Last week the forecast showed that the “storm of the century” was about to hit Rome. This might have been frightening if it wasn’t the billionth time this has happened in the 4 years I’ve lived here. Schools were closed. So were many offices. Mine wasn’t. On my way to work I actually found myself enjoying splashing through puddles with lightning flashing above the empty streets.
The next day was was different. Pushing shoving people carrying dripping umbrellas formed terrifying mobs bent on reaching their destination without a care for another living soul. Screeching cars skidded past, brakes forgotten as they came within inches of every pedestrian who dared try to cross the street.
You know that classic horror movie moment in which the protagonist suddenly realizes that something weird is going on? Maybe their friends keep disappearing, there are no adults anywhere in the city, or there are people hanging on meathooks in the basement. Driven by the sensation of not being in on some hidden secret, said protagonist snoops through drawers and cupboards until she learns the horrible truth (the apparently sweet family she is staying with are probably cannibals).
A similar feeling of dread may fill you on your first rainy day here in Rome. You barely avoid being run over by careening vehicles, no trains are running, and some panicked lady nearly pokes you in the eye with her madly waving and enormous umbrella. You might also run the risk of being trampled at the grocery store. True, this might not sound a lot different than your average day in Rome, but live through it and you will come to the same conclusion that most of us have: there’s something wrong with the rain.
I’m certainly not the first to make this observation. It pops up in conversation often. More than one person has posed the suggestion that perhaps the rain is actually acid and we expats are just unaware. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Those things falling out of the clouds? They aren’t raindrops. They’re actually attacking. Haven’t you ever seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds?