No, this isn’t a list of what I want to do when I’m in Rome. It’s the title of the book I just finished.
When In Rome: Chasing la dolce vita, by Penelope Green
Penelope Green is living the fast-paced life of a PR person in Sydney, Australia when at the age of 28 she decides to chuck it all and move to Italy. She packs a backpack and takes off for Perugia to enroll in Italian classes. After a few months, she again packs up and moves to Rome. In the next year and a half, she works in restaurants and wine bars, for a hostel, and tries to re-build her career as a journalist. She meets locals and non-locals and slowly builds a family of friends. The book ends as she turns 30 and reflects on all that she has gained by building her new life in Rome. According to the internets, she is still in Rome, working as a free-lance journalist.
What makes this book so different from the numerous ex-pat tales is Green’s tell-it-like-it-is style. She doesn’t romanticize the city or the people, although she is often awed by the history and monuments surrounding her. She pokes fun at herself and is honest about her half-hearted attempts to practice her Italian and her numerous linguistic goofs. Unfortunately, the one word I remember from the book is vaffanculo (because it makes numerous appearances), which isn’t something I think I want to go around shouting as a tourist.
Anyways, this is a quick and enjoyable read, but if you want to read it your best bet is to sign up for one of the globe-trotting editions through The Sisterhood of the Traveling Books. Otherwise, good luck finding a copy…published in Australia, it’s not readily available in this neck of the woods.