John Henderson in Rome: His Adopted Home Town
John Henderson made a big decision about 5 1/2 years ago. He followed the expat dream and he moved to Rome. From Denver.
He wrote a fun story that was quite popular on GoNOMAD about his experiences, and when I was in Rome last week I got a chance to meet him at his apartment in the Monteverde neighborhood.
John is a tall and affable man, profane and willing to go deep. He tells you things you wouldn’t expect him to.
He’s honest to a fault.
As we ate lunch in a Roman neighborhood pizzeria, he told me that his father said nearly nothing to him as he was growing up.
“He was practically mute,” John said. Nothing. He lived a very routine life, watching television every night, saying nothing, he gave me no wisdom or advice as I was growing up. He just said nothing.”
Thank God John didn’t inherit his father’s silence. He’s a voluable man, who cares passionately about sports teams and travel, and about his beloved Marina, who lives 20 minutes away in a different Rome apartment. The most appealing thing about him is how honest and forthright he is. He’s also prone to writing down book and film recommendations, it’s quite endearing.
He’s been studying the Italian language and joining Italians who enjoy holding sessions where they speak in English and John speaks in Italian. He said he’s getting good at the vocabulary, but the comprehension, with all of the dialects and accents, is very hard. In Rome, they drop parts of the words off, so the words are shorter and harder to understand.
We walked the streets of Monteverde, and I noticed that the grass in the median of the busy street was about two feet high. It looked like the front of a foreclosed house. “I never noticed that before,” said John when I asked him about it. In our prim and proper Deerfield, lawns like this are despised. This was surprising in a major city with neighborhood associations and such.
He explained how Rome’s mob controlled the trash pick up, as we passed an overflowing dumpster with pigeons feeding on it. It adds up fast. He said that the city buses have been catching on fire at an alarming rate. It pointed to a general disintegration of simple city services, trash pick up, road repairs and don’t get him started on home telephone installations.
It’s one of those places where you have to shrug and say, ‘yeah, it’s Rome,’ and move on.’
But he wouldn’t trade living in Rome for the world!
Follow John’s lively travel blog, Dog-Eared Passport, he travels often and he publishes full-length old school travel stories.