18 Differences Between Living In Italy And The United States

The US and Italy are at polar opposite ends of pretty much every spectrum and floating between the two worlds is like hopping back and fourth in time between planets . I often say that if you could simply combine both countries you’d have a nearly perfect system (you’d basically have a fashionable and less pervy version of Germany).

P.S. I’m about to generalize. For the rare few who get really freaked out by this:  I’d recommend skipping this post and watching this video of a Capybara instead. If you continue reading it anyways and then leave a comment saying, “not everyone is like this” you’re an asshole. Because it’s a generalization and in a generalization it’s obvious that it’s in general and that I’m not writing about every single human being in both countries. There are many, many, many exceptions. 

1. Eating. In Italy you’ll find people who love food so much that it borderlines on fanaticism and idol worship. They spend an unhealthy

two nuns buy meat by a butcher in Florence.

two nuns buy meat by a butcher in Florence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)amount of time talking about recipes, cooking, and eating. I once heard three old men in Florence talk about their wives cake recipes for over one hour. Americans love food too but they basically just like food quantity. They don’t really give a shit what they’re eating as long as IT IS A LOT OF IT.

amount of time talking about recipes, cooking, and eating. I once heard three old men in Florence talk about their wive’s cake recipes for one hour. Americans love food too but they basically just like food quantity. They don’t really give a shit what they’re eating as long as IT IS A LOT OF IT.

2. Feelings. Americans pent up all of their emotions (even small, petty ones) until they eventually snap and lose their minds (often resulting in a homicidal streak or at minimal weeks and weeks locked into their Nintendo simply pretending to murder people). The US is an angry and frustrated place and probably one of the only places in the world where people kill each other for driving slowly. Italians cannot keep any of their emotions inside. If they feel something the entire vicinity is going to know about it in one way or another in the form of screaming, crying, slapping, or at minimal dramatic hand gestures, pouting or glaring. Honestly I prefer the latter. The venting is probably good for you (though I could skip the feet stomping, guys, come on.).

3. Using an “inside voice.” Most Americans are quiet speakers in closed public places. If you’re in a restaurant in the US it’s unlikely that you’ll hear any one voice standout from the the crowd. In Italy, you can easily hear a conversation that a woman is having about her yeast infection two restaurants down.

Fontina cheese.

Fontina cheese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Food quality. The food quality (what you can buy at a normal store) in the US is so abysmal compared to Italy that I actually feel guilty feeding anything to my dog. “Oliver, I’m sorry, please forgive me, here is a radioactive carrot.” The only upside of the US supermarket is that there isn’t an entire pig head sitting on a counter somewhere randomly. I can do without that, Italy.

5. Sugar Coating. Americans fucking love euphemisms. “Is that a cold sore on your lip?” They might ask, a little embarrassed for you. In Italy there is no euphemism for anything. “Oh! You have the herpes on-a your-a face. HERPES. RIGHT-A DERE. DOES EVERYONE SEE HIS-A HERPES!?” Nobody has time for bullshit. They’re totally calling you out on being gross.

6. The skinny on fat. Weight is a really sensitive subject in the US where in Italy it’s something that is talked about all the damn time. “Did you see Francesca? She’s so thin! Francesca! You look like you’ve just escaped a work camp! Pietro is so fat! PIETRO! HI! YOU’RE SO FAT!” It’s insanely common for friends, family, (and even strangers) to comment on weight. Once I was walking down the street and a woman stopped me to say, “You need to eat more. You’re too thin. Also you’re dog is too thin. EAT MORE and feed this poor dog!” In the US if I told my friend, “Oh! You gained a little weight!” She’d punch me in the mother fucking face with her new chubby fist.

