Posts Tagged ‘move to Italy’

A Taste of Tuscany

March 3, 2010

Tuscan Food Festival at its Tastiest

For all lovers of real Tuscan food, Slow Food, artisanal food, essentially all things yummy and delicious, there is another event coming up that you will either completely enjoy or be completely jealous of me for attending.

The weekend of 13-15 March, Taste will be held in Stazione Leopolda.  This is more than just a simple walk around and nibble tasty examples of what local producers have to offer.  Instead, there are actually lectures and speakers whose love of food and intensity in speaking about it can inspire even the most staunch consumer of mediocre cuisine to aspire to culinary mastery.

There are, of course, a huge variety of incredible foods available for purchase.  For those who will, by chance, be in Florence that weekend, these make fabulous gifts to bring back with you…if you are able to hold off on eating them yourself.

Everything from olive oils to cured meats to wine to chocolate is available, as is a wealth of information on a bevy of products and production methods.

For those who must live vicariously through Florentine residents, I will be posting notes and photos after the event.  Maybe they will inspire you to either move to Italy or at least take a well-deserved trip to travel Tuscany next year.

Things I’ve Learned Living in Italy

January 27, 2010

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.

Translocare-or, why I moved to Italy.

July 8, 2009

I have repeatedly been asked by both Italians and Americans why I left San Francisco for Italy.  Basically 99% of the population does not get it. Why does a person with a pretty decent life in a place as loved as San Francisco, take off, leave behind all friends and family and move to a place where she doesn’t speak the language?

My first trip to Italy was in April of 2007 and it was my first real vacation in years.  You know, the kind of vacation where you are gone long enough to require a cat sitter who will not kill your plants.  A vacation that requires a passport rather than a driver’s license.

Turns out I land on what could possibly the worst possible day to arrive in Italy, lunedi pasqua, the Monday after Easter.  Nothing is open except airports and train stations.  Want a coffee, too bad.  Want food, too bad.  I luckily had arranged with a friend that lived in Milan (RIP, D) to meet up.  Two days in Milan and a week in Florence and I was in love with Italy.

Now being semi-pragmatic (emphasis on semi) I did not just chuck it all and stay in Italy like I wanted to.  I made two more visits, one in summer and one in fall before making the solid decision.  Like my friend Nicole says about men, before you make a big decision you must experience them through all four seasons.   The final pre-move visit was in winter and despite rather foreboding weather was charming.

Settling in and finding an apartment were handled in less than two weeks after arriving, aforementioned felines in tow.  A few months of Italian language school made me fluent enough to get by and after a year I actually can do high quality Italian to English translations and decent English to Italian translations, in addition to working my way through any given menu.

So, why?

I have always had an affinity for food and wine.  I have eaten slowly, lingering over meals, sometimes to the irritation of fellow diners or restaurant staff.  I do not think that drinking a glass or two of wine with a meal means you have a drinking problem.  I love real food, grown as naturally as possible.  I love people that feel, really feel and emote.  I love a respect for art, history and culture.

I love my wildy, demonstrative indulgent Italy.  Where working 60 hours a week is virtually criminal and wine is on every table at dinner in a restaurant and kissing your friends hello or goodbye is a law.