I figure, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Otherwise known as the old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” And when in Rome in August, what the Romans do is go on vacation. Yes, pretty much all of them. It’s not so much a problem for tourists since the main sights and major shopping areas generally stay open, but for your average resident, everyday life in Rome comes to an almost grinding halt. Or rather, I should say that in order to accomplish normal tasks, one must become like a character in a video game, searching out the one place that *might* still be open that *might* possibly have what you’re looking for. When I used to manage a study abroad center here, the middle to end of July was always a mad dash to order all the supplies we’d need to get us through to our big university arrivals in late August, since all of our suppliers (paper products, etc.) would be closed in August.
In walking about 10 feet down the road from my front door today, I encountered all the following signs:
Randomly reduced opening hours, shops closed for an entire month. My first couple years here in Rome, this was one of those “charming” things about living in Italy. It was like: Oh, well now, would you just look at that? How quaint! Everyone has closed up shop and put the Italian equivalent of the “gone fishin'” sign on their doors: “Siamo in Ferie!!” We’re on vacation! Weee!!
Now I just think to my cynical self, look how happy those little cartoon characters are in the signs, cavorting merrily on the beach with their various beach accessories, overjoyed for the fact that they now have a legitimate reason not to work (as opposed to the everyday “need” to disappear suddenly for continual and unannounced coffee breaks, with a strike thrown in here and there just for fun, and the ever-so-occasional sleeping on the job). Wait though, this isn’t a post about the public offices, where I have personally witnessed all of the above, so let’s go ahead and get into the holiday spirit with the rest of this suntanning city: I’m going with the flow. The ol’ blog is now officially in ferie, until September. I’ll still be working though, at least until the middle of August, just in case you were worried about the trusty American work ethic going down the tubes over here in the Eternal City. Down, maybe just a bit, but not yet completely out.
As far as the blog goes, let’s just say that in keeping with my personal mission of bringing you up close and personal with my adopted city, I’m hereby attempting to give you an authentic taste of what life is like for the average citizen of Rome in August. CLOSED for business. Please call again another day.
However, should circumstances dictate that you are not to be one of the lucky ones like that couple on the sign who can proudly declare “Siamo in Ferie!” this month, then my suggestion is good old-fashioned retail therapy, at a store that never closes. To keep you occupied while I’m gone, I’ve hand-picked a bunch of items for all you Rome and Italy lovers. There’s a “Rome Tourist Survival Kit,” a section on Roman cooking, Italian music, Italian cinema, and Dreaming of Italy. Take a look and see if anything catches your eye. Click here to visit my store, where no one ever goes on ferie.
Buone vacanze a tutti! Happy vacation, everyone!