7. Pace. When I moved to Italy the very first thing I noticed was the pace. Life in Italy is slow. The Milanese right now are like, “No! Not even! Nuh-UH! Us Northerners are fast!” And I’m like, “that’s cute.” To be fair they are faster than the rest of the country but they still don’t compare to an average New Yorker. The south in the US is slower but the south of Italy is so slow that one could possible spend the better part of a decade waiting to send a letter at the post office. In the US people are so worried about efficiency and pace that they pretty much die before they even realize they’re alive. I vote that both countries meet halfway in the middle. Somewhere between lightning speed and the slow zombies from Walking Dead.

8.  Mother. Fucking. Efficiency. “When in Italy doubt” should be Italy’s catchphrase. When you move to Italy you have to unlearn everything you’ve ever known about things happening in a common-sense sequential manner and you have to learn the new system of nobody knows how things work, when, or why. It’s fascinating. Absolutely nothing is common sense and you can’t figure stuff out without asking people.

9. Job Security. Nobody can be fired in Italy because of the unions so you pretty much have to assume that absolutely NOBODY is interested in actually doing their jobs. At the post office my husband will ask the employee over and over again, “So you’re sending this to IRAN right. IRAN. I-R-A-N?” And I’m like, “Leave her alone she’s not retarded!” And then she’s all, “Yes. I’m sending it to IRAQ. I UNDERSTAND.” And my husband is like, “Mother. Fucker!” That shit happens every day. On the contrary, in the US people can be fired for walking funny or smelling weird so we spend every second of every day terrified that our boss hates our outfit and is going to throw us into the streets and our kids will starve to death.

The Three Eldest Children of Charles I (Charle...

Spoiled Children  (Charles, Mary and James) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10. Children. I read a study that said children in all first world countries are becoming more and more pampered and spoiled and I’ve definitely seen that a little bit in both countries. However, I’ve frequently seen seven year olds being pushed in a stroller in Florence. I’ve never seen a seven year old in a stroller in the US unless the kids legs didn’t work for some sad or terrible reason.

11. Style. If you go to New York or a few of the more “fashionable” cities you’ll find well-dressed people in the US, however, most of the US seem content putting no effort at all into what they look like from day to day. You can see the biggest difference in small towns. In small town USA you’ll frequently see people shopping in sweat pants and you’ll see the occasional pair of overalls on a grown ass man. In Italy I’ve seen some horrible outfits but for the most part there is a good amount of effort that goes into appearance even in teeny tiny hillbilly villages.

12. Pets. Italy is pretty dog friendly. Florence is a heaven-sent city for dog owners. Oliver is always treated like part of the family and he’s allowed to go anywhere (including nice restaurants). The downside is that there are many stray dogs living on the streets in the south of Italy. People simply let their dogs “run free” if they don’t want them anymore and the common attitude is that “free dogs are happy dogs.” Which I totally don’t buy into because, guys, dogs are pack animals. They don’t give a shit if they’re able to run around free if they’re alone. The US is archaic and sterile when it comes to pets. Dogs aren’t allowed inside anywhere because of the US hysteria for hygiene and lawsuits. There are also hundreds of thousands of horrific animal cruelty cases reported every year in the US and most apartments don’t allow dogs. It’s really not the easiest place in the world for FIDO (or Oliver) in some ways. In other ways it’s nice with doggie daycares, incredible positive dog trainers, K9 schools, and massive dog parks in larger cities.

13. Family. The differences in culture really shows in family situations. In the US independence is one of the our most valuable qualities. A “needy” person or person who “asks too much” from a partner or family is considered bad. In most Italian families, independence isn’t really pushed at all. Everyone is an extension of the family and “needing” ones family is normal and healthy. In the US we tend to put career and finances ahead of our spouse, children, siblings, and parents, whereas for most Italian families, family comes first no matter what.

14. Age. In Italy here isn’t a lot of expectations that come with age in terms of what you “should” be doing anymore. It’s similar to New York in that regard. People of all ages go out, go drinking, and stay in motion and active. Outside of New York and California you don’t see that very much in the US. People seem more tied to their age and give in to the dull expectations of what a 40 year old should or shouldn’t do which is usually kind of lame.

15. Gender. Gender roles are really different between the US in many, many ways. The dynamic between men and women is in such a way that it can seem like women rule the nest in the Italian homes but the truth is that the expectations of the two sexes is very different. In the US the expectations are a little more equal in terms of career, child-rearing, and household responsibilities. Many parts of Italy still hold true to the belief that housework is only for women and regardless if women have a career or not they’re usually expected to do three times as much as men at home. They generally do nearly all of the cooking, cleaning, and tending to the children while balancing a full time job. Women are not taken seriously on an intellectual level and it’s expected that they maintain appearances all the time and domestic violence is statistically high in Italy (mostly in the South). However, in a way women are respected a lot too. I know, it totally doesn’t sound like it, but in a way they are. While the sexes are getting more and more equal in the US there is a lot of hateful, blind resentment towards women in American culture. Violence towards women is extremely high in the US and more often than not there is a lot of victim-blaming which shows the dark underbelly of the confusing “equal but hated” mentality of American culture. Both cultures really have a long way to go in terms of their treatment of women.

Romance

Romance (Photo credit: PIXNOIZE)

16. Romance. Italian culture reeks of romance. The music, the movies, the attitudes about relationships are very romantic and lofty. The idea of courting a woman is still pretty big in Italy and guys are sweet even with girls they have no real interest in. The wining, dining, flattering, is common in both countries but Americans tend to be a little more practical (you can see it even in films) whereas Italians are more sort of lofty, emotional, but non-comital during the initial process.

English: Photograph of Ponte Vecchio at night....

English: Photograph of Ponte Vecchio at night. Florence, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

17. Space. The US is enormous so it’s no surprise that Americans are accustomed to space. Big cars, big houses, big yards, and about two feet of space between themselves and other people all the time. Italy is not gigantic and in most cities the people live packed into a smaller apartment. They don’t require the same personal space. One of the first things that I noticed the first time I went to Italy is that strangers touched me all the time and nobody bothered to say, “sorry” or “excuse me.” At first I thought it was because the entire country was full of assholes but then I realized later that it’s because there is simply nothing to be sorry for. Sometimes you touch other people. And? And nothing.

18. Levels of neurosis. Italian culture is so calm compared to American culture. In some ways it’s annoying as hell because nothing ever seems like a big deal. Things that would send a typical American into cardiac arrest usually won’t get more than a shrug from an Italian. For example, bad dinner service. If an American has to wait more than ten minutes to order he’s going to burn down the restaurant. In Italy? Psssh. Calm down! The waiter will get here eventually (after twenty five minutes). It’s the same with chaotic driving or an array of other things that seem like the end of the world to Americans. Italy really understands the concept of taking things in stride and choosing what you get up in arms over. It’s probably why they live so damn long and why they have a much lower number of people on mood stabilizers.

Bonus: Freedom. The United States are always boasting about how “free” they are. Corporations have a lot of freedom but I feel much, much less “free” in the US than in Italy. In Italy you don’t feel watched constantly and you know that if you make a little driving mistake or something it’s not going to cost you your life. Sometimes in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” I feel like I’m living in a police state. It’s unnerving and stressful. I can do without being constantly tracked and watched, ‘Murica. Thanks.

Can you guys think of some other differences that I forgot? I’m sure there are many.

My Italian Husband Sings Christmas Songs And They Are Fucking Terrifying

My husband is kind of a scrooge. So much in fact that I recently nicknamed him Grinch McScroogeMiser. He’s not usually one for holiday cheer but since we’ve been to my mom’s he seems to be lightening up. My mom’s house resembles a Christmas village with every inch decorated and Christmas music blaring over the Christmas movies that play on repeat in the background. The cheer is somehow seeping into his icy cold scrooge heart and he’s been singing all day long. The songs are supposed to be Christmas songs, songs of joy and hope and materialism but you guys, since English isn’t his mother-tongue, his versions are just fucking terrifying.  I’ve asked him to stop singing before he traumatizes the neighborhood children.

