After my brief jaunt to Rome, I thought I’d write a little about some of the differences I’ve noticed between Italy’s largest two cities.
First of all you should know that Milan is very much the business capital of Italy, whereas Rome is more of centre for administration. Italians regard Milan as being well organised by Italian standards, with Rome being more typically Italian, in that there are pockets of organisation but these are often blurred by inconsistencies. Some Romans admitted to me that their city was more chaotic than Milan.
Up to now I’ve been to Rome three times. The first time was very much as a tourist and was in around 2000. The other two times I was there on business, although on my trip before last week’s, I did not go to the centre, indeed, I really do not know to this day just where exactly I went in Italy’s Eternal City as I had no time to wander the surrounding area.
On the other hand, after more than ten years in Milan, I think it would be true to say that I know Italy’s northern city quite well.
Last week, however, I was able to have a quick look around the centre, mainly because I had opted to stay overnight. As a result, I noticed one or two differences between Rome and Milan. Some good, so not so.
The Underground Railway
In Rome the underground railway system is unbelievably shabby. The stations, at least those I used, (Tiburtina, Termini and the Spanish Steps stops ) were dirty and scruffy. Not really befitting of one of the world’s top tourist destinations. And the train from Tiburtina; one of Rome’s other major train stations; to the Spanish Steps, was covered in graffiti. It was also pretty grotty inside too. Still, it cost the same as the Milan metro at 1 whole Euro (eat your heart out visitors to London!) for 75 minutes, and it worked, almost.
Coming back in the evening on the Rome metro, admittedly at peak time, the crush on the Spanish Steps to Termini station run was unbelievable, and after the train stopped for a few minutes in one of the stations, the heat virtually left me standing in a puddle created from my very own sweat. I seriously considered getting off and either walking or taking a cab. I don’t think there was any air conditioning either, unlike here in Milan, where air conditioning units are slowly being placed aboard the city’s underground trains.
No Underground Web Surfing in Rome
Up here in Milan, I can surf the world wide web whilst spinning about town on the underground without any problem via my Blackberry. In Rome, forget it. At least the tract I used did not seem to receive any signal, which was a slight shame. Also something of a surprise for as a large city as Rome, but then, as I mentioned at the start of this post, Rome is not about business.
Above Ground in Rome with Google Latitude
Since I’ve installed Google Maps on my Blackberry, I’ve discovered how useful it can be for getting around once Google’s Latitude GPS system is up and running. Latitutde is fantastic, and seems to be able to indicate your position very accurately, so much so, that by looking at the blue dot on the Blackberry screen, I was able to understand that I was heading off in the wrong direction, and correct myself before I ended up well off track, or, in other words, lost.
I know some people worry about Google Latitude because it can show your Google Friends just where you are, but it is easy to set it up to hide your location from others. The fact that having Google Maps and Latitude is as good as having one of those wonderful A to Z London guides which I used on the distant past, just about out cancels out those privacy concerns.
The only disadvantage of this highly convenient electronic navigation is that it seems to suck the juice from the Blackberry’s battery very quickly. What with GPS, internet, Twitter, email, and actually making phone calls, I find that my Blackberry needs recharging virtually daily. Still, my Blackberry does help keep me organised.
Talking of organisation, on the tidiness front Rome’s central area is about the same as central Milan, if not tidier. Someone is managing this well. Litter on the ground was not really in evidence, and this created a very positive impression, as did the lack of pesky graffiti, which seems to be all over the walls of Milan.
In Milan there was graffiti on the walls and the metro trains too, now it is mainly all over the walls. On the other hand, in Rome, it appears as though the walls are not too bad, at least in the central area, whereas the metro trains have been turned into mobile pop art galleries, or something like that.
The High Point
I was able to find a lovely hotel in Rome, the Cesari. I did not, alas, have time to sample Roman cuisine, even if I now have an interesting list of places to choose from, thanks to my kind readers: Where to Eat in Rome, Some Suggestions
That’s about it, aside from saying that I think I would quite like to live in Rome. Not sure why, but something about the Eternal City is enticing.