There’s a saying that goes “It takes a lifetime to see all of Rome,” and the more time I spend in Rome, the more I realize how much there is to learn about the city, how many more corners I haven’t yet seen. However, after living in 5 different neighborhoods (quartieri), including in the Temple Rome apartments, as well as independent housing, there are a few things I’ve learned about navigating the city and housing norms.
One of the biggest differences is air conditioning (AC). In the U.S. I am used to entering a building and preparing for a big rush of cold air, whereas in Italy, AC is practically non-existent. Believe it or not, it is even sometimes considered “bad for your health.” Another big difference is that everything is smaller: smaller fridges, kitchens, (even things like coffee cups). Many kitchens in Rome don’t have an oven either, but for me it hasn’t been a problem: Every corner of Rome is lined with pastry shops (pasticceria) and bars that sell pastries for a few Euro, and I’ve bought baked food to take away at a tavola calda or rosticceria (cafeteria-style food), who make it way better than I ever could.
Finally, another big difference I’ve noticed is that in nearly every house I’ve stayed at in Italy, drying racks and clotheslines are used instead of a dryer. Although it can be an adjustment, there are actually a lot more benefits to hang-drying clothes. For one thing, it saves energy and is better for the environment. But it is also better for the longevity of clothes. Using a drying machine for clothes can cause pilling, and ruin stretchy material, but hang-drying them will retain the quality of the clothes for more time.
A final thing to note on major differences between living in Italy and the U.S. is wifi and house repairs. Sometimes wifi in Italy can be a bit unreliable: it could be slower, turn off sporadically, or only reach certain parts of the house. House repairs, leaks or minor problems can sometimes be a nuisance as well. It can take a while for someone to come in, and when they do, they may not completely resolve the issue.
As you can see, there are many factors to think about when it comes to choosing a place to stay. At Temple Rome, we have the option of living in Temple-provided housing, as well as independent housing that an individual finds on their own. Both have their pros and cons, but it’s important to think ahead about which aspects you want to have in the place you’re staying.
With Temple housing in Fall 2021, I stayed in an apartment that was centrally located (near the metro stop Ottaviano.) There were 6 of us that shared a beautiful spacious apartment: we had two bathrooms, three bedrooms and a kitchen. This summer Temple added a second housing option near the Vatican, which was a bit further from the school, but closer to other parts of Rome like Piazza Navona. When choosing Temple housing, you can request a housing option as well as roommates, but the school has the ultimate decision of where you will be placed. When staying in the apartments, everything came furnished, and we were given pretty much everything we needed. There was a site where we could put in requests for repairs if something wasn’t working, all of which were followed up by someone who came in. Temple Housing even provides a weekly cleaner.
One downside is that we didn’t receive housing arrangements such as addresses and roommate information until a week before arrival, so we didn’t have a lot of time to reach out and get to know each other, or research where the closest grocery store, pharmacy, metro and bus stops are. There are also rules specific to each housing option to keep in mind: such as no overnight guests, and paying for any damages caused.
This summer I tried independent housing, which also has its own pros and cons. Rome is notorious for having late buses, so I made sure to look for something along the Metro A or B lines. I was also lucky to find a caring host that made sure everything was set for me. It was easier to communicate with her since I speak Italian, but since Rome is an international city, many hosts can understand English. In Italy, I was open to looking for options where the host lives in the apartment because Italians are some of the most hospitable people I’ve met, and since I was living on my own, it was nice to have someone else there. My host did everything to make me feel at home: bringing in a fan when it got hot, fixing the lamp when the lightbulb went out, and checking in when we crossed paths to ask how I was doing, and if there was anything I needed. I heard from a few people in independent housing that their host canceled at the last minute. Luckily they were able to find solutions either through Temple Rome or other stays; there will always be some level of unpredictability, but I think the key is to be in communication with the host, especially the month/week before arrival and reading reviews in advance to see if they have canceled before. Another benefit to independent housing was that my mom was able to stay with me for 10 days, which wouldn’t have been allowed in Temple Rome housing. I checked in with the host beforehand to see if it was ok, and it saved us money and travel time.
As someone who is comfortable navigating the city of Rome on my own, I enjoyed living in a new part of the city I had never visited before, and practicing my Italian with the host, but as I’ve learned, there are still times when something unpredictable happens while traveling. Thus independent housing is a great alternative to Temple Rome housing, but it’s important to understand what you are looking for and see which amenities are offered, and know that when it comes to getting things fixed, you have to work directly with your landlord. It is also good to make sure the stay is easily reachable by transportation, and communicate with the host in advance in order to avoid problems that may arise.