1. There are no Romans in Rome; everyone is from somewhere else.
Rome reminds me very much of New York in that way. The guy who ran the first hostel I stayed at was Indian. The guy who ran the internet cafe was Vietnamese. The nice woman selling water who I asked for directions was from Peru. And all those hoards of tourists (myself included) are American. I think I encountered more Americans on my first day in Rome than I ever have on a single day in New York City.
2. Everyone smokes.
According to my Lonely Planet Rome, “After New York, Rome is the most fashionable city in the world… but only in the sense that trends are followed without a second thought… slavish adherence to fashion isn’t, of course, limited to clothes…” I’m going to have to call out my trusty Lonely Planet on this point. If it were true, smoking would be rapidly losing its cache, as it has been in New York ever since the city banned smoking in bars a few years ago. No one wants to be kicked to the curb. Personally, I’d like to see Romans “slavishly adhere” to this trend as much as they allegedly do to others.
3. This is a very livable city.
I expected Rome to be at least as crowded, frenetic, chaotic as home, but not so. Though the maps can be hard to follow for someone accustomed to a grid system, and the tour groups can be unbearable at times, it is relatively clean, easy to get around on public transit, and friendly. Everyone drives Smart cars or Vespas and takes long lunches and longer holidays. There are public fountains everywhere to refill and reuse your water bottle. These are traits I can definitely get used to.
**Disclaimer: It is August, and apparently half the population flees the city this time of year, which has likely skewed my observations.