The food is enough reason never to move. The olives and olive oil, the pasta at almost every meal, the bread, coffee, in-season fruits and vegetables, all these and more are a great part of why I love living in Italy. More than the quality and deliciousness of the food is the attitude of the Italian towards it. The food and the meal are not exactly considered sacred, but there's something of that in their attitude. We Americans often note how Italians sit for much longer than we normally do at the table. For an occasion like a birthday or anniversary it's not uncommon to sit at the table for three or four hours. Now this is something I never really mastered, but when watching it in action, I marvel at their priorities. They value the company of one another. A simple lunch-time conversation seems to them more important than whatever might be scheduled for afterwards. I like that.
The driving in Rome is quite a shock for the newly arrived expat. Immediately the excessive speed and reckless maneuvers on the part of the Roman drivers make quite an impression. Upon reflection, what's missing is the police presence. Growing up in New Jersey, our driving lives were spent with one eye on the rear view mirror on the lookout for the dreaded State Troopers. My ambivalence about the pros and cons of driving here is typical of much of what I love and hate here. I don't like the inconsiderate recklessness and even dangerous stunt driving some of them do, but I like the freedom to make an occasional deviation myself from the established driving norms, the rare u-turn, the double parking or even parking on the sidewalk - only when necessary, of course.
These days on the news there's a lot of talk about the malady of coming back to work after summer vacation. They've actually named it "mal di rientro." According to the experts, a full 50% of Italians suffer from this insidious disease. Symptoms: headache, irritability, inability to concentrate, sometimes even nausea or backache. My first reaction is what a bunch of wimps. But then I remember their way is better. Considering leisure time more important than the career is a good thing.
The Italian family is more in tact than it's counterpart in America. Divorces are less commonplace and the grown-up children usually live with the parents until age 30 or more. The low divorce rate must be a vestige of the Catholic influence on society. The kids staying home is usually due to economic necessity. This situation has given rise to a mildly pejorative word, "mammoni" which describes young men who are overly attached to their mothers and usually live with them until marriage. We would say "mamma's boys." Putting the American judgment on it, we quickly disparage the entire society which encourages this. But, once again, theirs is a better way.
And how about the sites? During the first five years I lived here my lifestyle allowed me to explore the art and architecture daily. Today I still drive around the Coliseum regularly and marvel at it's grandeur. Here's a video I found which shows some of the main attractions, every one of which I've walked around and investigated and snooped into countless times. What a city!