The cost of living in Rome is considerably higher than in other places we have lived. Even considering that in Muscat we bought mostly imported foods, expenses seem higher here in Rome. We have a pretty good estimate of what we have spent since we know how many euros we brought to Italy with us and how many euros we have extracted from the automatic teller machine. Living costs seem to be €46/day ($59/day) excluding rent for our apartment in Rome and all of our expenses in the United States. We eat out but carefully choose the restaurant with an eye to the cost. There’s a restaurant down at the end of our street with a typical cost of €100 per person excluding drinks. We haven’t tried that restaurant, yet. One of the great experiences in Italy is a nice dinner at a sidewalk restaurant, and there are many in our neighborhood.
Grocery prices are relatively high. We have collected a few representative products and converted their weights and costs to US dollars per pound or per gallon. We normally buy bread in a 400 gram loaf for €1.48 ($2.10/lb). Grapefruit (usually from Turkey) and navel oranges are $0.90/lb. Rock melon and bananas are $1.30/lb. Cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, and apples run about $1.50/lb. Lettuce and bell peppers are $2.00/lb. Dry cranberries are $9.50/lb. Fresh blueberries are $11.73/lb. Low fat milk is $7.50/gallon and non-fat is a little more, but it doesn’t appear in the stores very often. Ice cream from the freezer section of the grocery store runs $42.50/gallon. Eggs are $4.98/dozen. Coffee is $7.39/lb, but I haven’t found a kind I like, yet, and there isn’t a Starbucks in Rome. Boneless and skinless chicken breast is $7.10/lb and hamburger patties are $7.95/lb. Sliced ham lunchmeat is $14.20/lb and sliced turkey lunchmeat is $15.48/lb. Cod fish steaks are $15.85/lb and boneless beef steak is $16.99/lb (but requires a lot of beating to tenderize).
There are four grocery stores near our apartment. They are from two chains, Carrefour and Despar. All of them are very small and crowded. They don’t carry a great variety of foods, but we can find enough to eat well. The stores seem to carry a lot of processed foods: various raviolis, toasted breads, and prepared salads and sandwiches. One of the stores has a fresh fish section that is open two days per week. There is a butcher shop in one of the stores selling fresh meats. However, most of the meats available are cured meats. We have found something that is a reasonable approximation of bacon stacked with the cured meats. Portions are small in these small stores. There is even a special word for 100 grams, “etto”, since people tend to buy in smaller quantities. They fit more easily into the smaller refrigerators and smaller kitchens. The tomato juice we normally buy comes in 125 milliliter glass bottles (a soda can has 330 ml). In addition to the grocery stores, there is a daily outdoor market in Campo di Fiori, a piazza near our apartment.
One of the easiest meals is pizza, and there are pizzarias every couple of blocks. Most often, we just pick the kind of pizza we want and how much. It is weighed and put into the oven while we pay for it. The pizza is handed to us wrapped in paper and we eat it while walking down the street. Pizza runs €12-17/kg ($7-10/lb). That would be 6-9 € ($7-10) for large pizza slices for the two of us. Sitting down at a table in a restaurant for a pizza will cost about twice as much as take-out. After a morning walking and standing in a museum, it is nice to sit down to eat.
Once in a while we like to indulge in an ice cream cone at our favorite “gelateria”, a few blocks from our apartment.