There are a lot of things I’m learning about Rome and Italy, and some of them are surprising, so I’ll periodically share them as they strike me. If you know these things already—brava! If you don’t…now you do!
Public transportation isn’t very efficient. I needed to stop thinking like a New Yorker (must live near a subway!) and start walking like a Roman. The buses are often too crowded to get on, or don’t show up for ages while you’re waiting. The subway doesn’t really go very many places, especially not in the heart of centro storico (like Piazza Navona or Campo dei Fiori). But the good news is, everything in the center is so close, you can walk easily from the Colosseo to Trastevere in about 30 minutes, if you don’t stop and shop along the way!
Apartment hunting: It’s just like New York! It helps to work your connections and if you go with a broker, be prepared to pay a fee of at least one month’s rent in addition to whatever the landlord is asking. My first trip here I took the first place I saw and lucked out with a little studio right near the Colosseo. This time, it took me about a month and visits to about 6 or 7 places to find the right one. On a tight budget of about 800€/month, it wasn’t easy to find. Testaccio, where I really wanted to live (a neighborhood across the river from Trastevere, very Roman and accessible by public transport but not so touristy), was out of my price range. I found quickly that being on a good bus line would be key: one apartment took me an hour and half to reach by taking a bus, a metro and a local train. I checked that one off the list.
I became like Goldilocks. One apartment was too small, one was too dark and several weren’t in areas where I could easily walk to a restaurant for dinner (there I go thinking like a New Yorker again).
Finally, an artist friend gave me a tip that a sculptor she knew was looking for a subletter for her apartment in Monteverde Vecchio.
I didn’t know the area but when I went to see the place, the neighborhood was charming, with lots of little shops and restaurants. Two buses stop right by the apartment or it’s an easy walk down the hill into Trastevere to the 8 tram (perhaps the most reliable line in town). And the apartment itself is lovely, with a huge terrace and a view of Rome. This was taken from my terrace after a rainstorm:
St. Peter’s Basilica from Monteverde Vecchio
The best part is that it fits my budget. So there’s no hot water in the kitchen and the “shower” is, well, more of a hip-bath. It’s mine for the next few months, with no broker fee, and did I mention the view?!