When in Rome …

When in Rome, do as Romans do. So I occupy an apartment in the beating heart of the Eternal City and, for a week, live like a local in a fabulous location within walking distance of almost everything I hope to see and experience. I doubt that I could have chosen a better way of sampling life in Italy’s glorious capital.

Carrying a hotel room key instantly marks anyone as visitor and stranger to the streets. Compare that with the juicy sense of belonging I feel each morning as I step through my front door onto Via Laurina or when returning home in the evening carrying a paper bag filled with groceries for my dinner.

Add to these warm and fuzzy feelings the greetings by friendly neighbours, getting to know the shopkeepers along my street, buying a daily newspaper from the chatty corner vendor, finding the best coffee in my neighbourhood and watching football in a local bar amid a throng of fervent Roma supporters.

These intimate experiences at least allow me to imagine I’m doing as locals do, even if I’m bereft of local dialect and sorely lacking the essential body language and attitude that marks the genuine Roman. My neighbours are gracious enough to ignore these obvious deficiencies, endure my temporary illusion and permit me to briefly feel part of the city fabric.

A couple of friendly and experienced Australians make my Rome apartment stay possible. Jill and Leon Kammer know a great deal about relocation and living in foreign cities. Originally from Melbourne, they’ve since set up home and business in various countries, first in Thailand then the US, followed by the south of France and now Italy. Over the years they’ve learnt a great deal about the gap between perceived and actual expectations, coping with the unusual and unexpected, dealing with occasional disappointments and the delight of surrounding oneself with a few creature comforts.

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