First Time On Surviving In Italy?

Your First Time Here? STOP. This is mostly a humor blog. If you’re offended easily or struggle with sarcasm or irony you should skip my website and watch this instead. Also, I swear, kind of all the time and ramble on about the capybara. You still there? Winning! I’ve Put Together Some Of My Most Popular Posts For You To Start With:

How To Move To Italy

10 Reasons That I’m Surprised That Someone Married M.E.

In My Husband’s Family, Leaving The Table Is Like Announcing You’ve Eaten A Child 

21 Ways To Survive Being An Expat 

Why Everyone Should Live In Italy At Least Once In Their Lives

25 Things I’ve Learned About Italy 

Christmas In Italy 2013: The Time The Blowdryer Ate My Mother-In-Law’s Head

Moving To Italy: Studying And Living 

13 Things That I’ve Learned From Marrying An Italian Man

Frequently Asked Questions: Jobs, Immigration, Circumcision, Love

 

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31 Reasons You Would Be Better Off In Italy

1. You love pizza. Honestly, you love all carbs.

Mamma mia la pizza!</p><br /> <p>smilingfork:</p><br /> <p>Margherita Pizza<br /><br /> Difficulty: ★★☆☆☆ (easy)<br /><br /> Yield: 8 slices<br /><br /> Ingredients:<br /><br /> 1 cup (6 ounces) of water<br /><br /> 1 packet of active-dry yeast (if using instant yeast, you don’t need to dissolve it during the first step)<br /><br /> 3 cups (10 ounces) whole wheat or unbleached all-purpose flour<br /><br /> 1/2 tsp salt<br /><br /> 4 tablespoons brown sugar<br /><br /> Toppings:<br /><br /> 1 cup artichoke hearts<br /><br /> 3 cups tomatoes, chopped<br /><br /> 1/4 cup oregano, destemmed<br /><br /> 1/4 cup basil, destemmed<br /><br /> 1/4 cup parsley, destemmed<br /><br /> 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese<br /><br /> 3/4-1 cup mozzarella cheese<br /><br /> Olive Oil<br /><br /> Parmesan cheese<br /><br /> Directions:<br /><br /> Between 30 minutes-1 hour before baking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you plant to use a baking stone, place it in the middle of the oven. Add lukewarm water to yeast and whisk and stir yeast thoroughly into water. Allow the yeast a few minutes to dissolve. Measure flour into a mixing bowl, add salt and use your hand or whisk to combine. Pour water-yeast over flour mixture and use your hands or a wooden spoon to combine. Turn dough onto counter with extra flour and knead until flour is incorporated. Roll onto parchment or pizza stone in whatever method you know best.<br /><br /> Brush dough with a little olive oil and add all ingredients except cheese. Bake for 5 minutes and rotate pizza 180-degrees. Bake for an additional 3 minutes and then sprinkle cheese over top. Leave in oven an additional 3 minutes or until the edges of your pizza are golden and crispy.<br /><br /> Remove pizza from oven and cool on wire rack for five minutes.<br /><br />

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2. Good wine is more important to you than lots of money.

http://mutui.blogosfere.it/

3. Tiny coffee is your favorite way to start your day.

amberanda.blogspot.com

4. Flowers in windows were made for you.

RickZullo

RickZullo.com

5. You love dogs (and don’t mind occasionally stepping in shit).

Sperlonga, Italy

Sperlonga, Italy

6. Frolicking in vineyards has always seemed like your calling in life.

wikipedia.org

7. Have you always wanted to drink wine on church steps at night? Or anywhere for that matter?

Santa Croce

Santa Croce


8. Your feet are destined for great things like walking on hand-chiseled cobblestone.

thecinderellaproject.blogspot.com

9. No, but seriously, you really love food. You’ll stab someone over some pizza.

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10. You’re really good at talking with your hands.

swide.it

11. You’d spend all day at a Farmer’s Market if you could.

almosthijau.wordpress.com

12. This I Love Lucy episode was your favorite…

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13. Soccer is pretty much your favorite thing ever.