“You better watch out. You better watch out. YOU BETTER WATCH OUT. YOOOU BETTER WATCH OUT! Santa Claus is coooomiiing to taaaaawn!”

Kids: Fucking. Run.

Scary Santa

Scary Santa (Photo credit: RaGardner4)

‘Meeeeeerrrrcaaaa! Bringing My Italian Husband And Poodle To The USA

f in america

As you guys know F and I are in the U.S. for a bit. But I have enough Italy posts saved to keep this blog going until the end of days. And I could probably even keep it going after that. F talked with a psychologist who prescribed Oliver as an “emotional support animal” for F’s “anxiety during travel.” Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you are. So Oliver was allowed to fly for free without being in a cage. We arrived to the Rome FMO airport with F’s parents. We all said our goodbye’s and F’s mom sobbed “Oh dio!” and I patted her on the back and was all, “we’ll see you soon! We’re not leaving forever!” but she just glared at me so she obviously thinks I’m a liar.

We were fully prepared for disaster with Oliver but as life goes when you prepare for the worst your dog suddenly becomes a different dog and is PERFECT FOR THE ENTIRE 24 HOURS OF TRAVELING. We boarded the plane and he crawled under the sleep and slept for the 11 hour flight into Atlanta. F was sulking the entire flight because the stewardess made him check (for free) his gigantic carry-on bag. “But I don’t understand why everyone has to follow the rules! It’s stupid!” And it totally makes sense that following rules would be shocking to him since pretty much nobody in Italy has ever followed any rules ever. I once flew through Rome with nearly a gallon of water in my carry-on. Nobody even checked it. And they never cared about the random fuzzy handcuffs that were in there since my honeymoon (a funny gift from my bridesmaids) but apparently you can’t have them because in Paris THEY TOOK THEM OUT AND WAVED THEM AROUND and were like, “hey guys, hee hee hee, you can’t bring these with you.” Because a terrorist would totally take over a plane with pink fuzzy handcuffs. Anyways, what was I talking about? Oh yeah! So F was furious that the stewardess was following the rules so he spent eleven hours glaring at her and mumbling, “Your people are so annoying” under his breathe.

When we arrived in Atlanta we had to go through immigration because F has his Greencard. At that point Oliver hadn’t peed in 13 hours and I was freaking the fuck out. I asked everyone if there was somewhere he could go outside and they all shook their heads sadly and said, “no, sorry.” I tried making him pee on his potty pads in the bathroom but he was all, “What the fuck is this!? THIS IS NOT GRASS YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!” Immigration was really easy at the airport and super fast. When he was given his permanent resident status in Naples they sent him a super secret brown package that says, “DO NOT OPEN” in big red letters on the front. The American  government obviously doesn’t know that red writing gives people anxiety and that’s why they don’t use it in schools to correct work anymore because we’re too emotionally fragile for red ink. I think they do it on purpose to shake up the ALIENS. The guy that did our immigration was nice and fast. I held Oliver in my arms who wiggled uncontrollably while a little Columbian girl pulled on his leg while she waited to immigrate too. The guy pulled out F’s papers, wrote a few things, had F sign something, and then was all, “Welcome to America,” and I considered telling him that America is a continent and not a country but I thought it was probably the wrong time to correct someone’s poor geographical knowledge.

