No, I’m not moving—but I am headed to the States for the biggest chunk of time since relocating to Italy. In June and July, instead of sweltering in the Rome heat, I’ll be sweltering in New York City enjoying the surplus of air-conditioning in Manhattan.
And, of course, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to miss about Rome while I’m gone. Not to mention what I’m excited to experience in New York.
Here’s a (partial) list… so far:
What I’ll miss about Rome
1. Drinkable wine (that doesn’t break the bank). Is it terrible that this is one of the first things I thought of? Yeah, probably. But whenever I go back to the States, I can’t get over how the same mediocre bottle of wine that would cost €2 on the shelf, or be cheap “vino della casa,” in Italy, somehow gets marked up to $40 or $50 in the U.S. Eesh.
2. Easy beach access. I know, I know, New York has beaches nearby, too. Call me crazy, though, but there’s just something about having sparkling-blue, Mediterranean water a 45-minute train ride away that kind of beats Long Island Sound.
3. The festival on the Tiber. From June to August, Rome’s clubs, bars, restaurants, and even shops move down to the river. Stalls stretch along the Tiber for about a mile, and it becomes the go-to place to meet friends for a drink, a dance, or just a lazy stroll. It’s such a great atmosphere–and so much better than dancing indoors in a sweaty club.
4. All things (really) old. I’m obviously a history geek, so whenever I go back to the U.S., I miss being surrounded by 300-year-old palaces and 2,000-year-old ruins. All the more so when I’m walking in the West Village and hear someone say breathlessly, “Ohmygod, that brownstone is 100 years old!”. (Me? Jaded? Never…).
5. Spaghetti alle vongole. Preferably consumed near a beach. Of course, the northeastern U.S. has fantastic seafood (I still dream about Maine lobster). But it’s different than the seafood in the Mediterranean. The clams for spaghetti alle vongole just aren’t the same and, yes, I’m always worried that a U.S.-side restaurant won’t understand the meaning of al dente.
What I’m most excited about in New York
1. Cheap (good!) mani-pedis. I’m not sure if this makes up for the lack of cheap wine, but at least it’s an indulgent-perk alternative. You can get pretty fingers and feet for, like, $20! With a little massage thrown in! In a city where it’s pretty much impossible to sublet a room for under $1,000 a month! Seriously, is that not a miracle?
2. Experiencing a new-ish, and definitely dynamic, place. I know it sounds like an obnoxious-expat thing to say. But I’ve been abroad for long enough that now, when I visit the U.S., everyday aspects of life feel almost… new. I’ve been baffled by super-cheery waiters, confused over how much I should tip if I’ve ordered and picked up my food from the counter, and floored by the number of shampoo options in your average pharmacy. And that’s not to mention all of the things in New York that will be actually new to me, from restaurants to galleries to people.
But it’s more than that. In New York, I find there’s a certain dynamic energy that, for a host of reasons—from Italy’s entrepreneurship-choking red tape and high taxes to the country’s “brain drain”—just is harder to find in Rome. I’m excited to spend a couple of months soaking it in.
3. Air-conditioning. Although this technology has, theoretically, made it to Rome, few locals have decided to make use of it, my landlord included. Since I work from home so much of the time, being able to stay in an apartment where air-conditioning is non-negotiable is something I am seriously excited about.
4. Ethnic food. Yes, Rome has… some. But let’s just say it’s no New York. So for the next couple of months, I plan on making up for any Mediterranean seafood deficits with lots of sushi, chicken bhuna, tacos, and kimchi. Just to start.
5. Absurd conveniences. When I was staying with a good friend (and 5-year Manhattanite) over the holidays, we couldn’t find a cab to get back to his apartment. I was about to start complaining about how the idea of New York convenience is a myth when he whipped out his iPhone. A couple of touchpad-swishes later, he’d hired a car to come get us.
Five minutes later, he asked me what late-night munchies I wanted. “Fresh-baked cookies,” I joked. “Oh wow, me too! I’m ordering them now,” he said. Wait—huh? But, sure enough, there they were on Seamless. They arrived piping hot.
Obviously, lots of these conveniences require some serious cash. Definitely more than I make as a starving artist freelance writer. (Maybe I should start another list of my worries about spending two months in New York…). But the fact that these perks are even available blows my mind.
If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.