If Cities Were People

What if cities were people? I remember a friend saying to me: “Everybody says that Moscow is a she, but I would disagree. European cities are feminine, but Moscow is a very masculine one”. I believe that every city has its soul and I am always eager to explore it when traveling. Today I want to share my impressions of some cities whose heart I got to know. I am very curious if you agree or disagree on my conclusions about their character.


“Everybody says that Rome is romantic, but it is not. It is energetic and cunning”. These were our musings in the eternal city. And what if Rome was a person? I asked. Who would it be? A woman, a man, old or young? Rome would be a man, we agreed. Very masculine, hungry for power, self-imposing, high on testosterone and need to show off. Like his emperors, like his huge monuments (hello, Vittorio Emanuele II). Also ballsy, passionate, generous and dominating.

Sharing some ice-cream, views and memories, we continued our game. What about Florence? Florence would be a woman. Beautiful Firenze. With the face of Venus by Botticelli, rosy cheeks, long curls, soft lines of her dress. Maybe, a bit more noisy than on the picture. But with the same serene and classical air.

Florence in pastel shades

And Naples? Oh, Napoli, Napoli… A city that knocked me out. And charmed my man with its chaos. It would be a man or, maybe, a woman, which doesn’t really matter. Because it would be that kind of a gypsy, ragged, dirty, noisy, shouting in its own dialect. Wanting for your money, your attention, making you hold your purse tightly to your heart and never sink your shoulders to relax.

What about Barcelona? Oh, Barcelona is definitely a woman. Beautiful, sexy, seducing, dancing in the warm night with sparkling eyes. Loud, intense, attracting all attention, a real diva. No wonder why she is called the Great Enchantress. And in the songs of local gypsies her name is gitana hechiceraΒ which means “gypsy sorceress”. Because she is able to enchant you for the rest of your life. You can either love her or hate her.

if cities were people
Mediterranean diva, Barcelona

And our home city – Oslo? It would be a man, shy and quiet. Not too old, but with a mindset of a retiree. Seeking peace and tranquility. A bit hipster, eco-minded, with the beard, Van shoes and the shopping net. Nature-loving, reserved, obeying the rules and his woman. Which reminds us of some (many) Scandinavian men.

Oslo seen from the fjord

Have you been to the named places? What is your impression of them?

And what about your city? What kind of person would it be?

21 thoughts on “If Cities Were People

  1. This is a great idea and I love your descriptions, especially of Oslo. I haven’t been there yet but I can just see and feel it. πŸ™‚ I’ve only been to Rome and Firenze (briefly) out of those you mention and I’d say what you say is spot on (goes also for Napoli, from what I hear). Especially in agreement with cunning Rome. Dirty, derelict but playing to be rich Rome. Full of old glory but falling apart internally. Full of road craters, trash. small criminals, busses on fire. And the tourists pay.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are my go-to expert on Italy, Manja! Thank you for kind feedback!
      It is a bit sad that Rome became that kind of city now, no? I mean, it has always been this kind of man who wants power and influence, but it is too sad that it gave way to corruption and the internal destruction, as you observe. In a way, it is easier to be a tourist: to come, eat gelato and leave, slide on the surface. Seeing and feeling so deeply hurts sometimes, no?

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is a direct line from Roman times to now. And it’s bloody, hedonistic, know-it-all and manipulative. As a tourist I hate being tricked. Come on, they don’t even give you money back correctly!

        Liked by 2 people

      • This must be in their blood, haha. Roman culture, well well. At least they have built a lot of it. While we in Scandinavia invent hygge on almost nothing there πŸ™‚ Just building this country up. But honesty, yes. You can trust people here. For the passion and buzz we go other places however :)))
        Luckily enough, we were not tricked this time. Minus the world’s most expensive ice cream but that was Florence, the most gentle lady of them all :)))

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d tag Seattle as feminine….although the influx of condo-building and big-bucks companies like Amazon and Microsoft have turned her into a very crowded, sprawling, and expensive city. It’s still a beautiful place, with the water and Olympic and Cascade mountains around…I’m calling it androgynous now πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree on all the Italian cities for sure! Have not been to Oslo, but that description could stand in for the few Scandinavian and/or Nordic countries I’ve visited. I often think of cities as people and, in fact, did a whole post on some of the Central Europe “sisters” I visited last fall!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting idea Marina! Liked it! I never thought of cities as a person. But sometimes as colors: Barcelona is a dusty orange, Montpellier light yellow. As for personalities… I could imagine the masculine Rome you conjured (Berlusconi lookalike?), and the quiet hipster Oslo. I’m having a hard time pinpointing Helsinki though. Montpellier is definitely a young, fun-loving student with plenty of friends and a bubbling social life 😊 Okay, lets see… Helsinki is an unemployed, overqualified engineer with a double degree in business management, male and too shy to talk to anyone, an internet addict who loves the winter, while mostly staying indoors all winyer watching tv. When drunk, he gets loud and will even watch ice hockey due to peer pressure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh really? Colors is a nice idea too. I have always believed in the city soul, even the metaphoric one. And where the soul, there a person, right? πŸ™‚
      Rome is a combination of all its rulers and their energy. I didn’t think of Berlusconi, but of all the emperors of the past, actually πŸ˜‰
      I agree with your description of Montpellier, this is how we saw it too. Young student, having fun, bubbly and social.
      Oh, nice story about Helsinki! that can be a good start of a novel πŸ™‚ Shy, loving internet more than people, haha, I know where it comes from. But unemployed? Really? Why? Oslo has to work to be socially accepted. It is number 1 subject of any talk, from date to party. No work – no fun, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • But in Finnland people with doctor degrees don’t drive taxis, like in Germany, no? In Norway the taxi drivers are never Norwegian, btw. There are whole sectors were Norwegians stopped working a long time ago :)) So there is work – but no local people for it. Not that Norway lacks people – it is the status thing, it seems.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same here. Most Finns won’t do work “beneath them”. I’m an exception since I’ve been doing customer service though I have a master’s degree. I always have to explain myself to people. They ask why, but why. Well, I need money!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it is good to be Norwegian. With some medium job like a plumber or electrician you can afford a nice life and Spain vacations (not like usual people in Ukraine, for example). And if you are less “talented” than that, I don’t know what people do, maybe, they get unemployed on the long haul, for some “health” issues. There is so much fuss about foreigners like refugees depending on the state for years, but what about natives doing the same? Ah, the power of double morals. We are good at it here :))

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the way you described each city. I can see Rome being very dominating but I think Rome has a sensitive and gentle side to it too that maybe visitors don’t see if they aren’t here very long like us expats that live here. I’ve been to all the other cities you described, except Oslo, and they are pretty spot on.


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