Rome is not only rich of history and art, but also of cultural diversity. The Chinese form one of the largest non-Italian ethnic groups in Rome. The majority of us live in the Vittorio Emanuele neighborhood, the Chinatown of Rome. When I miss China, I always go there, and so do Chinese tourists that come to visit Rome but happen to feel homesick.
The Roman Chinese community that gathers in Chinatown is very active in creating a lively atmosphere enriched by Chinese shops, supermarkets, and of course delicious restaurants. There are several clothing and shoe stores that will allow you to shop without spending too much money. Chinatown also has a few Chinese cell phone shops, where you can not only buy mobile devices, but also fix them. Especially if your Italian is not that great, here you’ll find Chinese technical assistants that can help you!
In the Chinese supermarkets you can find all types of Chinese food: snacks, noodles, rice, drinks, and sweets, as well as some Korean and Japanese food like Korean ramen and ice cream or Japanese soba and wasabi. The most famous Chinese supermarket is a store called Ocean Pacific Trading on Via Principe Eugenio. This supermarket has been open since 1990, and it has built strong customer loyalty. Most Chinese people like to go there to get groceries rather than other newly opened Chinese supermarkets because the good value. Recently, the store began selling Bingtanghulu, a traditional snack of candied fruit made out of Chinese hawthorns (red berries), grapes, kiwis, blueberries, strawberries, or pineapples covered in hard sugar syrup and sold on long bamboo skewers. Eating Bingtanghulu reminds me of the lively atmosphere of Wangfujing, one of the most famous snack markets in Beijing.
Restaurants in Chinatown offer traditional Chinese food from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Zhejiang. One of my favorite restaurants is La Sorgente, which combines Chinese and Italian cuisine. Here you can also try the “hot pot,” a big pot of boiling water served in the center of the table in which one can cook meat, veggies, and noodles: a perfect dinner treat to warm up in the winter!
Roman Chinatown makes me feel like I am still part of a Chinese community even if I live very far from China. At the same time, I am also fascinated by the fact that I can enjoy a multicultural atmosphere in the interaction with other foreign communities that are becoming more and more interested in Chinese traditions and culture.
JCU Class of 2016
Hometown: Rome, Italy