Pisa Street Photography By Artist Kamau

Hello guys! So this week’s guest post is by a very talented photographer. I love his work, it’s so energetic and fun and I think you’ll love it too. And also? What a babe! Enjoy your glimpse into Pisa. Have you been? Do these photos bring up any nostalgic memories of the place?

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

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Does This Video Change The Way You See Italy?

Similarly to a turtle that’s stuck on it’s back, Italy is desperately flailing to get to it’s feet and recover from it’s economic, political, and social setbacks. Their solution? This video, titled, “Italy, The Extraordinary Commonplace.” I actually don’t even know what that means. Does anyone know what that means? The video is in English, and aims to clean the soiled reputation of a once great nation.

Italy is trying to rebrand itself.

The video has gotten mixed reviews but a lot of them are good. ABC recently wrote a story titled, “Italy Promo Gets Thumbs Up For Turning Stereotypes Around.”

The video was created by The Ministry Of Economic Development. So far the YouTube video has been viewed over 390,000 times. It’s nice to see that Italy has finally found a way to market itself differently and is trying to change it’s image in hopes of increasing interest from foreign investors. At the very least I can say that it’s great that Italy has possibly found a way to market itself to the world. You know what they say? It’s all about marketing. Once they figure that out, they might be able to fix the country.

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7 Things You Didn’t Expect Before Moving To Italy By Marta R.

Ah, Italy! The very word fills us with romantic visions of white-sand beaches, medieval villages scattered amongst the Tuscan hills, wine-filled evenings and all in all la dolce vita. While Italy has all this and more to offer, it’s not always all sunshine and roses. If you’re thinking of moving to la bella Italia, you may want to learn more about the everyday side of living in this beautiful, but at times rather confusing country.

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Italians take their food very seriously.

Italians don’t pay much attention to rules of any kind, but this surprisingly changes once food is involved. If you’re ever at a restaurant and begin receiving surprised looks verging on pure disgust, it’s probably cause you’re not having your food the Italian way.

Rule number 1, never, ever order a cappuccino after midday. It’s a major offence and you’ll get stared at and labeled an ignorant tourist before you even have the chance to have your first sip. Cappuccino is considered a morning drink to be had with a sweet pastry (if, God forbid, you decide to have a savoury breakfast, don’t order a cappuccino or any other kind of coffee with it – have water or juice instead).

Other no-nos which you want to avoid are: having wine with pizza (I’m still puzzled by this one), ordering coffee with a meal unless it’s breakfast and you’re having something sweet to eat; assuming that Americanised versions of Italian food, such as pepperoni pizza and chicken Alfredo’s, are authentically Italian and asking for them at a restaurant. Just don’t.

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Italians don’t do queuing

The concept of queuing simply doesn’t exist in Italy. There, I’ve just made your life easier. Next time you’re patiently waiting your turn while the crowd begins to drift along from all directions, with a very liberal use of elbows and occasional screaming, do yourself a favour and do as they do if you want to get things done.

The only exceptions are post offices, hospitals, and government buildings – these places use a ticketing system to keep things in check. This isn’t necessarily a good thing – a lot of the time the ticketing system is so overcomplicated that even Italians get confused by it. Which brings us to the next point:

Italians love overcomplicating things

If something can be done quickly and efficiently, Italians will find a way to overcomplicate it and make it extra hard. Whoever’s in charge of the bureaucratic side of things in Italy appears to love red tape, which would explain the never-ending amount of papers and stamps for any purpose you can imagine. If you’re lucky enough to get to the right place and line at the right time (irregular opening times are notorious), you will then have to deal with a completely unfazed worker who will most likely tell you that you need additional documents to sort out whatever it is that you’re trying to get done.

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The concept of personal space doesn’t exist

Bad news for those with any kind of a social phobias: Italians don’t do personal space. Blatant staring, intense eye contact, expressive hand gestures, standing or sitting unsettlingly close to you while the rest of the street/bus/train is empty…all this is perfectly socially acceptable in Italy. The lack of personal space isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it shows that Italians are simply more open than other European nations.

It’s Expensive

When I moved to Italy from the UK, I was expecting everything to be significantly cheaper, at least based on the exchange rate. I was right to some extent (at 2-3 euros per glass, wine is practically free; coffee costs next to nothing, and instead of splashing out on dinner you can spend 8-10 on an aperitivo buffet), however, overall, Italy is expensive, especially if you live in a city. Accommodation will be a major setback; shopping isn’t cheap either. What will set you back the most, however, if the fact that once you’re in Italy, you always want to be out and about, travelling, exploring, dining outAll this fun comes at a price!