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14. You’ve dreamed of marrying an Italian man

D&G

15. Or an Italian woman

http://www.beautyandthedirt.com/

16. It’s your dream to drive a tiny car

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17. Maybe even a little scooter.

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18. Having your dog pose with youagainst beautiful backdrops is kind of a big deal.

19. You just really like to relax and hang out wherev.

www.Italymagazine.com

20. Italian music makes you feel like dancing

musicroom.it

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21. You’re not afraid of a little passionate yelling.

Haagan-Daaz

22. Growing up you always thought about becoming an artist

wikipedia.org

23. Or maybe you’re just a huge fan of chest hair

http://misstrionics.tumblr.com/

24. You don’t really care about quality television or the image of an old pedophile gawking at a teenager doesn’t make you vomit in your mouth.

Reuters.com

25. Going out at night with friends, regardless of age, whether or not you have kids, is something that you’d love to take part in.

comune.fi.it

26. Public kissing is pretty much your favorite thing.

Couple kissing in Florence 

27. Intense eye contact makes your panties/boxers drop.

siriusly-delectable.tumblr.com

28. The beach is always calling

www.secretitaly.it

29. Gourmet sandwiches are on your list of things you need in your life on the daily.

jforjackie.com (this picture is of two panini from i fratellini, my favorite sandwich place in Florence).

30. You’re a lover of breathtaking architecture and the suburbs suck the life our of you.

The Duomo, Firenze

The Duomo, Firenze


31. You crave simplicity and innocents among chaos and contradiction.

Florence,Italy. survivinginitaly.com

Florence,Italy. survivinginitaly.com

Park in Florence. survivinginitaly.com

Park in Florence. survivinginitaly.com

Singing, "That's Amore." Alixanne Loosle. Survivinginitaly.com

Singing, “That’s Amore.” Alixanne Loosle. Survivinginitaly.com

Always something about fascism. survivinginitaly.com

Always something about fascism. survivinginitaly.com

survivinginitaly.com

survivinginitaly.com

survivinginitaly.com

survivinginitaly.com

The Difference Between Stereotypes And Cultural Characteristics

I’ll be the first person to admit that when you live abroad it can be pretty difficult to be fair and avoid putting people into one large category. It’s human nature to group people in a way that makes it easier to understand them, identify them, avoid or relate to them. When your world is confusing you’ll try to make sense out of it in one way or another. 

One of the first things that I caught myself doing as I parachuted into Italy was compare everything to my own culture, and figure out how I could fit in. It was especially difficult for me coming from a degree in sociology. People were practically test subjects. Observing cultural characteristics is totally fine, and totally necessary if you ever want to comfortably live somewhere. However, it’s important to avoid stereotypes as much as possible. Stereotypes kind of piss people off, justifiably so. I’ve spent the past five years being stereotyped as, “that probably slutty, stupid American who hates family and love and probably stabbed her teddy bear to death as a child.” Writing a blog about living in Italy can be kind of sticky since I spend a lot of time discussing my experiences, making the occasional cultural and social observations, all while trying not to be too much of an asshole. There is a difference between dialogue, observations, and just being a dick. Even while being conscious of it, it’s kind of difficult to avoid being ethnocentric, though. It happens.  It’s especially rough when I’m away from home, feeling nostalgic, and some crazy lady is screaming at me in the street because MY DOG IS TOO SKINNY, and then twenty old men in the bar are rambling about their hero Berlusconi. It can be really, really, difficult. 

So, how do you observe the world around you without stereotyping? What is a stereotype in the first place? You’d be surprised by how many people don’t know the difference between cultural characteristics and stereotyping. I’ve found that people really love to scream STEREOTYPE anytime you say something about their country or culture that they don’t like. “The number one cited reason for divorce in Italy is the mother in law.” “STEREOTYPE!” Not really, guys, it’s a reported statistic. Kind of embarrassing but totally doesn’t make it a stereotype. “Americans are a relatively religious people.” “BULLSHIT! I’m not! Stop stereotyping!” Not a stereotype, among developed countries, the US is ranked as one of the most religious. Surprised? I’m totally not. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it a stereotype, and just because you’ve seen one or two people do it, doesn’t necessarily make something a cultural characteristic, either.

