Thursday, September 26, 2013

"che ci vuoi fare"

I read this article today about the five crucial mistakes expats make in Italy and though I understand the point the author is making, I can't say I agree with her 100%.
I personally don't think there is anything wrong with trying to better the place you live in as a native or an expat- be it your building, your block, your neighborhood, your city, and so on. Actually, more people should start speaking up and taking an active part in bettering the world.
Problems with littering and bad customer service shouldn't just be brushed off as unlovable aspects of Rome, they are things that can be changed! If you see a heathen toss his/her litter on the street, you should say something. You'll probably be told off, but so what? Maybe, just maybe, some of your words might stick and the heathen will think twice before littering - if anything, only out of fear of being publicly shamed again. Any civilized Italian would speak up (yes, I can assure you there are lots of Italians who do!), so I don't see why an expat should feel it's wrong to do so. Same holds true for bad customer service- you should file complaints, write letters/emails when service is shady instead of just thinking "Oh well, I'm in Italy". I for one have written lots of letters to companies and even state agencies, and I have seen some positive results. I've even had companies thank me for my constructive criticism because it helped them build a better business and/or offer better customer service. I can't say it happens all the time, but it's worth 5-10 minutes of my time to try and make a difference.
So does this make me an expat who's not well-adjusted? I don't think so... if anything, it makes me a good "Roman" who is trying to better the place she has chosen to live in. Italy, and more specifically Rome, is stagnating because too many people have been chanting that passive Italian mantra "che ci vuoi fare" for far too long. It's much easier to say that than to actually find viable ways to help improve your surroundings. If we were all to adapt that "you’re not going to change Italy" attitude, organizations like Retake Rome would never exist. Expat Rebecca Spitzmiller would've just said "Oh well, Rome is dirty, I can't change it"... but she can and she is!

So while I do realize there are limits as to what we expats can do in our adopted cities, I think it is important for us to maintain our civic-mindedness and to do what we can to better Rome without being accused of being idealistic foreigners.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Win-lose



I use rely on public transportation to get around Rome, so when I first heard about the plan to extend the 8 tram to Piazza Venezia I was one of the few people who supported the idea, and I still do (more or less). Everyone was griping about what a waste of money it was to extend the tram line 400 meters but what I kept saying was it would create for easier transfers.
We all know that Rome's public transportation is dismal not that great and what makes it even worse is the lack of easy transfers. Not just for tourists who might be schlepping suitcases but also just for regular residents of Rome who always have to sprint when changing from one bus to another. For example, have you ever seen the 8 - 75/44 dash? Grab a bag of popcorn and stand by the Ministry of Public Education , you can sit there for hours watching people, young and old alike, frantically getting off the 8 tram and running like wildfire to reach the 75 or 44 buses to Monteverde. It's sad and amusing at the same time. We need seamless transfers, we need transportation hubs- like what we now have in Piazza Venezia (more or less).
BUT, here's the hitch, from what I saw it seems they've removed the Largo Argentina tram stops in both directions. So now the only stop before Piazza Venezia is Piazza Cairoli - which is downright stoopid (yes, with two O's). Let's say you're on the tram and are aiming to take a bus from Largo Argentina, you now have to sprint or lug your suitcases from Piazza Cairoli. Sure it's only 100 meters or so away from the old stop but the the sidewalk to get to the main bus stop is too narrow to accommodate that kind of foot traffic- making it anything but seamless.
A well-designed and well-thought-out transportation network would make it easy for riders to get from one place to another, to change buses/trams/metro without having to jump through too many hoops, without having to sprint through intersections and dodge cars. 
What's worse is, apparently now that the tram is situated in Piazza Venezia, there is no chance in hell it will ever reach Termini, like it was initially supposed to (how lovely would it be to have the 8 tram going up Via Nazionale?). Not really a win-win situation, maybe more like a win-lose situation... 

If you can read Italian, this Roman blogger wrote a good post on the topic:
http://mobilitaroma.blogspot.it/2013/06/miracoli-elettorali-parte-2a-l8-venezia.html



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prima di...

Have you ever seen this TED video about Candy Chang's project "Before I die I want to..."? If not, watch it... then come to Piazza San Cosimato from May 5th - 12th because the project will make its way to Trastevere! Come share your thoughts and participate in "one of the most creative community projects ever"!
You can like the event/group on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/riprendiamoci.sancosimato.5


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

caffeinated crack

I finally made my way to Puglia, Lecce to be exact, after years of daydreaming about it.
Needless to say, I was NOT disappointed. I won't go into the details of how incredibly beautiful the city and region are, instead I'll share with you the most amazing caffeinated crack I discovered while there:

CAFFE' IN GHIACCIO= a shot of espresso with almond syrup (some say "almond milk" but the ones I had were all made with almond syrup) on the rocks. So incredibly delicious and refreshing.
This will be my summer beverage.
Thank you, Lecce!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Farewell, farmers' market

My beloved farmers' market in Testaccio is moving to Garbatella! There was talk for several months about this happening, but there was no set date... until today. I was handed this flyer with all the info.
Farewell, farmers' market, it was nice having you in the 'hood.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

i heart iOS6

I updated my beloved iPhone 4s to iOS6 some time ago but I JUST noticed an amazing new feature that is very handy for bilingual folks like us (grin).
iMessage now has the capability of remembering the last language (keyboard) you used with a contact so that when you write to that contact again, it automatically sets the proper keyboard. Yeah, I know switching keyboards isn't that time consuming or complicated but it just makes things easier to have iMessage do it for you. Love it. Brilliant. Hats off to the Apple team.
Enjoy it, bilingual peeps!

(you can read about it here.)


Thursday, November 15, 2012

What gives, ATAC?

Lately I've been noticing more and more city buses sporting signs (some are even handwritten) saying: "Don't ask the driver for info".
I realize it must be frustrating for these drivers to navigate Rome's crazy-ass streets while tourists and non-expert bus users ask info, BUT (you knew that was coming) what do you expect, ATAC? Not everyone knows the bus stops by heart and not everyone has an app for that. Maybe you should consider listing the stops so that EVERYONE knows which one is which, and which is coming up next. Then they just might stop asking for info.
Duh...