You won’t get anything sorted at lunchtime (or on Mondays)

Italians are very passionate about their food culture. In a country where no Sunday could pass without a 3 hour long family lunch, it’s no wonder that meal times dictate the daily routine. The majority of privately owned stores (including letting agencies and some cafes) will be closed around lunchtime, between 12:30 or 1pm till 3pm or 4pm. Similarly, most privately owned stores are closed on Mondays. No one really knows why, but just take it as a given that urgent matters won’t get sorted on Mondays or at lunch. Relax and have some pasta instead!

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Nothing ever happens according to schedule

The Italian way of life is much more slow-paced compared to the Northern European countries, which could potentially be the reason why Italians are so inefficient at time management. If something, whether it’s a concert, a tour, an event of any kind or even a doctor’s appointment, is supposed to start at a certain time, chances are you’ll still be waiting 30 minutes in. Just take it as a given that things don’t happen according to schedule and embrace the chaos – it’s actually fun!

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Author Bio

Marta

Marta is a digital nomad and a travel blogger, currently based in Italy. She’s the creator of A Girl Who Travels, a blog aimed mainly at female travelers, dedicated to solo travel, location-independent lifestyle and travel advice. Marta hopes that her blog will inspire other women to follow their passion and discover the joys that come with travelling. You can follow Marta’s adventures on Instagram: a_girlwhotravels.

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The words of guest bloggers are their words, and theirs alone. Opinions, perspectives, etc., do not necessarily reflect those of Surviving In Italy or M.E.

What Would Dante Do? Posthumous Observations by Il Poeta By Laura Shewan

Quando leggemmo il disiato riso, esser basciato da cotanto amante, questi, che mai da me non fia diviso, la bocca mi baciò tutto tremante.”

~ Dante ~


Is there anything in this world more frightening than a Florentine shop assistant? If there is, I haven’t yet found it. The only thing that enables me to transcend my terror and cross the threshold of an Italian boutique is The Pure Unadulterated Desire To Shop. Yes, the clothes are sooo pretty, but they come at a big price; and i’m not just talking about the label. I mean, the sweaty palmed experience of being scrutinised. Most of the time I can be found trembling in the changing cubicle, whilst an immaculate madonna peers through the curtains at me, simultaneously scowling and staring. (Seriously: HOW do they DO that??) The terror is confounded by the knowledge that they somehow know I am a secret hippy; despite the designer attire. I am pretty sure they have a sixth sense for it, and can sniff out the scent of incense and post-meditation samadhi. I also have my suspicions that they feed hippies here to the pedigree dogs; (how else would you account for their absence from an ENTIRE city); a belief which doesn’t do much in favour of the sweaty palms.

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This Isn’t A Real Post

Hey Everyone! So this isn’t a real post but I had a few announcements to make and what better way than with a fake post? Bazaaam!

Surviving Is Fancy! 

FlipKey (owned by TripAdvisor) just released a Top 8 Tuscany Based Bloggers List and SURVIVING IN ITALY WAS ON IT! HOLY SHIT! WOOT WOOT! We are winning! I’m honored and so excited to be listed with so many amazing bloggers like Girl In Florence. I feel like a shetland pony among unicorns and it feels awesome. Thanks again for all of your support! Seriously, thank you. Check out the awesome list and all the awesome other blogs HERE.

Italy Magazine: Vote For Your Favorite Blog

Also, Italy Magazine is having their blogger contest again so if you’re feeling sassy go vote for your favorite Italy blog or blog post. The shortlist will be available February 2nd. I have no idea if I’ll be on it or not but a lot of really amazing bloggers will be. I kind of wish they had a category for “most swear words.” Fingers crossed!  Stay tuned HERE.

Capybaras! Holy Shit! 

A badass reader (who I won’t name in case it creeps them out) just brought to my attention that there is a petting zoo nearby my house THAT HAS CAPYBARAS! I’m researching them right now to make sure it’s a place I feel comfortable supporting (I’m weird about animals in captivity…So I have to stalk them to make sure they have the best casa for DWAYNE EVER before I go). Cause animals are cute and helpless so we’ve got to get all bitchy and protect their fuzzy asses. If the place is nice, I may or may not be arrested for stealing and/or flinging myself into a cage to cuddle Dwayne Junior. At minimum I’m going to put him in a tophat. I’ll keep you updated with a video if I go. Fingers crossed it’s an awesome place so I can finally see one in REAL LIFE (instead of obsessively on YouTube Francesco!).

