My Year in Rome: Introduction


A map of Italy from

My year in Rome was the most amazing experience of my life. In fact, the story behind it is unique as well. I was a mere eleven years old at the time.

Actually, most families with school age children who lived in foreign countries did so due to a parent serving with either a foreign government, at a consulate or holding an international corporate job. But that was not any of those situations in my family.

As a single parent with three children, my mother had the freedom to explore living in other parts of the world without employment restriction. In addition to that, the hefty American dollar could go very far in those days, 1959-1960 giving many residential choices. As a result, we could have adventures then that would be financially prohibitive today. In fact, the dollar was worth six hundred lire at that time in contrast to much less today.


In 1959 when taking our annual automobile trip from Long Island to New Jersey to participate in the Passover Seder, we made a stop in Manhattan to pick up my great aunt. Besides being a loving aunt, she was a great cook famous for her cream puffs with mocha toping. The cherry on the top was her ‘Auntie Mame’ adventurous personality. Knowing that my mother and her three children had some geographic and financial freedom, my great aunt suggested that my mother take our family to live in Italy for a year.
S.S. Constitution, American Export Lines, by Tichnor Brothers, c. 1950s, from the Digital Commonwealth – 1 commonwealth 8g84mw21v. (1)


My mother took in stride what very likely would have seemed like a daunting undertaking to most people. For example, this included a thorough checklist of preparatory things to do:
• take a crash course in Italian
• get passports and necessary shots
• make reservations for the nine day voyage from NYC to Naples on the transatlantic S.S.Constitution for the five of us (dog included). At that time, airplane travel was limited and more expensive.
• borrow steamer trunks from every traveler friend, relative, and friend of a relative.
• sell our beloved 1955 two tone Oldsmobile and arranged to buy the latest Fiat to be picked up in Rome
• make reservations for a place to stay when we arrived in Rome at the Villa Eva. I remember this villa turned Pensione as popular with Americans, and a joy to inhabit.
A wardrobe steamer trunk, upright drawers and a case, in cream with faux wood grained mounts (2)


There were additional preparatory tasks as well as others that would need make when we arrived in Italy:
• take the train from Naples to Rome
• sign in at the Villa Eva (Pensione)
• pick up our new Fiat (we got lost for three hours trying to return to the Villa Eva where we were staying)
• register us kids for the American-English, American-Arithmetic International School in Rome (aka)The International Overseas School of Rome)
• find a place to live, actually a nine room apartment
• hire a Italian housekeeper/cook
• and more things that any 11 year old could even imagine would need to be done


(1) S.S. Constitution from Wikipedia


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