Italians are not apologetic about the fact that they are loud and proud and this can be very uncomfortable for visitors. When it comes to life on the roads, Rome has crowded roads, confusing rules, and erratic drivers that make me miss home.

Italian drivers can even knock you down as a pedestrian as most of them tend to ignore road crossings. In London, it is easy to navigate on the Tube and the roads are less chaotic due to strict implementation of traffic rules.

Distance

The fact that I have never been away from my family for more than one month has made me to miss home and the need to see my family is one of the major causes of my homesickness. I am fond of my parents and younger sister and this trip to Rome has made realize how much I miss them considering the fact that I have been away for four years.

Throughout my stay, I have been communicating with my family through webcams, social networking sites, email, and phone calls but this does not seem to cure my homesickness. However, the platforms have kept me going to this far.

Expensive Amenities

Important resources such as electricity, gas, and fuel are very expensive in Rome and other cities in Italy. For instance, the system shorts when you use many appliances at once and this can be very disappointing.

In conclusion, Rome has been an amazing host for me but the culture shock, being away from family, and high cost of living have make me to start missing home. However, this is a normal feeling when you visit a new country and Rome is not an exemption.

How to Clean Your Flat Before Your Parents Visit

Ever since I moved to Rome to study IT and eventually live and work, my parents found all kinds of excuses to visit me regularly. It isn’t a long plane ride from London. They adore the culture in all its various manifestations from the world famous cuisine, gorgeous cars, fashion from Milan, and the sophisticated film industry. Like me, they scramble to make time to visit the ancient ruins, the museums, gardens, and other historic landmarks. I love to show them around.

Thus, I look forward to their visits, but they decided to come at the last minute this time and I wasn’t prepared. I like to impress my mother with my housecleaning skills and my father with my neatness and organization; but everything was still in a shambles. I rushed around to get the place up to par. This included a mad-dash vacuum cleaning session. I hadn’t used the machine for a while and it took a while to get its bearings. It seemed to practically cough and choke getting going. It needed some motivation like a kick in the metal shins.

I longed for a few tips on fast cleaning techniques. Parents are the kind of guests who like to inspect the nooks and crannies, check out the condition of the cupboards, and scrutinize the inside of the stove and fridge. Not sure what they were looking for! They aren’t critical people as a rule. Not being a savvy housekeeper, I wondered if there were secret things I didn’t know. Various friends brought over fancy –cleaning products like tile and grout cleaner, oven degreaser, pretreated dusting rags, and kitchen cupboard fingerprint remover.

They also brought guest towels, small guest soaps that smelled divine, and cute woven baskets to stow my junk in and put under the bed. My neighbor brought a small flower arrangement in a cut crystal vase for the guest room. Her daughter added a nice sachet for the closet. I bought some satin padded hangars so it looked like a veritable hotel room. I expected them to be shocked by all the amenities. I even bought their favorite bottle of wine.

One of the great things about having company is that you clean your place top to bottom. That doesn’t happen very often, so this was a great excuse. Now I can go without a huge cleanup for months. Meanwhile, as you might have guessed, my parents were sublimely comfortable and commented endlessly on how nice my place looked. “We certainly don’t have to worry about you anymore, Betti,” my mother cooed. “You don’t need us anymore.”

Learning My Way Around

It is normal when you visit a new city to learn your way around and this was my first assignment when I arrived in Rome over four year ago. Before going to Rome, I had read almost any material I could find about Italy’s capital but things are totally different when you physically visit the city.

In this case, there are some basic things I had to learn before arriving in Rome and this made it easy for me to settle down. I had a couple of Italian friends that helped me learn my way around the city and this are some of the things I have been able to discover about Rome;

Rome is a Modern City

Rome is known for its centuries of history and ancient ruins but my tour around the city made me realize that it is still lively with characteristics of a modern city. The sprawling city has a historic centre with other amazing attractions.

First-time visitors can find a tour around the city to be very overwhelming considering the fact that they have so much to do and see in the city. Part of the city’s charm is its chaotic nature and first-time visitors may not be able to explore everything the city has to offer within a short period of time.

Walking around Central Rome

Rome has a very fascinating city centre and the best way to explore the city centre is by walking. A stroll around the city’s Historic Centre provides you with an opportunity to explore some of the city’s historic squares such as thePiazza Navona and Piazza Campo de’ Fiori.

