Sari: My Home Sweet Rome
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Rome, etc.
I am from Manhattan. I came to Italy for the first time a very long time ago, first as a student and then as a researcher. In 1972, I came back to stay (although I didn’t know that then) and started working for U.S and Canadian newspapers and magazines.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
In 2008, after I left the Italian newspaper where I had worked for 16 years, I started doing a newsblog I called Stranitalia. Then I wrote a book about my life in Rome as a single woman, and American and a journalist for major US and then Italian newspapers. The book is called “My Home Sweet Rome: Living (and loving) in the Eternal City”. Then I decided to do a blog linked to the book in which I relate both events and personal experiences. I also have a third website: italyusersguide.com with entries explaining things Roman and Italian. It should be a book, hopefully after the summer.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Rome differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
As I explain in my book, one of the things I found the most difficult to get used to was the casual way in which Italians use words. For example, if someone says to you let’s have lunch next week, don’t take it literally. In most cases it means let’s have lunch sometime.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Rome? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
This is not a good question for someone who has been coming and going from her adopted country since the age of 18.
We all know that younger people are generally the most adaptable and I was so besotted with the idea of life in the Mediterranean that I quickly learned to “go with the flow”.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Linguistic mistakes can be really funny. My two best: calling a weeping willow tree (un salice piangente) a weeping sausage (una salsiccia piangente) and responding to someone speaking about a friend who was presbite (far-sighted), I said “Oh, I thought he was Catholic”.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Rome?
Learn the language. Do not expect things to be as they were back home. Learn to be patient. (And, fourth, read my blog and my book of the same name.)
How is the expat community in Rome? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Most of my friends here are Italian. I have always felt that if you are going to live in a foreign country, you should not spend your time trying to re-create life in your old one. That said, I do have several close, non-Italian friends, mostly Americans, Brits or Australians and a couple of Germans as well. There are some things that you have in common with people from similar backgrounds that you simply won’t find anywhere else.
How would you summarize your expat life in Rome in a single, catchy sentence?
Trying to Live Rome Like a Roman.