I spent the very first days of 2015 bundled up in layers upon layers of clothing, following my dad through the streets of Rome. We visited ruins, duomos, and museums, and attempted to warm up with hot chocolate and Italian food in between. I loved every second of it. I came away from the trip feeling like I had learned so much about the history and the factual sides of the city.
When I think of Rome, it’s hard for me to look past the things I learned and realize that there is so much more about the city that I couldn’t possibly have learned in the few days I spent there, no matter how many museums I walked through. Just as the city of Fort Worth is not defined by its facts – when it became a city, the leaders it has had, etc. – Rome is not defined by its collection of facts and history. There is a human aspect. There is a lifeblood pumping through the city, made up of the nearly 3 million people that call it home and the dynamics that make it unique.
For this second time around, I want to learn more about the people of Rome and how they interact with their city and country. I want to understand what they are passionate about and what they struggle with. I’m eager to see how the average Roman citizen views his or her role within the larger Roman society.
The Italian government is especially interesting to me, and there is no better place to get to the root of it than in Rome, the nation’s capital. I would love to get a feel for how the Romans view their government. Italy transitioned from a monarchy to a republic fairly recently, in 1946 – what are the feelings towards abandoning the way of government that had been the norm in Italy for centuries? How do Romans feel about their President, Prime Minister, and other leaders, and how are these feelings expressed? Do Romans freely protest in the streets, or do they have other means of having their voices heard? Do they feel that they have a voice in their government?
I hope that these things will be easy to observe in Rome by engaging in conversation with the locals, gaging the overall media attitude towards the government through newspaper and TV headlines, and – if I’m lucky – observing demonstrations and other forms of political dialogue.