Other historic features that form part of the Historic Centre include the Jewish Ghetto and the Pantheon. When you are done with the Historic Centre, you can head to the Northern part of the city and do some window shopping at a place called Tridente.

Exploring Roma by Bike

When compared to other European cities like Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam, Rome may not be your ideal bike-friendly city but you can still enjoy your bicycle ride through its many fascinating itineraries. It is always a good idea to go for a guided bike-tour as this helps you enjoy some of the best biking itineraries the city has to offer.

Seeing the City from Above

If your budget allows, an aerial tour of the Eternal City is always an unforgettable experience. The best way to feel the city’s grandeur is to go for a helicopter flight over the city or a hot-air balloon ride. An aerial ride enables you to enjoy magnificent and awe-inspiring views such as the Gianicolo Hill, Palatine Hill, and the Capitoline Hill.

Touring Rome with Google Street View

You can actually use today’s advanced technologies to learn your way around Rome and an example of such technologies is Google Street View. You can take a virtual tour of Rome from the comfort of your sofa and enjoy the splendid monuments as you wander the streets of Rome.

In conclusion, Rome is a very big city and visitors can learn their way around the city through guided tours or using modern technologies such as Google Street View. Also, one can tour the city by taking a stroll, biking, or taking aerial rides.

My Favourite Places So Far

Since I arrived in Rome four years ago, I have been able to visit many amazing places but the Vatican City is my favourite place so far. Considered as the world’s smallest independent state, Vatican is always a major attraction for anyone that visits the city of Rome.

In fact, Catholics like me can never find a better place to visit than the Vatican. The following are some of the major attractions in the Vatican that make it one of the most fascinating places to visit while in Rome;

Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica

The gorgeous Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica is a major attraction for millions of people that visit the city every year. The site provides you with a perfect opportunity to view Renascence architecture and take some beautiful photos. The basilica is considered as one of the most beautiful and largest cathedrals in the world.

There are no entry charges for this site and one only needs to be in an appropriate dress-code. In this case, sleeveless tops and shorts are not allowed. This Renaissance masterpiece is full of works by famous artist like Gioto, Bemini, and Michelangleo.

Vatican Museums

When looking for the richest art collection n the world, Vatican City is the perfect place. The Vatican Museums in the papal palace is filled with manuscripts, tapestries, Etruscan pottery, Ancient Roman Statutes, Ancient Greek Statutes, and paintings by famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael.

You can take a guided tour around the Vatican Museums and enjoy what the museums have to offer. As a visitor, you only need a ticket and comfortable walking shoes to sample the world’s richest art collection.

Vatican Gardens

The Vatican experience cannot be complete without touring Vatican’s beautiful gardens. The gardens have a wider range of attractions including flowerbeds, huge oak trees, splashing fountains, as well as ruins of ancient fortifications. Visitors need advance online booking for a two-hour tour around the beautiful gardens.

Sistine Chapel

This is a 1473 artwork that is part of Vatican’s major attractions. The chapel is adjacent to the Saint Peter’s Basilica and its glorious painting is always a joy to watch.

The Chapel was painted by Michelangelo and can only be accessed through the Vatican Museums. The most significant thing about this site is that it is the place where a new Pope is normally chosen by Cardinals.

The People

Vatican has amazing attractions but one cannot fail to notice that the city’s people are also an attraction. Vatican receives millions of tourists from different parts of the world and it is this collection of people that makes the city to be lively.

Apart from tourists, local people that include; cardinals, priest, nuns can always be seen within the city wearing official attires and this is always a fascinating spectacle. In addition, one can always notice the so called Swiss Guards in colourful uniforms around the city. The guards protect the pope and other sites within the city.

In conclusion, Rome is a very fascinating city but a Vatican experience is a must for any person that visits the city for the first time. For me, this is my favourite place so far.

The Ex-Pat Lifestyle Suits Me!

Working abroad is a major challenge for most people as they are not suited for the expat lifestyle but that is not the case for me. Despite the normal homesickness that one feels after some time, I find expat life very exciting and full of adventure.

However, I have to admit that most of my previous foreign visits never lasted for more than one month but I have never found it hard live abroad. Actually, it is hard to believe that I have been in Rome for four years! Expat lifestyle comes with a lot of challenge such as the need to set-up from scratch, the issue of short-term accommodation, and adjusting to a new way of life and this may not be easy for most people.

