Rome Travel Guide

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Retiring in Rome: a Guide

A very good friend is thinking of retiring, hanging up the spikes.  He's American, but he lives in Rome and has worked in Rome for decades.  He speaks Italian.  So we thought it appropriate to help him imagine what it's like to be a retired older man in Italy's capital--or on the periphery--and to help him prepare for the day when retirement becomes a reality.

The retirement wardrobe deserves attention.  The required piece of clothing is a sleeveless fishing jacket.  All the older men wear them, and not because they go fishing regularly.  No, the fishing jacket is popular because it has so many pockets, apparently for carrying all the objects that retired men carry around, such as house keys and spare change. Ironically, the number of pockets increases as the items to fill them decreases, after retirement.

Regardless of the purpose of the fishing jacket, you'll need one to fit in.

Practice the retired man's walk: slightly bent over, hands behind the back--that's crucial.  Older women don't do the behind-the-back thing, but men do, even though it's not safe (with hands behind the back, it can be hard breaking the inevitable falls).  To compensate for the added danger, walk very slowly, as if deep in thought, contemplating the infinite.

One table for talking, the other (in back of this one) for
playing cards.  

Think about moving to a small town, where older men abound.  You'll spend your mornings at Bar Centrale in the main (or only) piazza, talking with other retirees about Serie A (the premier Italian soccer league), Roma/Lazio, Totti, and all that sport stuff--so read Corriere dello Sport, the sports newspaper, carefully.  The Bar Centrale at left is in Rocca di Papa, below Monte Cavo.

When sitting outside the bar gets boring, you can move into the piazza proper; even that will be crowded with older men.  Lunch you'll have at home, prepared by your wife, followed by a nap and then a return to the piazza around 4 p.m. for more small talk.  Some older men begin drinking in the morning, so

you should consider gearing up for elevated alcohol consumption.  Older men in Italy do not read books--at least not in public--so put the book away and prepare to spend the day chatting, or nodding off.

No matter where you live, but especially in the big city, street life will provide plenty of entertainment.  You'll join other older men enjoying the spectacle of someone moving a piece of furniture up to a 4th floor apartment.

When the city decides to trim the trees on your street, that's a special 2 or 3 days, watching the city workers (and some prisoners who get out of jail to provide labor) trim the trees and cart away the branches.  It's especially exciting when the workers decide that a tree isn't worth saving and cut it down altogether, leaving long stumps.

There's always something going on outside the bar
It's exciting, too, when the "detenuti" (we would say prisoners) 
who are helping with the tree-trimming, come into the bar for coffee
--supervised by armed prison staff, of course

Or you can observe the tree trimming from your balcony (above right)
Of course, you can always walks the dog(s):

Bocce ball remains popular with older men. You don't have to be "in shape" to play.  This club is in Testaccio, near the Pyramid (a bocciofila is a bocce club):

Or, you could rent out your apartment using the Sweet Guest service, and play basketball:

As you get older--and if your wife isn't around to care for you--you'll want to consider hiring a badante (a caregiver).  Your badante will get you dressed, take you out for a walk in the morning and get you to your local bar (the bar's name at right is, in fact "Your Bar").

Most badanti are women, some are men.  Most are recent immigrants, from the Philippines, Romania, and north Africa.  With your badante, you can learn about distant lands and different cultures!

Enjoy retirement!


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