A pastime I have managed to smoothly transition into my life in Rome is my voracious magazine consumption. I’ve been obsessed with magazines since my teenage years…..food, travel, wine, beauty, women’s, fashion, men’s, lifestyle, etc. I love ’em all! I would always have stacks upon stacks in my room, and to this day, I still hate when the time comes to go through them and decide which are getting tossed. I know it’s something that has to be done because I can’t keep all of them forever, but it’s with a heavy heart that I undertake this task. I enjoy skimming the pages or reading from cover-to-cover or just picking a select few articles and columns that tickle my fancy. Magazines are beautiful! They educate and inform as well as spark creativity…what’s not to love? Each time I dispose of one, I feel like a little piece of me has gone with it.
I have always had an abnormally large amount of magazine subscriptions delivered to my home, but I also found pleasure in browsing magazine selections; cover after cover beckons you as your eyes wander from an appetizing bowl of pasta to an exotic emerald beach to a high fashion aesthetic to a bikini-clad woman with covetable abs, among other appealing colorful images. Book stores such as Barnes & Noble usually have a substantial magazine section and you can find a magazine for any taste or interest at Universal News, which has locations all over NYC, or the palatial Hudson News store in Grand Central.
Here in Rome, my iPad digital subscriptions allow me to keep up with my American magazine reading and while it’s not the same as holding an actual tangible magazine in my hands, the iPad is better than nothing so I’ll take it. To satiate my desire to feel glossy, bound paper between my fingers, I’ve gotten into the habit of reading Italian magazines. Not only do I get to indulge in keeping one of my favorite pastimes alive, but it’s a good vocabulary builder as well as an efficient way to stay looped in on Italian happenings. The caveat? It’s not like magazine shopping in New York, sadly. I can’t find any bookstores with substantial magazine sections–Duane Reade has a better magazine selection than Italian bookstores. There are newsstands all over Rome, but you don’t visit those to just “shop for magazines”….you visit for a specific reason, such as to buy this week’s Vanity Fair. Or today’s La Repubblica. Or a metro ticket. Plus, they’re not the same as being inside a real store.
There is a magazine store on Via Cavour, just near the corner Via dei Serpenti, but that’s not the same either. When I enter, the cashier stops what he’s doing, stands to attention, and watches me browse. Pressure! I usually wind up following my inner, which voice tells me, “Just grab something! Anything! And go!” One day, two of his friends were with him and as soon as I entered, he immediately shut off the TV and all three greeted me with smiling buongiornos, their guilty expressions recalled those of children whose parents had just walked in on them watching something they’re not supposed to. With three pairs of eyes on me, I felt triple the pressure. I grabbed the first magazine I saw–Italian Marie Claire–fumbled around so I could pay him with exact change, thanked him, then took off like a bat out of hell. I was probably in there for less than 30 seconds. I swear I have never counted out exact change so fast in my life. God only knows what the heck they were watching.
I did manage to find some comfort at Milano Centrale, though! There is a Hudson News inside the train station, and while it’s not as large as the Grand Central outpost, I can browse undisturbed and take as much time as I need to make a thoughtful purchase sans pressure.
All this being said, io amo Italian magazines! My faves to date–in no particular order–are Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair, Sale & Pepe, La Cucina Italiana e Dolce Salato, and I look forward to further immersing myself in next month’s issues.