Experiencing Italy: My Favorite Roman Neighbors, by Danielle Russo

I’ve written a bit about the essential experiences travelers should encounter in the bel paese … but five things do not a full Italian experience make.

As I mentioned last week, I’m launching a new series where guest travel bloggers each share their idea of the perfect Italy experience.

Today’s guest, Danielle Russo, owner of When in Rome Tours and B&B shares her favorite experience-getting to know her neighbors.

Welcome to My Bella Vita, Danielle and thank you for sharing.


One of the things I love most about living in Rome is how on any given day when I step out into city, I needn’t go far before stumbling into some truly exceptional characters. While some might call them crazy, I think they are part of what makes Rome such an amazing city to live in.

In today’s post I’d like to introduce you to a few of my favorite Roman “neighbors.”

The rush-hour barber

When you care about your hair as much as this man does, there is never a wrong time or place to stop for a trim. Not even the middle of a busy intersection during rush hour traffic.

Homeless Diva
(pictured above)

Upon first glance, this woman may appear to be just your average garden variety beggar. As you get closer, you will find that she actually has a beautiful operatic voice. With a simple but extreme makeover one could replace those dirty high waist jeans, faded t shirt and hand jingles with a gown, a henna treatment and some jewels and she would be worthy of the stage.

The Shoe Man of San Giovanni

On the corner of Via Sannio and Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano there is a truck. Inside that truck miracles happen.

Whether you have a strappy sandal emergency, a busted stiletto heel that has fallen victim to the Roman cobblestone streets, or even if you are just out doing some plain old “sole searching”, this is your man. He is chatty, has odd taste in vehicles and is a bit eccentric, but rest assured, he can fix any shoe you bring him quickly and cheaply. He reminds me of one of things I love most about living in Italy: when things break, we fix them rather than tossing them out in order to buy the latest model.

Il Pazzo Di Piazza Barberini

Perhaps my favorite of all is Egidio (also known as “the crazy” of Piazza Barberini). Egidio can usually be seen making the rounds at Piazza Barberini, receiving messages from other galaxies through a pocket radio and an antenna made out of aluminum foil (or a feather, as featured in the photo). He loves to talk to passersby, and is NOT camera shy. Egidio is known and loved here in Rome, he even has a facebook fan page with nearly 4,000 fans to prove it.

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7 Responses
  1. Priceless. 🙂

    Truly it’s the people that make the place – even somewhere that’s as overwhelmingly famous for its architecture as Rome. Egidio fully deserves his Facebook fame. Can he pick up the internet with his head-gear? I wonder if he knows how famous he is….

    Ha! Love it, Mike.

    .-= Mikeachim´s last blog ..Why Robin Travels =-.

  2. Emily

    Egidio! Il mio pazzo preferito! How fun to see him in this post. :-)I would see him in Piazza Barberini while living in Rome, alternately yelling at cars, dancing around the center by the fountain, and hollering at passerbyers who stared (including moi). Now that I know he has a Facebook page, I must join his online fan club. 🙂 Reading this post was a wonderful little reminder of the bel paese that put a smile on my face!

    I’m so happy to hear this post made you smile! Personally, I’m gonna be very disappointed next time I’m in Rome if I don’t see him!

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