16 things I will miss when we leave Italy

7 Oct
7 October 2016. I have received many comments on Facebook, here, and via email about our impending departure from Italy. Some people are shocked as we are “living the dream.” Why give it up? My next few posts will address the good and not-so-good about both the U.S. and Italy, as places to live. Living somewhere and traveling there are entirely different things. First, what I will miss about Italy, i.e., the good stuff!

1. €1.00 shots of espresso and high-quality €1.20 cappuccino served in seconds at almost any bar.

Notice the cappuccino is not a Big Gulp, but a sensible size. Not so many calories so you can have cake, too.

Notice the cappuccino is not a Big Gulp, but a sensible size. Not so many calories so you can have cake, too.

Why does it take an American barista so long to make a coffee? An Italian has it in front of you in seconds! And it is good! No funny flavors, no 20-ounce mugs, and no paper cups! Even in the tiniest mountain hamlet, in a museum, or in a castle on a hill, you can get espresso. In a real cup. I love my coffee in a ceramic cup and a small cappuccino is just the right amount. 

2. Bars on every street where you can get the aforementioned beverages and good sandwiches for under €3.00.

Fast food is a sandwich you pick up in a bar for €2.70-3.00. Many varieties on a fresh panino with the best ingredients from prosciutto and formaggio to a vegetarian’s dream combo including my favorite, cicoria, They warm it and hand it to you. Maybe you sit down if it is your neighborhood place and not a tourist zone. It’s simple, fresh, delicious, and mostly healthy.

3. Trains

The train we take most often, Italy's Frecciarossa (Red Arrow).

The train we take most often, Italy’s Frecciarossa (Red Arrow).

OMG we love to travel by train. Go to Torino for a day? Sure! Venezia overnight? Why not? We have flown on only three trips in 4.5 years. Love love love the trains and the early-purchase discounts!
See Ric. Ric is happy. Ric in on a train in a sleeper compartment, How civilized!

See Ric. Ric is happy. Ric in on a train in a sleeper compartment, How civilized!

4. The ability to go almost anywhere in Europe with little planning

Instead of mounting an expedition from the U.S., we can explore Europe so easily from Base Camp Barton in Roma. Thank you, cat sitters, for making this possible!
Luscious, tender grilled octopus.

Luscious, tender grilled octopus.

5. Seafood

I always hated anchovies until I had them fresh, marinated. A plateful is a perfect antipasto. Mixed into fresh pasta they are heaven; with mozzarella, a delight! I love pizza Napoletana for its simplicity. Then there is calamaro. Not deep fried little Os, but lovely, fresh, grilled squid. Or polpo (octopus), gently grilled or sliced paper-thin as carpaccio. How about a hearty bowl of mussels in wine sauce? Good reasons to come back to Italy.

6. Wood-fired pizza

One of our four favorite pizzerias, La Pratolina. Smoked salmon and arugula with perfect mozzarella and no "sauce." Divine crust, wood-fired oven.

One of our four favorite pizzerias, La Pratolina. Smoked salmon and arugula with perfect mozzarella and no “sauce.” Divine crust, wood-fired oven.

Yes, there are wood-fired ovens in the U.S. We will seek them out. But simple Italian pizza will be hard to replace. Especially at Italian prices. Will I seem a pig when I order my own pizza in the U.S? Here it is the norm. To not order your own pizza is boorish.

7. Fresh mozzarella available in almost every little store daily

No pre-shredded Kraft plastic, please! Fresh mozzarella, whether mozzarella di bufala or fior di latte, there is no room in our lives for anything less than fresh. Praying that Pastaworks in Portland has it!

8. Wine that does not blow the budget

We spend 75% less on wine here than we did in the U.S., and that is not because we are drinking less of it or drinking bad stuff.

9. Being greeted warmly – even with un bacio – at places we frequent. Loyal patronage is recognized and rewarded.

My buddy il Commandante, aka Marco, and me.

My buddy il Commandante (The Captain), aka Marco, and me.

Yesterday I called one of our two favorite restaurants, La Fraschetta del Pesce to make a reservation. Il Commandante (The Captain) recognized me immediately, was delighted to hear we were coming back on Saturday, and I know we will be personally welcomed as friends. From the second time we dined there, we were “regulars.” This happens at so many places: the delivery guys from DOC, the bar at Piazza Buenos Aires, the salumeria in Campo dei Fiori. You feel like you — and your business — are appreciated. 

10. Our portiere. What a wonderful tradition this is! Someone to take care of the building, help the tenants, keep things safe.

There are no doubt fancy buildings in big North American cities with doormen and building supers, but we are privileged to have a portiere in even middle-class buildings in Roma. What does he — or she — do? Takes in the mail; holds packages; lets tradespeople in; ensures security by not letting solicitors in; cleans; welcomes; takes care of (our) cats for short absences; gathers intelligence. The portiere is the go-to person for neighborhood news. The portieri in both of the buildings we’ve lived in have been true blessings. They have helped me with Italian and befriended us. We shall miss them.

11. Produce that tastes like what it is and that will spoil in a few days because it isn’t treated with chemicals.

Ths bounty in the market in autumn.

The bounty in the market in autumn.

Carrots taste like carrots, but they only last a few days, turning limp soon after purchase. Peppers are sweet and crisp and add immense flavor to anything you cook. Apples are a miracle of flavor. How can the fruit be so darn good? I bought a red pepper in San Francisco last summer. It was organic. It tasted like cardboard.

12. August in Roma

We will not miss the heat, and August is somewhat a month to be endured, but it really is fun to wander around the neighborhoods when so many people are absent. Pedestrian crossings are passable as they are not needed for parking. “Rush hour” on our main shopping street is Christmas-morning quiet. Buses are empty and we get to sit down. It is a culturally significant event, this exodus.

13. The passaggiata and the business in the street, the sociality of it all, even if you don’t talk to anyone.

Getting out for a walk every day is part of the Italian lifestyle. So smart to stroll through the neighborhood, see what is new, pick up some ingredients for dinner. Maybe have a coffee, a gelato, or un’apperitivo. See and be seen, enjoy the weather, then go home to make dinner. Eating before 20:00 is declasse.

14. So many kind people and interesting acquaintances: Our doctors, our landlords, the Embassy people. 

Especially my friend Eleonora. Ele patiently tutored me in Italian until I am finally at the point where I can have a reasonable conversation. Now we are “just” friends and that is the best! We play Scarabeo (Scrabble) together and laugh a lot. She tries to explain Italy to me. I will miss her dearly! 

15. Speaking Italian

Tiring as it is, I do like to speak Italian and I shall miss that daily possibility. My comprehension has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 18 months outside of the Embassy. 

16. Telling people “We live in Rome!”

Piazza San Pietro at Easter. We've had a marvelous time here!

Piazza San Pietro at Easter. We’ve had a marvelous time in Roma!

When fellow travelers hear our English they inevitably strike up a conversation with “Where are you folks from?” We are proud to be Americans and Oregonians, but what a joy it has been to say “We live in Rome!”

28 Responses to “16 things I will miss when we leave Italy”

  1. Taking to the Open Road December 2, 2016 at 05:39 #

    Oh god, stop. My husband lived in Rome for a short time – it’s where we met, and for obvious reasons it’s one of our favourite cities, but we haven’t been back for almost a decade! Are the espressos really still EUR1? And the gelato? Your list has made me hungry! We are hoping to head back next year, and can’t wait!


    • GoodDayRome December 2, 2016 at 16:16 #

      Yes, many places a shot is still only EUR 1 if you don’t sit down. In residential areas there are places we can sit and relax with a cappuccino that only costs EUR 1.10 to 1.30. God I miss that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lovefromitaly November 23, 2016 at 11:56 #

    I am at the point now where I can’t imagine ever leaving… Good luck with your new adventure


    • GoodDayRome November 23, 2016 at 23:35 #

      Hi Paula. I think if you establish a plan to be there forever, you build to that. We always intended to come back to the U.S. in 4-5 years, so it suits us. Not to see we don’t miss so many things: walking across Rome, our non-car oriented lifestyle was so wonderful! But there is much good here, of course, and we are embracing it!


  3. Alesia Piol November 18, 2016 at 21:16 #

    What gorgeous photos!! Italy was so much fun last summer, did you get the chance to see cinque Terre?



    • GoodDayRome November 18, 2016 at 22:11 #

      We did go the Cinque Terre, 4 times in fact. But it is getting unbelievably crowded. Next time we might have to try in winter!


  4. EurekaBits October 15, 2016 at 12:22 #

    Ah, mi hai fatto venire nostalgia di Roma ancora una volta 🙂
    It’s great that you enjoyed your stay in this remarkable country and I have no doubt you’ll have adventures to blog about wherever you’ll head to.


  5. Josh Baker October 11, 2016 at 02:00 #

    I am sure it will be hard to leave. Portland will be different. Just a bit. 🙂 I hope our paths cross some time. I look forward to reading more!