WHAT THE SHIT IS A STEREOTYPE THEN!?

A Stereotype: “Stereotypes are assumptions based on unfounded ideas about a group, not identifying particular characteristics of a group of people.”

WHAT THE HELL!? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TELL!?

  • Culture refers to the “cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, clothing, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.”

Basically, the difference is: Did you see two people do something and then decide it applied to everyone ever or is there some kind of statistical, learned, passed on, or historical evidence to back it up? 

Italian Stereotypes That Make Me Laugh:

  • Students often come to Italy and are impressed with Italians magical abilities to be hospitable. Hospitality is a part of the culture, however, that doesn’t make Italian people particular nice. Newbies come and observe everyone through rose-tinted lenses, “These magical creatures, also known as Italians, are so nice, and warm. Every moment around them is like an embrace from a cookie-scented Keebler elf.”  Riiiiight.
  • The other stereotype is that Italians are aggressive, feisty, and mean. Not really. The form of communication is different in Italy than in the US. Gesturing is a part of their language, and they have different rules for eye contact than we do in the US so they seem threatening and crazy sometimes but they’re really just talking about pie. They fucking love pie. <—–stereotype.
  • Being married to an Italian sounds like this from American girls, “Oh my God! LUCKY! Is he the most romantic person you’ve ever known in your life? That must be dreamy!” Yes, my husband is romantic but I don’t think it’s necessarily because he’s Italian. I have Italian friends who are dating Italian guys who seem to think that “romance” is a public screaming match. There are cultural characteristics of Italian men that Americans see as being “romantic,” though, but that’s for another post.
  • All Italian men cheat! This is another common stereotype, although, this one is unfortunately a little close to a real statistic. Infidelity is statistically high in Italy and depending on the source the stat ranges from 67% to into the 70%. Ouch! But, remember, there are a lot of variables to consider in stats and at the end of the day there are that nice 30% or so that haven’t cheated or at least haven’t admitted it.

American Stereotypes That Make Me Laugh And/Or Cry:

  • Culture in the US is relatively abrupt and direct. This has landed us in the hot-seat worldwide. I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve heard, “You’re very polite for an American. You’re really nice for an American.”
  • The famous line from my then-boyfriend (now husband F), “I thought you’d be way easier like all of the other American sluts.” Wow. Yes, my friends, Italians often see us as rabid assholes, frothing at our entitled mouths. When we’re not being the biggest jerks the world has ever seen we’re humping things. Everything. We’re sex-crazed monsters whose loins are constantly aching for “it,” and when we want it (which is always) we demand it with no apologies. “You there, Guido, take off your pants and give it to me, little furry man-toy.” 
  • We’re also some of the ugliest people in the world, supposedly. “You’re people all look like basketball players that ended up on the street. Who wears sweats in public!?” If we take regional culture into consideration and our focus on productivity and comfort over style, there’s some truth that we’re not an overall fashion-conscious people, HOWEVER, New Yorker Mother Fuckers!
  • Americans are all obsessed with guns and hate black people. Due to the recent events in Ferguson, my hate-mail has grown exponentially. It’s a result of Italians directly relating the situation in Ferguson with ALL AMERICANS. This is really sad but given the strong presence of the KKK, the recent shootings of unarmed black people, the disproportionate number of black men in jail for petty crimes, and the long, LONG narrative of race-targeted crimes in the US, it’s a stereotype that I can’t really argue against as well as I wish I could. I would say that we have a large emphasis on being PC in the US so we might use less inflammatory language than other countries without the same slave-trade history but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Are all Americans racist? No! Not at all. A little traumatic anecdote about my family and racism: When I was four I said the “N” word in front of my mom (I had no idea what it meant, or where I’d heard it) and my mom slapped me so hard I fell flat on my ass (What a jerk). Then she explained to me that everyone, from every color is exactly the same, that the “N” word was an evil word, and that no daughter of hers would ever speak that way. Racism isn’t something that is tolerated in my family or in my friend groups. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for everyone. I would also like to point out that Italy is struggling with its own racism right now (the growth of neo-fascim and neo-nazi’s in Europe is scary). So world, all of you, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Ain’t nobody got time for racism.

Ugh. Now I’m depressed and I need a cocktail. Anyhow, what are some other stereotypes that you guys have experienced in your own countries or abroad? What am I leaving out? Has stereotypes had an impact on your life as an expat? 

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share with friends or enemies. Throw my bad language at them. That’ll teach ‘em!

For More On Stereotypes And Culture: Psychology Today

What Else Is Going On Outside Of Surviving: We Won Stuff, Guys! Best 10 Websites For Expats

Things That Everyone Needs To Be Happy: My Shop Of Badassery

 

Grazie, Vaiano! A Small City In Tuscany And Lunch With Friends

I have to admit that I’m not much of a foodie. I know, I know, STOP SHOUTING AT ME! I’m kind of a freak in that regard. However, there are a few cooks in Italy that could easily have me sitting around all day stuffing my face. Two of them are the mother and father of  our close friend, Leo. His parents are located in Vaiano, and they are incredible cooks. They cook typical Tuscan/Florentine cuisine, and speak Italian with a heavy Florentine accent. The last time we were there they told us a cute story about our friend and how he couldn’t spell. Florentines pronounce their “c” as an “h” so when our friend was in kindergarten, he was spelling his name phonetically with an “h” instead of a “c” which is kind of adorable, guys. His parents are super cute and I’m currently on a campaign to get them to adopt me. Anyhow! Here was the last lunch with them in their apartment in Vaiano, Italy. Also, if anyone knows how to make this rolled bread/carne dish below, PLEASE TELL ME. I’m not even sure I know what it’s called, I’ve only ever eaten it at their home. It was amazing.

And Leo: Face-lick.

COSI: Ferragosto! Pirates, Family, And Eating Until You Explode

Ferragosto is celebrated on the 15th of August. It was originally a pagan thing like most of the holidays we celebrate (What!? I’m SORRY! It’s TRUE! What does a giant bunny with treats have to do with Jesus? Nothing! That’s what!). Ferragosto was celebrated clear back in Roman times as people thanked Goddess Diana and the God Vortumno for awesome crops and all of that. Woot! Now, Ferragosto is a day of picnics, fun, and family time. In our family it is often the day of stuffing your face for four or five or ten hours until you pretty much barf, or try to barf but can’t, or just eat , sleep and dream about barfing.

For me Ferragosto signifies something even cooler than crop celebration (although celebrating food is kind of a big deal, too). It also signifies the beginning of summer vacation for many of us. In Italy, a good number of citizens get around three weeks of vacation per year. Two weeks in August and one week in December. It’s kind of amazing and probably why the homicide rate is lower in Italy than in the US. I’d be less inclined to kill people if I got to go on vacation every August, too. Last year my husband and I went some friends to Barcelona and the south of France beginning on Ferragosto. We drove from Cassino all the way to Barcelona and back. We had a blast. We danced in a nightclub that was on the beach. I convinced everyone afterwards to go “kind of skinny dipping” in the Sea. Drunk. Which is basically the only way you can get me near water because SHARKS. Then we went to some other city that was really amazing that I can’t remember because I’m not a travel writer but it was cute. We rented a paddleboat with a plastic slide on top where I sat -perched like a dog on a floating door after a flood-surveying the area for SHARKS while the guys swam. In the south of France we visited Arles, Ax-En-Provence, and Montpellier. In Arles around 1 a.m. I dragged my husband out for a hot date (me in a leather skirt running up and down the back streets making motor boat noises and summoning sailers) and we almost became Pirates. Which was like a dream come true.

Ferragosto to me is a reminder that there is more to life than work and productivity. That there is family, friends, places to see, things to do, outside of an office and without deadlines. Much of the world could learn something from Ferragosto itself and the following weeks of vacation that allow people to be people again.

AAAAND!

This Post Was Part Of Così (The expat mafia).

Check out what the other members of C.O.S.I had to say on the same subject.

Northern Italians Versus Southern Italians. Are They Really That Different?

 

My situation in Italy is a little unique. My husband is from a small (tiny) town between Rome and Naples but we live together in Florence. He’s lived outside of Italy in Spain where he made a lot of friends from the Brescia area who he is still very close with today. We have friends from the upper thigh of Italy all the way down to the toe and the heel of this country’s geographical boot. And, unfortunately, before I met my husband I dated someone from Brescia and I went on a few dates with a few Florentines as well. Some of our closest friends are in Florence, Rome, and of course Cassino and Naples. As an outsider I’m always observing people, watching their interactions, listening closely to their words. As a sociologist I’m constantly looking for what societal factors are influencing certain behaviors, what motivates people, what separates them, what makes them the same and what makes them different?

I’ve written about the difference between the North and the South before, or at least I’ve touched on it in lists and given it attention in a sentence or two. The reactions, often from Italian people, is either 1) there is no issue between the north and the south. That whole bigot thing is totally made up for no reason, or 2) You don’t know Italy because you’re husband is from the south. Or you don’t know Italy because you live in central Italy, or blah blah blah bullshit. Either way, from person experience I’ve seen a lot of bias. Northerners call the southerners lazy, and blame them for the economy while they chomp down on the delicious produce that the farming south has provided for the city dwellers in the North. The Southerners discount the Northerners as “not being Italian and lacking culture.” When I first started dating my husband, a Brescia born friend of mine said, “I don’t understand what you’re doing. The southern people are all wife beaters. He’ll move you to a family commune and force you into domestic slavery.” A Florentine friend said, “Your new boyfriend is cute but I don’t like the eye shape of the southern people.” Another friend said, “Your boyfriend is actually very intelligent for a southern man.” And so it goes. For those who claim a cultural bias doesn’t exist:  You need to broaden your friend group. You might not see it if all of your friends are the same and from your own region, or if your friends are particularly open-minded, but in my almost 5  years in Italy I’ve seen it first hand, from every side.

I could write a massive textbook about why every region of Italy is different but I don’t need to because a lot of them have already been written. To summarize: Italy has been occupied by a lot of people. You name it, a different part of Italy was occupied by it. Germanic people in the North, Turkish in the central, Spanish and Greek in the south, Arab in Sicily, Romans all over, and then all of the slaves that Romans brought back to Rome sprinkled around the country. Basically, Italy is a giant crayon box that melted together into the modern Italian people. They all even speak different regional dialects to this day. Have two Italians from a different region speak dialect to each other: Nobody understands shit.

This has obviously had an impact on cultural development throughout the country as well. There are some cultural differences between the North and the South. The differences are not even remotely as gigantic as Italians think though. Italians LOVE to believe that they couldn’t possibly have anything in common with their brethren in the North or South. Sorry, guys, you’re not that different. The differences between the North of Italy and the South of Italy are about the same as the US North-East and the US South. They are different, but it’s not like another planet (unless you’re talking backwoods, then that shit is scary, like being on an inbred Mars). The North in Italy has similar biases to what the US North has against the US South, too (I’ll admit that when people say “deep south” in the US I think of Deliverance. I know, I’m an asshole.).

In Italy, Southerners are often seen as “less educated, closed-knit tribe of closed-minded religious folks.” Truly, the South had less money (no money) for education until recently so they’re still catching up.  And farming communities tend to have that close-knit culture. They were farming people. Simple, family obsessed (like stalker obsessed) family people who care about good food, family, friends, and enjoy simple pleasures. Socio-economic status always plays into religiosity. Meaning that people with less tend to pray more. So yeah, the south is still a lot more religious than the North. Northerners are career-oriented capitalists. Now when I say North and South I’m saying Milan area versus like Campania or further south. Florence is central Italy and you’d be surprised how “in the middle” they really are. Florence is a communist city, it’s stuck somewhere between deep traditions, it’s old farming roots, and liberal. It’s a weird combination. Florence, in terms of culture, is more like Washington D.C., not really the deep-south, but totally not like the north-east, either. Meaning? The inhabitants are somewhere between progressive and worldly, liberal and open-minded, and hillbilly racists. Again, socio-economic status plays in here and Florence has a strange gap between rich and poor, a strong hold on tradition, while it’s simultaneously flooded with outsiders (like me!), and was historically both yee-haw farmland and royalty. Confusing. As. Shit. Also, our friends in Brescia consider Florence to be “the south” and our friends in the south consider it to be “the north.” We need a map up in here.

So, now that we’ve laid all that ground work, let’s talk about my personal experiences because all of these statistics and academic essays already exist. Have I personally noticed any truth to the bias between the Italian North and South? Sort of.

See Part 2 of this post Here: 9 Differences I’ve Noticed Between The North And South Of Italy

9 Differences I’ve Noticed Between The North And South Of Italy

This list is the second part of another post. I’d recommend reading that one first: Northern Italians Versus Southern Italians: Are They Really That Different?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just a few things  I’ve noticed through the years. If you agree, disagree, or if I’ve forgotten something add it in the comments below! I’d love to hear your personal experiences as an Italian or an expat.

1. Religion. Most of the people we know in the south are religious as fuck. My mother-in-law is a bible teacher, one of our friends had an exorcism (not joking), and most of the humans we know where some kind of cross, do the church thing, and get really emotional when they see the Madonna (not that Madonna, guys). However, some of our friends in the south are also atheists. Our priest in the south scared the shit out of our dog with his intense energy, and refused to marry us unless I lied on a form and said I wanted babies (if you think I’m lying, ask my husband, he was sitting next to me). Also, once in Sicily they refused to give us the Morning After Pill because we were “old enough to have children.” Yep. In Florence it’s easy as shit to get the Morning After Pill. Our priest for our marriage classes (we married in Cassino but did our classes in Florence) was liberal as shit. He glared and shook his head at the super religious Florentines in our class. He told them that Francesco was exactly what Jesus would want (now THAT is scary) and that our relationship was what God intended for a good marriage (Yep, not even joking. ME and FRANCESCO). He was very open-minded and totally fine with the fact that I’m agnostic. However, there are still a lot of reaaally religious Florentines. Some of them were in our marriage class and they were very interesting, others are my former professors or friends. They are serious about Catholicism and they will cut a bitch. CUT. A. Bitch. Everyone that I know in Milan/Brescia area says they’re “not Catholic” but they were all baptized and some of them wear crosses. So I don’t know. Statistically, pretty much F-ing everyone in Italy is Catholic with a TEENY TINY percent of Jews, muslims and Christians and like 5 buddhists that the population ceremoniously sacrifices on good friday or something. I may or may not have just pulled that out of my ass.

2. Racism. I’ve witnessed a ridiculous amount of racism in both Florence and in the South that just makes me want to stab the shit out of someone (a young fascist kid once tried to spit on me when he realized I was foreign and I would have beat him to death except I was holding two vodka’s and I couldn’t figure out what to do with them…i’m not going to waste vodka.). However, I’ve also witnessed a lot of kindness in Florence and in the South. We have a very good friend who works with immigrants to help them, and in our area of Campo in Florence, all of the shops and business people were really friendly with me and the other immigrants who sold things on the streets. They helped them, were kind, and treated them like everyone else. But then again, the Northern League in the North are some racist, awful, disgusting, mother-fuckers who have attacked Italy’s first black government minister by saying “she should be raped,” and calling her “an orangutan,” and have even thrown bananas at her. However, as The Guardian pointed out, “The Northern League is, admittedly, a minority party, usually gaining only between five and 10% of the national vote. And other political parties have expressed solidarity with Kyenge. But anyone who has listened to Italian political debate, or worse, stood in an Italian football stadium, knows that Italy simply isn’t a tolerant place. This is a country where a recent prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, thought it hilarious to joke that Obama had a decent suntan. The racism isn’t restricted to right or left, old or young, rural or urban: it is noticeable everywhere.” -(http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/jul/30/italy-racism-cecile-kyenge-esterofilia3). 

Education. Some of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life reside in the South. The South, historically, had the education fund of an inner city school in Detroit, so anyone who has rose from that has kicked as in the face of some serious adversity. Some of America’s Ivy League professors came from Italy’s South, famous restauranteurs, and business owners from small to huge conglomerates.  Northern Italians are brilliant and pretty much do well in every industry in every country. There is more opportunity in the north and the northerners kick ass and take names. Italians, when they have the opportunity, are brilliant people. Unfortunately their economy and the traditional mentality in central and southern Italy has prevented a lot of people from living up to their potential. However, I’ve met really brilliant people across the entire country (and a lot of really dumb people, too). Like every country, there are brilliant people and then some people who it’s shocking that they haven’t accidentally died somehow. 

4. Mammoni. I’ve read about weird mammoni issues in both the North and the South. I think that “over mothering” happens in every region in Italy. Sorry y’all. Nobody wins here. Especially not the dude that some mom is trying to re-womb. RUN! RUUUUNNN!!!

5. Women’s Issues. Okay, this one is complex. The number of women killed by partners, husbands, etc., is highest in central/northern Italy. Yes, that’s right, I was surprised, too. One time in Florence I saw a Florentine couple arguing (they were speaking Florentine) and the man slapped the woman across the face in public, in daylight, and all of the people standing next to them (including police) just minded their own business. Nobody said anything. That was insane. But that was a one time thing and I’ve never seen it since then.

I’ve seen a certain type of sexism in the South that I don’t see as much in Florence and have never witnessed in friend groups in the North. It is a very odd attitude in the South, like an unspoken but you get the gist, “Hush, ladies, the men are speaking,” or, “You have a vagina so I’ll sit here and wait until you get me a drink of water.” You don’t see that in Florence among our generation like ever (I can’t speak for older people). Now, this doesn’t mean that ALL southern men my age are like that. Most of our friends are very liberal, very open-minded, and my husband isn’t like that at all. He’s a feminist (GASP!?) and he certainly doesn’t love the common southern dynamic rampant among some groups.

6. Food. The food quality in the south is epic. The produce is literally farm to table. So good. However, regional cuisine is delicious everywhere, and let’s be honest, Italy is a tiny country, it doesn’t take long from fresh produce to travel from the south to the north.

7. Polite behavior and general way of being. This is the largest difference between the North of Italy and the South from what I can tell. What is considered okay versus what is impolite seems to be really different. In the South it’s totally fine to scream at your friend from one balcony to the next whereas in Florence that would be kind of weird. There are more rules for the South in terms of conversation and how or when to talk with people. The general rule being: Even if your wife is in labor, stop in the middle of the street for twenty minutes and talk with your father’s friend because otherwise you’d be “rude.”  I feel like it’s rude to actually inconvenience other people but it seems like the norm in the South to totally inconvenience the shit out of everyone (this is because I am a city person, I get it). When I’m anywhere South of Rome I don’t know how people expect me to act and I don’t really understand any of it because I didn’t get the secret memo about “ways of being from here down.” I still haven’t figured out what exactly is expected of me. I do know that me speaking frankly is really not cool to most people, sarcasm doesn’t work, and I’m supposed to really like “girl things” and I get pushed into “conversing with the women” as the two groups often split up. There is also some assumption that only the women will help clean, anything, EVER. Although, you can find that in the North and Florence, too. Dudes, stop being lazy.

Something I have noticed that is a large difference is that they seem a lot more hospitable in the South. This isn’t to say that people aren’t hospitable in the North, but Southerners seem to take it to a new level. If they make lunch or dinner it’s going to last for 5 hours and they’ll give you all of the food they’ve ever grown in their life in that one meal. They’ll also practically hand you the clothing off of their back if you say you like it. Careful on your compliments, people have tried to give me all of their things before. Kind of cute. A lot of people say that southerners are more “warm,” or “welcoming” but I don’t know. I haven’t noticed a huge difference honestly. I don’t think that warm and hospitable are the same thing. When I think “warm” I think open and easy but I don’t feel like “open” describes most people.

