The Roman Lifestyle
Posted by Intern in on October 1, 2013.
There are many new things one must become accustomed to while in a foreign country, and as far as being in Rome, it's a whole new lifestyle.
To start their days off, Romans wake up fairly early, have a caffè, maybe a little cornetto (pastry), and a cigarette. A very small meal, if you would even consider that a meal, and then their out, briskly walking the streets or waiting to catch the bus. For lunch, if they're in a rush, they can just grab a slice of pizza, charged by the weight, warmed up, folded in half and wrapped in paper to eat as they go. Or there are a ton of cafe's and small restaurants on every block to sit down and eat at. I do love how cafe's that line busy streets have both chairs on the same side, making it the perfect set-up to chat and people-watch (one of my favorite things to do). Towards late afternoon, Rome dies down a little bit when shops close for a few hours, what I like to call nap-time. When I first heard this, all I could think was "Yes, God has answered my prayers!" I couldn't believe that a place in the world actually exists where nap-time is included in the middle of the day, not to mention I would be living there and get to experience it for four months. After the first two meals of the day being somewhat small, Romans will have a full out, four course meal for dinner, usually pretty late around 20:30. The meal begins with an antipasta, usually meats and cheese, bruschetta, etc., what we know of as an appetizer. After that comes the primi piatto, always a pasta dish or soup. Following that is the secondo piatto, the meat dish, and if you were to have a side dish, contorno, this is when you would eat it. All of these courses can be split between two people, some places won't even let you order certain dishes if it's just for one. At the end of dinner, frutta, or fruit, is commonly eaten.
It's actually a nice eating schedule when followed. Whenever I've had a huge dinner like that while I've been here, I'm still full when I wake up in the morning, so there's no need for a huge breakfast of eggs or oatmeal.
Surprisingly, Italians are all relatively skinny. I was shocked to see how tiny all the women are here, and even more so when I saw the men. Most older men don't even have a gut, and you definitely don't see even a quarter of the amount of overweight people you would see in America. And this is because of the portions in Italy, as well as almost all of Europe. They're all smaller. And with people's sizes being directly proportional to what they eat, they're smaller too. (Well, and I'm sure all the cigarettes they smoke everyday helps keep that weight off.) Not to mention, everyone walks everywhere here. Sure there's the public transportation, but sometimes it's just easier to walk places. And I'm actually starting to enjoy it more. It's great exercise, and it's nice not being stuck in a car trying to get somewhere. And hey, I have to burn off all these carbs somehow right?
The city of Rome is almost one big oxymoron. Everyone is always in a hurry to get somewhere, cars constantly honking and vespas zooming by. Yet at the same time, people will spend hours sitting at a restaurant table talking and drinking a caffe or a glass of wine. Their sense of moderation is so perfect in the way that they can balance work and leisure all in one day. And I must say, it's a confusing concept to grasp when you see these things happen every single day. I'm still trying to understand it, going from completely opposite ways of life and blending them to fit together so easily. They've really got it down to a T though with this urban, city life, hustling and bustling, mixed with a lazy, undemanding, three-hour-long lunch kind of life. I really do like this lifestyle though, it's different, yet exactly what more places in America need to adopt.
Well, looks like it's time for my afternoon nap, ciao!
-- Nicole Baggerly, WSA Intern Fall 2013, CEA Rome, Italy
Spots are limited!
We keep our groups small, so save your spot now! Check out our Tripadvisor, App Store & Facebook travel love below.
Stay up to date with upcoming tours, deals and discounts through our Facebook page!
Pick a city and go! All new budget guidebook from Andy Steves, Founder and Chief Backpacker of WSA.