A friend asked if I knew the realities of living in a big city like Rome. Our tour didn't go off the beaten path, but we did learn about some issues facing citizens in Italy.
Our guide complained of high prices, which doubled, even tripled, when the Euro replaced the Lira, and of high taxes. Because of this high cost of living, both parents often work. The extended family helps care for the children. Tuscany and Northern Italy are the richest regions. Sicily is a poor area. The average salary after taxes in Italy is $1200 a month. Medical care for families earning $15,000. or less is free. Surgeries, emergencies, and chronic conditions are free. That explains one reason for high taxes. Italy is tough on drunk drivers. Police spot check drivers on Friday and Saturday nights. Driving under the influence means the loss of license.
On a lighter note, Italian men marry late. They love their mother's cooking so stay at home putting off marriage. Population growth is zero, but the country's immigrants have lots of children. Italians are less patriotic to their country--founded in 1865--than to their particular region or Parish. Italians don't like rules and look for ways to get around them. But do abide by smoking ordinances. I was dismayed by the enormous amount of graffiti we saw in Rome and Florence, marring these beautiful cities. The cobblestone streets are narrow and crowded with small cars. Parking is haphazard. Motocyclists zoom in and out of traffic. I didn't envy our bus driver's job.