The Inexplicable

A local on his motorino with pooch! Piazza Tasso

If I were to add it up, I’ve spent many months, maybe even close to a year of my life living in Italy. But somehow, each time I leave, I quickly forget many of the little things that I love, love to hate and those things that I am just totally confused by, many of which you only experience when you live here. Perhaps they aren’t as interesting to you, or perhaps you can’t relate to these if you’ve been to Italy but haven’t stayed for longer than a week or two at a time, but since I have your attention, here are a few observations (note: some of these i’ve already mentioned, so apologies for the repetition):

  • Tourist offices are closed on Sundays – …because tourists don’t visit attractions on this day and stay in their hotels?!!
  • Water pressure is always poor – yesterday I washed my hair under the tap. Yep, it was a far better alternative than standing naked and freezing for 25mins trying to use the trickle that comes out of the shower head (which I have to hold to use)
  • Every second man wants to give you his number – is this just a ‘numbers’ game (so to speak), and they figure if they give it out to enough women odds are that they’ll get at least one call?
  • The Italian Men – need I say more?
  • Italians don’t exercise – I know I’ve talked about this one already. Please explain how you eat Annamaria’s dinners and stay thin without spending 3 hours in the gym each day.
  • Denim on denim is considered acceptable – for a country known for its style, how is it that so many Italians are stuck in the 80’s when it comes to fashion?
  • You’re given half a loaf of bread with your main meal – does my huge bowl of pasta followed by fried potato, meat and vegetables not seem like enough carbs already?
  • Toilets don’t have seats – When I first arrived I thought Annamaria’s must’ve been broken and waiting to be replaced. But it’s never arrived…
  • I drink my water from a disposable plastic cup – why can’t I have a real glass at lunch and dinner time at Annamaria’s house?

Giuseppe, one of my teachers comes from Napoli. The Napolitani are very superstiziosa and he shared some of their superstitions with us in class:

  • The black cat – I know some of you also feel the same way when you see a black cat: ‘bad luck’. For Neapolitans, if you see one you must stop in your tracks, even if you’re in a car – slam on the brakes (partly explains why Naples is so chaotic – many cars, and many cats!) and wait for several people (or other cars) to pass in front of you before you proceed.
  • To say ‘good luck’ is very bad luck! Very, very bad luck Giuseppe tells us. Instead, you say ‘in bocca al lupo’ which translates to ‘in the mouth of the wolf’, to which you must reply ‘crepi il lupo’, ‘the wolf is dead’.
  • Don’t take the salt! If you are at the table and ask for the salt, someone must get it and put it on the table in front of you, you cannot ask someone to hand you the salt. To take the salt from someone else is considered extremely bad luck.

Today in class we learned all about the public holidays celebrated in Italy, and how they celebrate – what they eat and who they eat with. Of particular note was Christmas or Natale and Easter, Pasqua. In Italia, Christmas is ALWAYS spent with family, not friends. It is a grand feast known as a cenone, and consists of several courses (really not unlike ours at home!) cooked by the women of the family. But always always spent with the family… that is until midnight when everyone is then released from the family home to go and party with friends. Easter is different and is spent with family and friends, although apparenly your mama or nonna will always try it on and encourage you to stay at home with the family. For this reason there is a saying in Italian: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi”, which loosely translates to Christmas with your family, and Easter with everyone else!

(Today.. more IT issues so I only have the one photo, taken by some lovely dutch friends I met and lunched with a couple of times – Joanna and Ton… CIAO! xx)

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