Living in Rome
Some things never change. Writing about Rome, Stendhal mentions the extortionate rent visitors have to pay during the Holy Week. He is there in 1829 at the time of the election of Pope Pius VIII (Castiglioni) which took place in the weeks leading up to Easter. The main concern during the conclave is whether a new pope will be elected before Easter, because if not, there won’t be any celebrations for the Holy Week, and rents will drop considerably. If on the contrary, a new Pope is elected, visitors will flock to the city, and Romans will be able to make a lot of money in a short time on renting out accommodation to tourists and pilgrims.
That mentality hasn’t changed. Visitors and short-term residents are still a source of easy cash for Romans. They pay ridiculous amounts in rent, usually proportionate to their lack of knowledge of the Italian language. They have to pay cash, or in a third person’s bank account so the owner can avoid paying tax. And of course, they are highly praised tenants because they pay promptly and are trouble free. They can’t even start to consider purchasing a property because there is no transparency in the market, and probably no market at all. There are hardly no estate agents as everything is done through word of mouth and connections. It is said that potential property buyers usually have to wait for an old person to die and for his or her heirs to disagree on inheritance, for a property to be released on to the market. Is it the price to pay for the privilege of spending a few years in the Eternal City?