8. Public displays of Jealousy. I’ve seen this in every region to varying degrees of crazy. I mean, seriously, you can’t just calmly go up to your partner and say, “Hey, what you’re doing it making me have icky feelings of insecurity and jealousy. Please stop that.” Isn’t that easier than puffing up like a rooster and stomping around like a lunatic? You’re not a monkey (are you?). You don’t need to throw doody to prove your love. Doody love. Ha.

9. Fashion. People are going to be really pissed right now but in my opinion, Milan, and Florence are the better dressed cities. This is not to say that EVERYONE dresses well in Milan or Florence or that in Rome and Naples everyone is dressed bad. No. That’s not what I mean. There are always exceptions. But, from what I see, Rome is very casual and the Naples, Cassino, south of Cassino area is waaaay too flamboyant for me. I prefer men in fitted clothing, I like well-dressed men, but WOW. Walking around Cassino half of the time is like a gay pride parade on uppers. Sparkles, rhinestones, fake crystals, bright colors on the women, and then gallons of hair gel, shiny suits, and parrot outfits for the dudes. Who has time for that!? And also, my eyes, you make the burn.

Let me know if you agree or disagree below! What did I miss? What would you add? What’s your experience?

“Where The Hell Have You Been?” Great Question.

Things have been slow on Surviving for the past few weeks because I’ve been busy making large decisions which usually result in me getting drunk, blasting Persian belly dance videos, and embarrassing my husband in front of the neighbors by running into the front yard and proclaiming my undying love for him at five p.m. upon his return home. I’ve decided to take the giant leap from free wordpress to bluehost. Guys, I’m kind of terrified of change but I keep hearing that it’s the better thing to do. Plus, running a blog is expensive and time-consuming so it’s kind of getting to that point where I need the blog to be able to move out, get a job, and take care of itself financially, or GO TO FUCKING COLLEGE. Seriously.

I historically have responded to advertisers with, “You don’t even really read my blog, liar, but I’ll consider letting you talk about GAMBLING on my ITALY BLOG, if you send me a capybara wearing a knitted Christmas sweater.” So far, nobody has delivered Dwayne and alas my site is free from mail-order-prostitutes and gambling sites. Some of you are disappointed, I know. Then Francesco was all, “You know you could actually do ads from bloggers and things you really like, right?” And that’s why he’s an engineer and I’m a wino (and also why i’m fun and he’s less fun).  So, if you come here in the next few days and things seem crazy or weird or it says my site is “UNDER CONSTRUCTION,” you know why, it’s because elves are carrying my blog to a new home (that’s how it works, right?). It should only take 24 hours and most of you probably won’t notice anything.

WHERE I’VE BEEN WHEN I’M NOT CONSORTING WITH ELVES:

So when I’m not moving my blog or having a panic attack…I’m trying to get my ass to the Blogher conference in San Jose (I’m SO FUCKING EXCITED!), and I’ll be doing a reading In Salt Lake City, Utah August 7th, 8th, and maybe 9th. The reading will be at a few events with artists/writers, and we’ll be raising money for some non-profits that we love.

Also! This is particularly terrifying: I just co-wrote a screenplay and am waiting to hear back from Sundance (please pray for me or otherwise BRIBE SOMEONE.)

I also recently traumatized my nephew by telling him he couldn’t come to my birthday party. Apparently that’s a really big insult to a 3 year old.

WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING ON THE WEB: 

I did a podcast interview with the badass D.J. Paris from ThoughtsFromParis.com (NOT a travel blog, “Paris” is his last name). We met on Twitter a while back by engaging in mutal stalking/harrassment. I’m pretty sure you guys will be into his blog. You can find the podcast interview featuring M.E. Here: Bloggers Are Weird Series. I recommend turning it into a drinking game by taking a sip of wine every time I seem to confuse myself. I’d have a few bottles ready.

I’ve done a recent interview with the gorgeous Rochelle from Unwilling Expat: Blogging Around The World With Surviving In Italy. 

You can also (seriously, are you sick of me babbling about myself yet?) catch another interview on Girl In Florence: Locals I Love, Misty From Surviving In Italy.

I have a freakish amount of posts coming soon. And guys? I feel like some of them are going to be really…uhm, ranty.