When I arrived in Siena five or so years ago, my roommate was nowhere to be found. I didn’t have keys, so I sat on my suitcase and watched kids play soccer on the stone street until Maria returned from her shopping spree to let me in. This time around, my landlady, Oriana, a native Roman, was waiting for me when I arrived and she showed me around the neighborhood and helped me purchase a weekly travel pass (FYI travelers, the 16 euro pass is good for buses, trams and the metro).
At one point, Oriana complimented me on my English. I thought this was weird, but brushed it off as a miscommunication (we’d been speaking half in Italian/half in English). Turns out the school told her I was German. Is this what it’s come to? Has our status in the world fallen so low that Americans must now masquerade as Germans? But Oriana was OK with it when she discovered my “secret.” I just laid on the old Yankee charm. (I kept commenting on the cleanliness of the trams. She kept saying, on no, they’re not clean. We were having this conversation in Italian and I later realized that I was saying the trams were really dirty and Oriana was saying they weren’t).
Anyway, Oriana is a little doll, but I’m not living with her. I have two roommates, one Spanish and one Ukrainian. I like my place and Oriana said she’d come back to check on things on Monday. I wanted to hug her goodbye as she left, but I held back. She was expecting a German after all.