Personally, I am always excited about the idea of expat life as it has become normal for me. When you feel scared about the idea of working abroad, know that expat life does not suit you. Affordability of expat life is what scares most people but this has never been a problem for me because I always find a way of living within my means despite high the cost of living in my new city.

For example, the cost of living is very high in Rome but I have managed to survive by sharing a room with my colleague and using one car to move around to save on rent and fuel. In addition, I have a very supportive family that always sends me some money when I feel that there are some things I cannot afford.

Moreover, I am very comfortable with public transport and living in a cheap neighborhood. This makes it easy for me to settle in a new country with a high cost of living. As an IT expert, working with foreign companies and developing solutions for local needs is always exciting for me and that is why I will always excited when an opportunity to work abroad arises.

The other reason why I feel expat life suits me is that I have been able to develop meaningful friendships with people from different countries in Europe and the rest of the world who are able to give me useful information about various countries before I visit.

Social media has been a useful platform for meeting new friends and it is these friends that have always made it easy for me to settle in foreign countries. When I arrived in Rome, one of my Facebook friends was part of the team that welcomed me at the airport and helped me learn my way around the busy city of Rome. I must admit that my contacts from different parts of the world share useful information about their countries and this will always make me comfortable when I visit a foreign country.

In conclusion, expat life suits me due to my ability to adapt to different types of lifestyles. In addition, having network of friends across major cities around the world can be of great help when it comes to working in a foreign country.

Great Day Trips from Rome

Rome is a fascinating city and most visitors find themselves overstaying to enjoy plenty of amazing things that the city has to offer. However, it is interesting to know that you can actually tour other surrounding cities and explore exciting foodie spots and historic sites.

Some of the surrounding regions or cities that are within a day-trip range of Rome include Pompeii, Naples, Tivoli, Orvieto, Tuscany, and the Lazio region. The following are my top four day-trips from Rome;

Day Trip to Tivoli

Tivoli is a relatively small town in the Lazio region, and it only takes you a one-hour train trip to travel from Rome to Tivoli. The town has a lot to offer and some of the most amazing places to visit include; the Hadrian Villa and the Villa d’Este.

Built by Emperor Hadrian, Hadrian Villa is a luxurious ancient villa that provides a tantalizing spectacle for visitors as all its ancient statutes, marble pavements, and pavements are still intact. On the other hand, the Villa d’Este is a typical Italian villa built in the 16th century and is known for its gorgeous fountains, frescoed rooms, and formal gardens.

Day Trip in Tuscany

Tuscany is a perfect destination for a day trip from Rome when looking or a relaxing scenery as well as tasty wine and food. Some of the most interesting activities that one can enjoy while visiting Tuscany include; castle climbing at Montalcino, shopping at the hill town of Pienza, and visiting the Brunello di Montalcino vineyards.

In addition, there are some attractive smaller towns in Tuscany where a visitor can have some stops and enjoy what Tuscacy has to offer. Examples of such towns in clued Bagno Vignoni that is commonly referred to as the hot springs town, Monticchiello, and Montepulciano.

Day Trip to Naples

Naples is considered as one of the most fascinating cities in Italy and those staying in Rome can have an opportunity to take a day trip and sample what the city has to offer. This is definitely one of the liveliest cities and home to Europe’s finest archeological and art museums.

Visitors get an opportunity to sample frescoes from Popmpeii villas, sculptures, ad mosaics at the museums. Apart from the Museums, Naples has a fascinating underground, gorgeous foods, and fantastic food. It takes approximately one hour to travel from Rome to Naples using the fastest train.

Day Trip to Pompeii

A day trip to Pompeii is one of the most rewarding trips as one gets an opportunity to visit a historic, spine-tingling, and atmospheric city. It takes a minimum of two and a half hour to travel from Rome to Pompeii using a fast train.

Some of the best places to visit on your day trip to Pompeii include; a stop on the Circumvvesuviana, the Herculaneum, and a stop on the Amalfi coast. In addition, a visitor gets to enjoy the amazing geological processes in the city.

In conclusion, Rome is amazing city but one does not need to confine themselves in the capital when they can still enjoy amazing day-trips outside the town. The surrounding regions or cities have amazing sites and a wide range of attractions that can make your stay in Rome more fascinating.