E L E O N O R A

Rome | 2019

E L E O N O R A

City  Rome
Age  36
Love life Single
Profession Receptionist at a guesthouse
Years in Rome — All her life
Location — Trastevere district

T H E  R O M E  S T O R I E S

‘I’M TRULY

AND DEEPLY 

IN LOVE WITH 

MY CITY’ 

  • What makes you happy? “Food! I especially love to cook authentic dishes from Rome. It warms my heart when I take care of my friends and family by preparing them a meal. I learned to cook from my mother and she learned it from her father. He was very good at it, while my grandmother couldn’t cook at all. This was peculiar, because in Italy normally the woman takes care of the household and the kids. Instead, my grandfather took on the feminine role when he came home from work and looked after my mother and her two sisters. From the age of six, I started to pay attention when my mother was cooking. When I was nine, I prepared my first dish of homemade pasta. Cooking is a beautiful connection with the past. My mama gives us love this way, and I do the same in return.”
  • What is your best personality trait? “I’m a passionate and very reflective person. I think before I act. Also, I like to take care of other people. If you give someone a helping hand, something good will happen. Maybe not in this life, probably in the next, but if you’ve a clear conscience, you’ll always act right. And I’m patient. In the past, I used to work a lot as a babysitter and children really taught me to have patience.”
  • What makes you different than other people? “Most people my age have a family and their own house and they’re focused on things I’m not interested in. I believe there are several other steps to make first. I prefer to work on myself first, then meet another person who really appreciates me and only then build a family. In the beginning it was difficult to do it differently than everyone else, but now I’m confident about it. Everything changed when I was 25. My boyfriend got into an accident and passed away. For two years my life stopped, like I was living in a bubble. I was a sponge without any direction or focus. But then I realized that when you’re old and look back on your life, it’s important to see things that satisfy you. You can’t die as long as an issue hasn’t been resolved. This insight changed my life. I started to appreciate life again and started to work on myself, my ideas, my project. My boyfriend passing away was a tragedy, but it was also a sort of gift that life gave me.”
  • What is your biggest struggle? “Nothing is impossible, you just have to work harder to achieve it. If I had to mention any struggle, I would say taking the risk of starting my own business. I’m very close to actually doing it. Opportunity is pulling the one hand, fear the other. I fight that fear by researching everything, so I can be confident about things I need to know. I’m also instinctive by nature, so when I sense something is right, I’ll give it my all. I’m very focused, I know what I want to do. I’ll probably make my dream come true and start my own company.”
  • What is your greatest life lesson? “That we should never forget about the love we receive from our family. If we’re lucky to have grandparents, we have to go meet them for a coffee, for a little chat. We have to put in the effort. We can learn so much from them. Even though there were some problems in the family, my grandparents taught me nothing can change the love you feel for your family.”

  • What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? “My father told me that I can do and become whatever I want. It’s fundamental to have a parent who believes in you and supports you, because you’ll be close to your parents their entire life.”
  • What advice would you give to other women? “Every woman should believe in her capacities and skills. In some parts of the world it’s really hard to be a woman, but don’t stop fighting and be proud of what you’re capable of. I think we should all support each other and open our minds, so we understand the differences and difficulties in other parts of the world. In Italy we started the fight a little bit earlier than in, for example, Middle Eastern countries. I believe it’s just a mattter of time for them. All women once started out in that position. In comparison, the situation in Northern Europe is better and especially more equal for women than in Italy.”
  • What are true Romans like?
    “At first sight Romans may seem a bit distant because they don’t know you. It will last for ten minutes at most—as soon you drink a coffee with them, you are his or her best friend, haha. And then you can have dinner together, and so on. You’ll feel this sense of friendship when you walk through the streets of Trastevere. I worked in this area and spent most of my time there. It’s the place where you’ll find the real Romans. They speak their mind and are uncomplicated and authentic, like me. In more affluent areas around the city people aren’t that approachable, while the people from Trastevere are smiley and optimistic. If you have a problem, you just smile and others will automatically smile back and try to help you. When my boyfriend passed away, I got a lot of help from people all over Rome who weren’t that close to me. Apparently those were the people who genuinely loved me.”
  • What’s it like to be a woman in Rome? “Character-wise, us Romans are right between the loud, passionate women of the South of Italy and the quiet, distant women of the North. I feel I am. In the workplace it’s hard to be a woman, because the government prefers men. We’re fighting to have more consideration and more recognition, et cetera. I mean, I may not be the owner of this place, but I manage it. My boss would have no idea how to do what I do. I think women work harder than men and can do the same work better, but we don’t get the opportunity. It’s our responsibility as women to change that. We need to choose studies that will get us further like administration and finance. But women seem to be more comfortable with choosing humanistic studies. It was the same for me, I studied psychology. I think it’s a question of mentality. Many women are afraid of taking a risk. Further on, I still live with my family at the age of 36. I’m a late bloomer, haha. I think 23 is the most common age to leave home in Italy, but it’s not possible in Rome, because the houses are too expensive. An apartment in the city centre might cost you around 2400 euros a month, while the average income is around 1200 euros.”
  • What does Rome mean to you “I’m truly, deeply in love with my city. It’s impossible for me to leave her. It’s a beautiful city, full of history and power. If you’re tired or sad, you take a little stroll in the centre and you’ll find something you’ve never seen before. Rome is like a friend that offers you suggestions to relax and forces you to focus on the solution, rather than the problem. Even when traffic is crazy or the streets are dirty, I can’t hate this city or leave her. Everyone should at least once take a walk through Rome at night, when there are fewer people around and the air is different. There is this magic atmosphere. The Colosseum, the Trevi fountain… I try to speak with the buildings who have been there for so long and hear their tales about what they’ve seen in the years. For me, Rome is magic. It’s not a coincidence that when you turn the word ‘Roma’ around, you get the word ‘Amor’. If it’s possible to be in love with a city, it has to be with Rome.”

Eleonora made her dream of starting her own business come true. A few months after this interview, she left her great love Rome and moved to France, where she and her two friends cook authentic Italian pasta in their own food truck. She goes back to Rome as often as possible. www.icipasta.com

Photos by Piero Cremonese
Make-up by Evgenia Pukhaeva

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