Life in a Modern Rome
The Eternal City has changed in the more than a dozen years since I first moved here. A lot. Some things are arguably worse now, like public transportation what with buses bursting into flames and months of closed metro stations, not to mention the endless delays of the Metro C line. Compared to my first years in Rome when it was near impossible to find out when a shop or restaurant was open so many things are easier now. From apps on my phone, I can summon taxis and tacos, book seats at the movies and on a train.
Fellow ex-pats (yes I use that word to describe myself, unlike just about everyone else I know here I am in Italy as a guest of the Foreign Ministry and will have to leave when my husband’s job here is finished) and immigrants wring their hands at the invasion of all of this non-Italian culture. I am not worried. The first of the Erasmus kids are in their 30’s now and have seen the world, tried new foods, learned new languages, and most importantly, come home. Like Italians with their confident adoption of English words like Smart-Working and Fiction, I have no fear about the loss of their language, I have little doubt that the local bar will survive the opening of the long-rumored Starbucks and no one is completely abandoning their leisurely Sunday lunches at the beach or with nonna because of a delivery taco on a Saturday night.
I still eat more Amatriciana than sushi and the Pantheon still makes me gasp when I walk by but here are a few new-ish things that make life in Rome just a little bit easier.
Yes, there is Uber here in Rome, but I have never used it. Only UberX is available and there is a more economical alternative. Some taxi drivers in Rome got organized and joined in a global app called Free Now. The way it used to work was you had to call for a taxi or find a taxi stand. There is no flagging down taxis from the street in Rome. In all my years here I have never, not one time, been able to get a taxi by calling one. In Balduina we lived across the street from a taxi stand so it was easy but here in Monti, the closest stands are about a 10-minute walk away. Using Free Now I have booked taxis a day ahead of time for 5:00 am trips to the airport and for five minutes before I want to go somewhere. You can choose to pay in the app or in cash.
Deliveroo and UberEats
I love going out to eat. I don’t love going out to eat on weekends. I cook during the week but on the weekends that we are in Rome instead of joining the crowds in Monti, we usually watch something on Netflix and order in. Download Deliveroo and UberEats and you can have tacos (or trappizzino or Amatriciana) delivered directly to your door.
Online Movie Tickets
One of my favorite things to do on a winter weekend is to go to the movies. My particular pleasure is a matinee. It feels so decadent to walk out of a movie theater into daylight and still have a few hours of the weekend left. For many years it was not easy to find out what and where was playing in English. Now once a week I get an email from two different theaters. Even better I can buy tickets ahead of time and pick my favorite seat online.
Online Train Tickets
The way it used to work when you wanted to take a train anywhere in Italy was that you had to go to Termini and buy your ticket. There was a website, but I seemed to get caught in a forever loop that never ended up with a ticket. Now I can book four fast train tickets to Venice at a deep discount months in advance or a single seat on a local train back to Rome while my ferry from Ponza is pulling into port. I use both Trenitalia and Italo depending on who has the best price.