After that Oliver had to go through agriculture inspection which took less than thirty seconds. We read online that he needed seven million documents all translated in English but all the guy cared about was his rabies vaccination. He didn’t even look at the other stuff that cost me 150 dollars in translation fees and weeks to collect. He didn’t check Oliver at all. Just looked at the paper and pointed to the exit. We had to recheck our bags and then go through security and I kept Oli in my arms so he didn’t piss all over the airport. Finally, after he’d been waiting for 15 hours (we felt horrible for him and like the biggest assholes in the world) he could finally go outside. The airport in Atlanta has a tiny grass area with a fire hydrant for dogs in Terminal F. He peed for a full minute, made his doody, and we ran full speed with him through the airport to our next flight in Salt Lake City. In the US nobody asked to see his paper work which was nice. They just asked, “Is he an ESA or Service dog?” we’d nod and they’d just smile and then molest his head with love.

Four hours on another flight and we arrived in Salt Lake City at 9:45 p.m. after a total of 20 hours of straight travel with five bags and a poodle. Oh, and I had the flu. It sucked. They lost the carry-on bag that they checked in Rome because Americans follow too many rules and last we heard it arrived in Atlanta and then was shipped somehow to Germany. Way to go Delta! In SLC my step dad Brian picked us up from the airport because my mom said, “I can’t drive after five because after five is drinkin’ time” and we drove for one hour to my mom’s house where we were fed some kind of pasta with cream sauce and shrimp (cute mom, but no).

Right now Oliver is angry because he doesn’t understand going outside in the snow to use the bathroom and he just pees on the lawnmower under my mom’s balcony while glaring at me. F and I both have the Flu and F is panicked about the “shit you people eat here” otherwise known as poor quality American food. But everyone keeps screaming MERRY CHRISTMAS at us so that almost makes it okay. Almost.

Living In Italy: Cassino And More Food (Another Six Hour Lunch)

 

As most of you know, I’ve been in Cassino with my in-laws (HOLY FUCKING SHIT!) for nearly two weeks now. We’re staying here to spend time with everyone before we head to the US for the holidays and to take care of some ‘MERCA things (like me trying to get Surviving In Italy published in book form! WOO HA!). But don’t worry! I have many-a-posts saved for you, plus I’ll be posting about importing F for a minute (should be good). Anyways, two weeks with the in-laws is a long time even if your father-in-law is Jesus Christ and your Mother-In-Law is Mother Theresa which mine ARE NOT. They are actually borderline insane who I love even if my father-in-law keeps calling me a “fucking retard” and my mother-in-law keeps telling me that my hair is ugly (when do I get sainted?). Acceptance is one of the first steps to recovery, my friends.

Whew. Anyways, all that F and I do here is eat, drink coffee, hide in the bedroom, and protect Oliver from my in-laws who think he needs “more discipline” and believe they are “helping” us by brandishing a broom at him. The one good thing about it all is that they are giving me so much fodder for my blog AND really great food shots with the series of SIX HOUR LUNCHES we’ve attended this week. The food is generally amazing but so, soooo much of it. Viola! Here is a lunch that went from 1-6 . Someone bring me Pepto.

La Tavola

La Tavola

Salad. Okay, it's SALAD but I liked the shot.

Salad. Okay, it’s SALAD but I liked the shot.

Polenta. Mmmm.

Polenta. Mmmm.

More Salad. I'm SORRY! STOP YELLING AT ME!

More Salad. I’m SORRY! STOP YELLING AT ME!

BABY BIRD STEW. What. The. Fuck?

BABY BIRD STEW. What. The. Fuck?

Wild Pheasant

Wild Pheasant

Bread with salame baked inside

Bread with salame baked inside

Wine is not complete without cheese puffs also known as FONZIES.

Wine is not complete without cheese puffs also known as FONZIES.

DSC_0257

 

A Quick Glance Of Sora Italy And The Cutest Old People In The World

Sora is a city and comune of Lazio, Italy, in the province of Frosinone. It is built in a plain on the banks of the Liri.” I thought that it was called Sordida for the entire day that we were there which means, “your sister” in dialect. We spent a few hours here the other day to take a break from the in-laws. It was our first time there and I really loved it. Gorgeous city and the cutest old people ever.

 

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