Rome Stories: Cash, scams and favours to secure a home in Rome

Rome is a fantastic place to visit, but we have learned that it is no longer a doddle to live in. Having hankered for a home in the city centre, we have found a place that is much more satisfactory than our present flat. But it's a long way from what one might have dreamt of.

Rome is a fantastic place to visit, but we have learned that it is no longer a doddle to live in. Having hankered for a home in the city centre, we have found a place that is much more satisfactory than our present flat. But it's a long way from what one might have dreamt of.

A generation ago, foreigners picked up superb apartments in Trastevere for the price of a plate of truffles. Rent control may have kept Rome shabby, but it put it within reach of aspiring screenwriters and novelists. Today the centre of Rome is no cheaper than London. And the astronomic rents force painful compromises. We found one elegant flat with large rooms and plenty of light - but with views of other identical blocks, and no green space for miles. A flat close to the centre was directly above a restaurant with tables on the street, raucously busy half the night.

A friend with a superb flat acquired it by contracting a marriage of convenience with its gay tenant shortly before he died, enabling her to inherit it. A dodge is what you need, a cunning scam to cut around all the other poor souls haplessly queueing up.

There is a former government minister who lives in an enormous 17th-century flat overlooking one of Rome's most famous piazzas. The last time I saw him he was in some distress: a fire on the ground floor had damaged the flat, destroying the bed in one room and covering every object in the place with greasy grey smoke stains. The stench of smoke hung in every room.

As the only people who move freely from flat to flat in Rome are the politicians, he's moving out ... to somewhere possibly even more splendid. The idea flashed through my mind that I might take his place. But it's only a whim. And there would be a dire price to pay further down the road, when I woke up to discover I had become the equivalent of his vassal.

At Cinecittà, the magnificent pre-war film studios, they still talk about the making of The Passion of the Christ.

Director Mel Gibson had his own ideas about the Garden of Gethsemane scene. In Luke 22, we read that "there appeared an angel unto [Jesus] from heaven, strengthening him." Gibson sacked the angel and sent in a devil to torment Jesus instead. He also changed the shooting details. They were supposed to film in a real olive grove, but at the last minute Mel decided he wanted to do it on a Cinecittà stage instead. Huge, ancient olive trees were duly located and lugged on to the set. Rome's brilliant technicians fabricated a garden in next to no time.

The only drawback was that the same studio was already being used to shoot a shampoo ad, involving a terrific, leggy Italian model, with nothing on bar a few bubbles. The two sets were separated by a single curtain. You could look first at one, then the other, I am told, merely by turning your head.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch