“Rome is one of a kind. The modern city coexists next to ancient architectural feats. Cars weave around Roman monuments and new buildings adjoin Classical ruins. It’s like a living museum,” says Kelly Medford, of the city she’s chosen to call home for seven years now.
It’s not just the architecture and rich history that make Rome special. Kelly finds the locals very welcoming. “Romans are great. They are funny, open, down-to-earth. I have made many friends here. You can talk to complete strangers on the street. They are so friendly.”
Kelly feels lucky to live in Trastevere, one of Rome’s prettiest neighbourhoods. This medieval district is full of character and abuzz with nightlife. “It’s made for artists with its cobbled winding streets. People hang out their laundry, bring their chairs out into little alleys, sit and talk to each other. I feel like I live in a village. There are many piazzas where everyone gathers in the evening to eat gelato and watch kids play.”
Even though Rome is a bustling cosmopolitan city, Kelly says life is very laidback here. “Italians value quality of life and spending time with friends and family. They enjoy the moment. It is the only way to live here—not getting too worried about the details. I’ve embraced that happily.”
And the affordable cost of living makes it much easier to have a laidback attitude. “Eating out is inexpensive so it balances out bigger costs like rent. In every neighbourhood, there are trattorias (small restaurants) where you can eat really well for $12.”
Kelly says she never spends much on grocery shopping. “I go to a farmers’ market and get what I need for that day. When you buy fruit, meat, cheese and bread from the same people your grocery shopping becomes less expensive over time. Vendors get to know you and give you better prices. It is very Italian.”
Twice a week Kelly runs sketching tours, which she started doing five years ago and really enjoys. “I love meeting people from all over the world. My students are mostly people who have been in Rome before, so they want to take their time to enjoy the city and do something different to experience Rome.”
When she is not running sketching tours, Kelly paints on the streets. “Painting outside is great. People come up to talk to me and tell me stories about the places I am painting. I learn so much about a place by just standing there. Italians come up to me and say, ‘Oh, this place has changed a lot since I grew up here.’ It’s like an oral history of Rome.”
Kelly wouldn’t swap her life in Italy for anything else. “What I like the most is that I get to spend most of my time doing what I love and what I am passionate about,” says Kelly. “I feel very fortunate living here.”
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