    • GoodDayRome October 11, 2016 at 06:38 #

      Hi Josh! I know I am going to turn to your blog for Portland areas hiking advice.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mvaden1948 October 10, 2016 at 19:58 #

    Ah, we love many of the same things about Italy. I love going into the “supermercato” and having the clerks address me in Italian…not in English like they did the first day.
    I remember being in a little post office in Luciano Niccone and having all the ladies looking out for me because I had not Italian except the word for stamps and the post mistress had no English. All the ladies in line helped out! Can’t imagine that in most US post offices.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GoodDayRome October 11, 2016 at 06:37 #

      It can certainly go either way when they realize you are struggling with the language. Sometimes they just look at you and wish you weren’t there, and often they jump in as you mention and try to help. I have had amusing conversations about food prep, which as you know is a gigantic topic of conversation here!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Nigel October 8, 2016 at 20:15 #

    happy sad. It won’t be the same visiting Rome. I’ll have your cappucinoito for you.


    • GoodDayRome October 9, 2016 at 04:52 #

      Grazie, Caro Nigel! We no doubt will darken your shores again one day. I think a month in London would be great!


  8. ckleonard October 7, 2016 at 16:28 #

    A fantastic positive list of things you will remember forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gayleseely October 7, 2016 at 15:55 #

    Although I await the reasons NOT to live in Italy list, I am – again – surprised that you are coming back to the US. It seems to me that you have a great life there, with so many of the things that matter to you. I hope you are not sacrificing your happiness for practicality. Of course we all have to be practical – especially when getting old – but with time being short ( relatively ) I vote for more days that you love.
    ( Sorry to have to remind you the outcome is the same whether you enjoy your autumn days or not. )
    Of course we are excited to see you, but I have to be sure and ask: can you change your mind and stay a while?


    • GoodDayRome October 7, 2016 at 16:18 #

      Yes, there are blogs to come about the not-so-great. But all in all, we are just ready to come back. Ready to own a house of our own, ready to be closer to friends and family, ready to be in a place where we understand how things work. We will have days we love in Oregon, too.


  10. Zoe October 7, 2016 at 14:49 #

    One thing I will miss about Roma: you and Ric. Okay, two things.


    • GoodDayRome October 7, 2016 at 15:26 #

      Awww, thanks Zoe! Surely you’ll miss Janie, too? 😉 May our paths cross in Italy — or Oregon — some day soon! Un bacione!


  11. Marcia Miller Kakiuchi October 7, 2016 at 13:59 #

    I just love this post and can’t wait for the cappuccino which I do live in Europe compared to here in the USA. And sparkling wines I hope too! And the seafood restaurant will be fantastic as they are your ‘friends’

    We are at the Reno airport awaiting our first leg.


    • GoodDayRome October 7, 2016 at 14:01 #

      Ane il commandante will be your friend too! Sparkling wine is a great way to start a meal. Buon viaggio!


  12. Sandra October 7, 2016 at 13:00 #

    Hi Laurel! Where is that luscious tender grilled octopus found?


    • GoodDayRome October 7, 2016 at 14:02 #

      Sandra, I believe that particular picture was taken at La Buca di Ripetta, here in Rome.


  13. Bill Walls October 7, 2016 at 12:53 #

    What a great story -thanks for sharing. It is so true you have to be there to believe it.


    • GoodDayRome October 7, 2016 at 14:03 #

      I knew you’d understand, Bill. Are you still missing Italy?


      • Bill Walls October 7, 2016 at 15:47 #

        Yes but I am enjoying the USA where I can be closer to family. One day we’ll return overseas.

        Liked by 1 person


  1. What I will NOT miss when I leave Roma | gooddayrome - October 19, 2016

    […] We will miss many things in Italy, However, bubbles are about to burst for some of you…. It is not always a bed of roses living in Roma. In fact, sometimes the thorns draw blood, figuratively. Despite the great food and wine, incredible beauty, and unbeatable coffee culture, the bureaucracy you’ve heard about is real. So is the lack of customer service and caring in some situations. People can be rather self-absorbed. Not in one-on-one situations, but strangers on the street. […]


  2. We interrupt this move for a Swiss break | gooddayrome - October 13, 2016

    […] October 2016. We have mixed feelings about our impending departure. Many reasons we will miss our life in Italy yet in some ways we can hardly wait to get our butts on the plane. (See Missing the U.S.A.) We have […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: