I've lived in Rome for seven years and although I loved it, I dreamt to expatriate. Dream caused by both my passion for everything "foreign" and our political class.
I left Italy four years ago and every time I happen in the Urbe I'm overwhelmed by a wave of memories. And not just the ice cream "ritual" I talked about in one of my recent articles.
The student's life in Rome really is something worthy. For some two years I crossed Saint Peter's Square every day walking from home to uni, and every time I turned to have a look at the Basilica dominating the place. Sometimes even thinking that it's such a shame that the whole complex of buildings is not available for visiting as the highest offices of the Catholic clergy live there as Vatican citizens.
I've never found quite appealing the Catholic message, and sometimes living only a few minutes from the Holy See was a bit too intense, let alone during the Jubilee celebrations in 2000.
If we consider the heart of Rome the bit from Vatican City to Termini Station, we can say that representatives of both spiritual and temporal powers are pretty much neighbours. Any clashes? I wouldn't say so: although the Italian media like to report the rows between the two, I think the pope has always the last word. In 2002 pope John Paul II made a speech in the Parliament with both chambers united: he managed to gather the highest level of presence of the previous (and probably following) decade.
On the other side of the Tiber, walking through Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Navona, Corso Rinascimento, Pantheon, Piazza Montecitorio, and Via del Corso you might stumble across some white collars (few actually), rushing to the Parliament, with some good ideas on how to make Italy a better place to live (or to come back to).
What about celebrities? Plenty, especially in Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna, maybe coming down from the popular steps of Trinità dei Monti. I've managed to meet a considerable range of actors, singers, comedians, both Italian and international. They don't travel in Vespa anymore though, as used Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
During my university years I even went to Martin Scorsese "Gangs of New York" set, which was in Cinecittà, but no Leonardo Di Caprio nor Cameron Diaz, nor Daniel Day Lewis at that time.
Apart from the political mess (and sometimes the Italian mentality), the city seems aware of its charm and is a hub of creativity, art, talents and heritage sites.
The best place to get inspired: as simple as that.