Would You Like To Contribute To Surviving In Italy? 

I’m looking for contributors! If you’re a writer, photography, foodie, historian, wife, mother, husband, wino whatever, and you have an idea for an Italy-related post, send me a message! I’m looking for all kinds of good content it can be unique, honest, informative, narrative, sad, happy, mad, nostalgic, How-To, lists, commentary, political, religious, historical, photo, art, whatever posts on all things Italy. I’m also looking for a photographer who would want to be a weekly “street journalist/street style” contributor. Your bio and links to your site will obviously be included in your post.

Don’t want to contribute but know someone who might? Share this post with them! If there is something you’d like me to write about let me know in the comments below! Questions? Ideas?

 

Happy (Late) New Year! What I’ve Learned

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Are you guys having the best time EVER!?

Happy New Years! Revisiting The 1920's, booze, guns, wine, and jazz!

Happy New Years! Revisiting The 1920’s, booze, guns, wine, and jazz! I HAVE A FEATHER!

This year has been crazy. I feel more like myself than I have in a long while. I’m hopeful and I feel like my goals, while scattered, are actually coming together. My book is quasi finished. It took me 6 months longer than planned but I guess that’s life, right? I’m okay with it (or at least I’m trying to be, if I say it over and over again I might be…).

For New Years we were going to stay home with the in-laws but decided around 11:30 p.m. to go out for a few hours. By then everyone was already drunk or asleep but we found a Gatspy party in Phoenix that F was totally determined to go to even though it was practically midnight. We only stayed for a short while but we saw friends, a few fire breathers, some samba dancers. Everyone decked out in their finest 1920’s attire. I was practically naked and totally freezing but that’s what champagne is for. 2015 started with us on a hotel roof, champagne in hand, me, clad in fishnets and black fringe, F wearing a mobster outfit and gun holster.

I think that this year is going to be a big year for us and hopefully it’s totally BADASS.

Resolutions: my entire life is a giant resolution. I make them daily, weekly, and monthly but I only accomplish them about 9% of the time. I usually skip the New Years resolution but I think this year I could use an extra boost. We have a lot of decision to make, we’re on the cusp of so many huge projects coming to fruition. Holy shit! It’s pretty scary. I want to finish my books, get more articles published, blog more, and do more things to make the world totally badass so we don’t die. The world needs a lot of help, guys. Did you guys make any resolutions this year?

What I’ve learned this year: The only way to accomplish goals is to take the steps necessary to accomplish them every, single, day. There is never a right time to do it. Don’t think about it, or talk about it, just get on it and get it done. Don’t try to do it all at once, just do it a little at a time. Put everything you have into everything you do. I wish I’d learned this earlier. What life lessons have you learned? Put it in the comments below. I’m a slow learner and could use any help I can get.

What else I’ve learned? Go to Hawaii for the holidays from now on.

The holidays have been insane and have taught me a number of hard lessons like this gem via my MIL, “You’ll die if the house is warm and you go outside. So, you have to keep the house cold or wear three puffy coats, a hat, scarf, and hypothermia prevention blankets to venture out into 60 degree weather.” I might be slightly exaggerating that one, but not by much.

I’ve also learned that if I want to have any kind of a future, I should quit writing to “learn how to give pedicures at the beauty school,” again, according to my MIL. I should also get pregnant, like tomorrow, so my in-laws can punch my kids because good parents “smack their children a lot.”

We’re getting closer to starting a family. This year could be that year if I can get over my Tokaphobia (it’s a real thing) and be cool with having a freeloading sea monkey in my stomach for 9 months followed by it ninja-killing my vagina. Mostly. Having my in-laws here is kind of like baby repellent for me.

Another thing I learned: Multi-cultural families are very, very difficult. Approach with caution. They can be amazing, enriching, and wonderful but they can also be exclusive, prejudice, and confusing. A lot of the American expats I know find everything Italy related to be blissfully perfect (including nationalism and bigotry mistaken for “pride”). I don’t. I think that every country has its pros and cons and an ideal situation would allow you to pick and choose the best cultural things to create a whole lot of awesome. For example, I like the “Go Get It!” culture in the US, but I dislike the individuality and selfishness that can come with it. I love how family-oriented Italian culture is, but I dislike that appreciation and respect can quickly become controlling and manipulative.

