Living in Rome
I am on the fast Frecciarossa train between Rome and Milan, which is busy as usual and is a fair indicator of the number of people who regularly travel between the two cities. It feels like the heart of Italy beats not only in Rome, the capital city, or in Milan, the industrial and commercial centre, but somewhere in-between the two. It is obviously the effect of having a country whose power is so distinctly split between two major centres. Every week, thousands of people move from South to North and vice versa for different reasons.
Being in Milan, I feel like I am in a “real city”. It is much closer to a modern Northern European city: a vibrant centre with many large stores, galleries, contemporary looking sandwich bars and cafés and people going about their business. It makes me wonder whether I actually like living in Rome where the pace is so much slower, whether I like Rome as a modern city….I often wonder. Rome is a city of art, not a city of work opportunities…It is a great place to learn about history and the arts, but it feels isolated from the rest of Europe. Understandably, with such a great past, it is more difficult to look towards the future and move forward, because the past weighs on so much. Not only was Rome the centre of the world once, but for centuries it was the city of the popes who were not generally known for being avant-garde; that too has left a mark on the city. Today, it remains difficult to enter. The way it works is very opaque and closed to outsiders. Relationships, particularly professional ones, rely on tight networks of friends and old family acquaintances.
I don’t know Milan enough to know whether those characteristics are specific to Rome or are Italian in general. Is Milan an easier city to live in? I cannot answer at this stage. I’ll have to keep travelling on the Milano-Roma line.