Postcards from the Class of 2015

June 16, 2015

ON BUYING SOCKS IN ROME…
June 7-13, 2015
by Brian German (Archdiocese of Miami)

Tuesday began my hunt for socks. In my pre-trip shopping spree I bought 12 pairs of socks from Old Navy. Thinking that this was enough and that I got the right size, to my utter dismay after washing them and wearing them on the first couple of days of travel, I discovered that although I had gotten the correct size, they were still too tight. They were uncomfortable and caused me to feel fatigued much sooner than was normal. When we arrived in Rome, I wanted to buy socks, but couldn’t find a place where to buy them. There are many clothing boutique stores, but they have specialty items that many times do not include socks. Or if they did have them, they were too expensive, (think Lacoste expensive.) Therefore, today, I went with my diocesan brother Omar to the one place that had the best chance of purchasing them: a Mall!

Romans are not big on malls. They like their stuff local, and it shows, the only real malls are located far away on the utter outskirts of the city. To arrive at this particular mall, we had to take the red metro line all the way to the opposite end of the city, the second to last stop of the line: Cinecittá. As we exited the subway, we were greeted with highways, open spaces, and an actual view of the somewhat blue sky, the Roman city-limits.

We finally stumbled into the mall, (there was no big sign announcing the Mall), and entered. There was no directory, so we started wandering around. The first store we visited had black socks but they were too thin and over-priced. After a 20 minute walk around the small mall, we found a department store and I was able to purchase a pack of black socks! Before we left the mall, I wanted to have a look at their supermarket called Carrefour, (maybe they had some protein powder?) As we browsed the aisles, Omar suddenly called out to me, and turning around, there was a section of shelving filled with a few tiers of black socks! I exclaimed, “What! What are these doing here?” They only cost a euro per pair, I was dumbfounded! After canvasing the market, I also bought some soap, and razors. Who knew that supermarkets would sell socks? Benvenuti a Roma!

In Miami, where I am from, I would simply look for a clothing store, a department store, or a Wal-Mart. Furthermore, in Miami there are tons of strip malls and actual malls spread throughout the city, from the coast, to the heart of suburbia, even at the edge of the everglades. But in Rome, either the high cost of land, or tradition has kept national chain stores from invading the city proper. Instead, Romans prefer small business/stores to the national chains that I am used to in Miami. This is good I think, (unless you’re a visitor and don’t know where to go to buy socks.) I also have noticed a lack of bill boards, there might be a few advertisements here or there, but for the most part, one can actually glimpse the buildings of the city.

We ended the trip with a quick stop at the coffee bar for a snack. As we were talking to the coffee barista, she excitedly told us that she was going to receive her Confirmation soon. This had been the first time that we heard of anybody in Rome excited and sharing the fact that they are going to receive a sacrament! We chatted for a while longer and made our way back to the Metro, 20 stops later we were back outside the Vatican, we were almost home.