How I Left Everything Behind to Start a New Life in Rome
My move to Italy was precluded by previous years working in London with Universal Record Company as a professional singer, and then as an art show organizer after I left the record deal jaded by my lack of actual input. I began living with an intelligent, introvert filmmaker hopeful in Dublin. Italy had never crossed my mind; life in Italy was a black smudge on the map that evaded my imagination.
At a wedding in Tuscany, I stood in a lush valley after a cracking thunderstorm and felt electrified by this heady place too vivid to be real. I became a serial Italophile and spent many trips in Italy while deciding that Italian should be part of my next degree. I warned my boyfriend that I planned to do a study year in Italy to become fluent.
But over the rubble and dust of nearly two years of construction work we became concentrated versions of ourselves. I was more unsure and he was pushing his roots underground, becoming attached to the house.
At the same time, my parents offered us my old grandparents’ house for a bargain after they couldn’t sell it in a crippling recession. We were comfortable anti-planners living in rented accommodation. I wasn’t sure we were ready but he saw the potential, and we agreed it didn’t have to stop us from traveling.
But over the rubble and dust of nearly two years of construction work we became concentrated versions of ourselves. I was more unsure and he was pushing his roots underground, becoming attached to the house. Maybe all I needed was an adventure to be able to commit.
I now had no place to live, not enough money and no friends. It wasn’t easy, but for me starting fresh could only happen if I was on fresh ground.
My first night away, I had a panic attack, choking with tears and the shock of what I had left behind and was attempting to do alone. But shock quickly turned to a renewed energy that propelled me to form new bonds and seek out singing work in Rome. The distance gave me clarity, but slowly. My partner didn’t even talk to me when I flew home to end things after seven years.
I decided to go back to make a proper go of life in Rome. An Erasmus year that I had spent clubbing with English-speaking friends hadn’t felt long enough. I now had no place to live, not enough money and no friends. It wasn’t easy, but for me starting fresh could only happen if I was on fresh ground.
What was riveting about Rome to me was the miscommunication between the tourist legend and its growing modernity. I was sick of people hazing over its gritty, contemporary side of progressive art culture, making Rome out to be one big romance novel when living here is a hectic mess at times. Transport and infrastructure suffer due to the immovable giants of the city not to mention the city’s rubbish problem.
No one talks about the reams of foreigners heading back home when they can’t take the chaos, fed up with their Roman holiday. It’s this fragile balance that makes it unique and beautiful to me. Where outdoor dance clubs set up shop between ancient ruins and temples.
I was sick of people hazing over its gritty, contemporary side of progressive art culture, making Rome out to be one big romance novel when living here is a hectic mess at times.
I learned the Romans’ way of eating, drinking and dating, and started writing about it. Most don’t see Rome as a viable long-term living option. This is because jobs pay little and usually involve English teaching or waitressing. But Rome’s modernity, only now flexing its muscles gives room for opportunity if you know where to look.
I carved out a little niche for myself using my experience with events and venues from my singing and setting up my own website on alternative Rome. A whole other world opened up to me once I stopped looking at Rome as just an idyllic wonderland. Instead she’s a beautiful siren with a complex gutsy personality.
Have you traveled to Rome, Italy? How was your trip? Email us to at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.
How I Left Everything Behind to Start a New Life in Rome photo credits: Sharon Moran.