So the Dolce Vita blogger group covers different topics about life in Italy every month and I thought I’d contribute to this month’s topic. Thanks to the hosts – Kelly, Jasmine, and Kristie – for hosting this every month. For March, the group is covering what life in Italy is really like.
So I’m very new to Italy, having only moved here a few months ago. And on top of that, I’ve been staying in a very small seaside town, so my views might be a bit skewed. But there are some things I’ve noticed.
The People Here Are So Nice
Before moving, I’d heard horror stories. They’re dishonest, they don’t want to help you if it’s not in Italian, they’re lazy. Don’t even get my cousins started on Naples (I haven’t been there yet). I also heard that Italians could be pretty friendly, which was a kind of half-compliment compared to the other side. So when we got over here, I was cautious.
Now my Italian is weak, so I tried to memorize as many phrases as I could to be better prepared. One of the first things I noticed was how helpful they are. If I speak to someone who knows English, they immediately switch languages so that I can understand them, but if I explain I’m trying to learn, they are more than happy to go back to Italian and will even correct me. We had a taxi driver who didn’t speak any English, who switched to French (I keep getting all my languages mixed up into a jumble). Those who don’t speak English will sit there with me as we work through sentences one word at a time – I literally had an entire conversation on philosophy with a professor who spoke about five words of English. He and I talked for two hours about Dante’s Inferno.
Dishonest, I’m sure is true for some people (and that goes for anywhere) but I haven’t experienced it. If I hand someone too much money, they are quick to correct me (even though most of the time it’s intentional). The other day, I lost my wallet – right after I’d pulled my rent money out IN CASH! The guy who found it was so great – he tracked me down and gave it back, and wouldn’t even let me buy him coffee or anything!
Honestly, nearly every single person I’ve met here – in 12 cities – has been kind. Like, out of all these people, I can think of about one that was less than pleasant.
The Food is So Great – and So Fresh
So I’m not the best one for this because of the small town thing, I think. I’m hungry. We’ve been hungry the whole time we’ve been here. We’ve eaten out, and generally not been impressed, we’ve eaten in with me cooking local recipes and I think I’m doing them wrong. Our verdict at this point – when the Italians make good food, it’s never just good, it’s amazing. It’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten (Krapfens), until the next good thing you eat (zeppole). But a lot of the dishes we’ve tried are…eh.
This is nothing against Italian food. More, I think – and hear me out – I think the culture mix of the US has tainted me. See, Italians rely on fresh ingredients to bring the flavor – and I have had a caprese piadina that says they are right about that (I’m telling you, three simple ingredients, especially when I’m not a fan of sliced tomatoes, should not be that good) – but they go light on the spices and sauces and such. Americans, however, we use spices in everything. Who hasn’t had a bowl of chili hot enough to blow the roof of your head off? In America, there are entire contests that revolve around how much spice you can use. I think Americans’ tastebuds are dead. I think our tastebuds are so used to this intense, smack-you-in-the-face burst of flavor that I am physically not capable of tasting all the nuance in some of these dishes.
The food is fresh though. And that aspect always comes through in taste. I can taste it when I make marinara from the vegetable vendor’s tomatoes. I can taste it in the milk, and the eggs, and such. The food is so amazingly fresh. And mmm, this Parmesan we found at the Salumeria? To die for. I literally have just been eating chunks of it. I was making things just so I could put parmesan on them. It’s that kind of good.
But please send peanut butter!
I’ll tell you what – there is never a day when I walk around town and forget I’m in Italy. The sky is clearer, the sea is bluer, the roads are better. The history of this country just emanates from every building, every cobblestone, everything. It’s insane. The country is inherently beautiful.
Which explains why they grow such beautiful people. I knew that Italians don’t often wear much makeup, but now that I’m here, I get it. They don’t need to. It’s like walking through Supermodel-ville – everyone is gorgeous. Young, old, thin, heavy – doesn’t matter. And, let me tell you, it spreads like a rash. My face is clearer and more even-toned, my skin is softer, my hair is better, my body is thinner. I think it’s in the water.
A Day In The Life
Italy is relaxed, laid back here in the South. Very few places open before 8 or 9. Nearly everything closes between noon and 5, or some portion of that time. Most places close down around 7 or 8. I’ve seen stores not open, because it’s raining and the owners don’t want to come in, or it’s going to rain, or it’s sunny and they don’t feel like it. It’s very go-with-the-flow. I’m not good at that.
Generally, each day I wake up, take care of the animals, and get ready. Then we go down to the coffee shop for a cappuccino and a pastry. After that, we walk around town a bit (with the dog) or go into one of the cities. That’s when we buy food – whatever I need to cook that day. Sometimes two days. Never more than that – the ingredients are too fresh and they won’t last longer. (Can you see how this habit got me in trouble when every single food store was closed for two weeks? So hungry!)
After that, we go back to the casa during siesta, because there’s nothing open, and we sit on the front porch doing whatever we’re doing. Often times, I cook right there on the front porch too (I’m not weird for that – I wave every time at the people across the street doing the same thing). Then, while other Italians take their nap, I moan and groan about siesta, and work, or read the news, or whatever. In the evenings, sometimes we go out for dinner or just gelato, and we’re normally home by 8.
I don’t expect things to be like this a year from now when we’re more established, more comfortable, living in a bigger city. But right now, after years of working 12 hour days, it’s fun to have such a laid back schedule.
All in all, Italy is amazing. There’s good and bad, of course, but day to day, life in Italy is good. I get why my family left the country a century ago, but man, we need to come back. Overall, I am inherently happier here. I love this country.