In 2006 my husband, David, and I decided to spend the winter in Rome, in part to escape the cold, snowy, icy winters in Cambridge Massachusetts. But in large part because my husband had stopped working, our two daughters were grown and living on their own, and we had the opportunity to create a new life in a new way.
We settled on Rome because I had spent over twenty years writing about Italian food and trying to learn the Italian language. Rome offered us the opportunity to go to language school and immerse ourselves in Italian culture and cuisine. We both like cities rather than remote country settings. Milan and the north of Italy could be cold, and often snowy in the winters, so that ruled Northern Italy out. We had never been entranced with Naples in Southern Italy. Rome, in the center of Italy, was the logical choice. I remember clearly stating to my husband, “There are palm trees in Rome, so how cold can it get?” That sold him.
We found an apartment online to rent. After consulting many friends about the location which we were both skeptical about, it turned out to be a fantastic apartment in an equally wonderful location: Around the corner from the Pantheon, a few blocks from the Campo dei Fiori the open-air food market, and a few steps from a small supermarket. The main shopping district was only a 15-minute walk, and we walked everywhere.
The apartment on the top, attico, floor of our building, had been recently renovated. Bedrooms and baths were downstairs where we entered the apartment. A small spiral staircase led to the upstairs with the living room, dining room and kitchen plus two terraces with views of Rome and beyond.
School became the Scuola di Lingue Leonardo da Vinci, an easy 20 minute walk, on the via governo vecchio. We went five days a week in the mornings, for the first four years we came to Rome. It was a school that attracted mostly twenty-something foreigners who were looking for jobs either in Italy or their home countries, or entry into graduate schools in Italy. There were the occasional young women and men who were about to marry into an Italian family. And then there was David and me, the “old” couple, the mother hen and her husband. It was great fun.