Neighborhoods of Rome
For close to 3000 years, water has shaped and shifted the way Rome developed as a city and a civilization —from the draining of the marshes to the aesthetic beauty of the Trevi Fountain.
The inhabitants of Ancient Rome enjoyed heated baths, in which the entire room was the tub.
They also had some of the earliest human waste disposal systems —courtesy of ingeniously used water.
Even back then, the municipal government was on the ball, because each household's name was written on a lead sheathed pipe that supplied them, and they were billed according to the size of the nozzle on the pipe.
As mundane as that may seem, it was part and parcel of which residential districts became home to the elite, who could afford new conveniences as they developed over the years, and which remained the poorer quarters.
The Rome of today has been overhauled to be almost unrecognizable, when compared to even a hundred years ago. The central portion of the city experienced major renovations, and more and more people, often working two jobs, moved to the suburbs, draining off the overcrowding in inner Rome. Two of the more interesting areas of the city, for very different reasons, are Trastevere, and EUR.
Literally translated, Trastevere means "over the river", since it is separated from the centre of Rome by the Tiber river. It is one of the very few areas to escape modernization, and stands as a final bastion of medieval Rome, with a charming and eclectic selection of things to see and experience.
It is highly popular with tourists, particularly the younger set, and draws them in numbers to the chocolate shops, Internet cafes, restaurants and bars. Despite the "foreign invasion", it has managed to hold onto its uniquely Roman character, as a community full of narrow lanes, wash hung out on lines, and shrines on the corners of residential streets.
A short walk will take you out of the tourist crush and onto the quieter streets near the river, where you might visit one of Rome's more interesting churches, Santa Cecilia en Trastevere. Dedicated to the patroness of music, there is a statue by the alter, reportedly fashioned on the remains in her coffin which had been opened in the 16th century, to reveal the saint, untouched.
At the opposite end of the ambience scale, is EUR, a most unusual suburb of Rome, which owes its existence and atmosphere to Mussolini and the Fascist Party, whose grandiose plans for a Universal Exhibition celebrating fascism, faltered at the start of WWII.
Only partly finished, plans were taken up again after the war, without the political agenda behind them, and with a new modernist eye. The acronym for Esposizione Universale Romana, stuck to the area, and it's known as EUR today, an area of wide spaces, open boulevards, and well-to-do young residents with fast cars.
On the commercial side, there are a good many business offices, museums, restaurants, and stores that appear to thrive on a fair number of visitors.
There are two outstanding architectural features to EUR, the first being the imposing modernized Romanesque Palazzo dei Congressi. The other is the Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro, known as the "square colosseum". Conceived in 1937 as a tribute to the accomplishments of the Italian people, by and large, it has done little to fulfill that dream, having served various purposes for short periods, then being abandoned for something else. Currently, there are plans for an audio-visual museum.
Cost of Living
No matter which area of Rome you find yourself in, the price of everyday conveniences or items is fairly reasonable. (Prices as of March, 2014)
- 1.5 litre bottle of mineral water: 0.45 euro
- city centre bus ticket: 1.50 euro
- cinema ticket: 8 euro
- three course meal with wine or beer: 25 euro and up
But if you'd like a more detailed idea of living costs, or just a comprehensive look at the city, including the climate, tourist issues, and things to consider if you're thinking about living there, the US Embassy in Rome has some really invaluable information.