Things I’ve Learned Living in Italy

Travel in Italy: Gondolas Rock

I had mistakenly believed when I moved to Italy that the previous four trips I had taken here had prepared me for all possible cultural misunderstandings and missed cues.  I was woefully wrong.  I have a feeling that the learning will continue until I am a feeble old woman chasing my own grandchildren out of my kitchen with a wooden spoon, at which point I just won’t care anymore.

Some things I have learned have been positive, others negative and virtually all have been amusing…sometimes more for the people informing me than for myself.  In no particular order, I have learned that:

  • Soccer is a religion.
  • Your weight is open for discussion.
  • I am too skinny.
  • Putting the “wrong” sauce on a pasta is a crime.
  • Ironing socks is not strange.
  • Americans can’t make coffee.
  • Salt is not optional, ever.
  • Pork CAN be consumed at every meal. Yum.
  • Wine is a food group…this one was just reinforcement.
  • Eggs are for dinner, not breakfast.
  • Your entire life is your neighbors’ business.
  • Dinner before 9:00 is uncivilized.
  • All telecommunications companies are thieves.
  • Good customer service comes from non-contract employees.
  • Businesses closing for a month is perfectly normal.
  • Two weeks of vacation is NOT normal, it’s criminal.
  • Going out without a scarf and gloves if it is below 70 means you will get sick.
  • Going out with wet hair means you will surely soon die.
  • Ugly shoes are illegal.
  • Jeans that are not skin tight should be thrown out.
  • Belts are mandatory.
  • You can walk cobblestone streets in 4 inch heels…it just takes practice.
  • Leaving the house not put together will get you strange looks.
  • It is unhygienic to walk in your own house barefoot..even if you washed the floors 15 minutes before.
  • Tanning is healthy.
  • Paying 10€ for a spot on the beach is normal.
  • 80 year olds in bikinis and speedos are normal.
  • Superstition is alive and well.
  • A guy touching his balls is not sexual…he is warding off bad luck.
  • Italian cussing is much more colorful than most American cussing.
  • Having a clothes dryer is akin to having a bomb shelter.
  • Growing your own veggies is normal.
  • Eating offal doesn’t raise an eyebrow, eating a rare steak is the only way, but eating a rare hamburger will kill you
  • You are still a boy or girl until you are about 40, chances are you still live at home, too.
  • Not having a dark tan in September means that something is terribly wrong in your life.
  • Driving rules, lines on the roads and most stop lights are merely suggestions.
  • Parking on sidewalks and at freaky angles doesn’t get a second look.
  • A woman who can parallel park in the “back in, then pull forward” method is a rare anomaly.
  • Having a cell phone tucked into your helmet, smoking a cigarette, balancing a Louis Vuitton bag…all while riding a Vespa in 3 inch heels is NOT an anomaly.
  • I will never be as stylish as most Italian girls are by the time they are nine years old.

I love Italy.

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