After I gestate our mini-us, it’s going to have to be a person (and given the way my dog turned out my mini-person is going to awesome and a total terror). Also, this person will be related to my husband’s family. They’re not the worst people in the world and they have a lot of good things to offer our kids if they could just chill out a little (or a lot). It’s not just that they were raised in a tiny town, it’s not abnormal that they are traditional, a little narrow-minded, and not at all accepting of anything that isn’t from small-town, Italy.  They are also type A personalities, Italian nationalists, and people who have been married for forty years and dislike each other a lot which is probably common and is sad but they’re a little bitter and have some insane arguments on the reg that I’d prefer my kids not to witness, ever.

In addition, everything we do is always up for family debate. We once had a 40 minute conversation about what color of underwear I was wearing with tan pants and another time they carried my pap-smear results around the house talking amongst themselves about my vagina. I don’t mind the intrusion when it’s because they are concerned or just want to help. I loathe it when it’s a, “this is how we do it so you must or the world will end,” thing aka, “you can’t drink coffee before you shower,” or, “real men don’t do dishes.”

This attitude will be problematic for me because my idea of child-rearing is a bit different from theirs. Their parenting sounds like an 80’s rap song, “Just hit it… preferably in the head. If you can’t reach it to punch it, then scream in its face in public.” It’s not that I was never spanked, I definitely was, but I’d like to do things a bit differently with the fruit of my loins. What I’ve learned from having a dog around them is this: Regardless of how much I’m against hitting dogs, if I’m not around they’ll go ahead and do it for me. This worries me because if someone take it upon themselves to “spank” one of my kids I’ll break their damn arm off and beat them to death with it. The real problem is that my husband has “perfect son,” syndrome and he has a hard time telling them, “no,” and standing up to them. It’s not that he’s scared, it’s that he doesn’t want to hurt their feelings. I get that. I love my parents, a lot, but I’m okay with yelling at him, when he says something homophobic. Same with my mom. Franny, on the other hand, tunes it out and goes to his happy place somewhere deep inside his weird/brilliant engineer brain. Which is okay, but it leaves me yelling things at his parents like, “STOP POINTING AT BROWN PEOPLE AND SCREAMING, “MEXICAN!” WE ARE NOT IN A ZOO!” It’s awkward and not something I want to deal with as a parent. I might explode the first time my three year old plays, “Spot the Morrocan,” with it’s grandparents. I feel helpless because I feel alone in dealing with it. I also feel like it’s not my place to yell at someone else’ parents because I was taught not to yell at old people.

Even talking about children in front of them gives me anxiety. They have this idea that our children will only belong to Francesco. They’ll be HIS kids, completely absent from myself or my people. “You cannot raise your children to be multicultural. They must be Italian! THEY MUST BE ITALIAN” They told my husband, hysterically, as he tried to explain to them that our kids will be Persian, American, and Italian. Their view that anything that isn’t Italian is inherently bad is just depressing and it makes me sad to think that our kids will be “tainted,” in their minds. How will my kids feel being told they are only half “good?” My husband and I are in love and we’re happy. You would think that that alone would be enough for any parent.

Other words of wisdom from my in-laws regarding kids, “Your dog would be better if you hit him! HIT HIM! You can’t do like this with children! You’ll have to hit them”

“We believe that if you don’t baptize babies, if they die, they’ll go to purgatory.”

“Pasta is not a carb.”

“It’s healthier to eat donuts for breakfast than eggs.”

What I’m Trying To Learn This Year: How to navigate difficult personalities in a loving way without ruining relationships or murdering anyone. Hopefully it will be on my list next year of “Things I’ve Learned. If you have advice, I’d love to hear it.

Family aside, I want this year to be a year of accomplishing things without bullshit. I’m a procrastinator. I self-sabotage and am probably more afraid of getting what I want more than anything else. I hope this year I can kick my own ass and accomplish things I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Such as, FINISH MY DAMN BOOKS, travel more, possibly bake a mini-us, paint and draw more, and train Oliver to walk on a leash. Also, to be more romantic with my husband (on days I don’t want to put forks in his eyes). By “romantic,” I don’t mean “have more sex.” I mean, like, surprise him with dates, buy him flowers, and stuff. You pervs.

Another thing I’ve learned this year: We don’t have that much time. Time goes so fast and before you know it you’re 90 and haven’t done shit that you set out to do.

I hope you guys have a wonderful new year filled with magic, love, and accomplishments. Thank you for all the support, for the fun stories, the great advice, and the new friendships. Tanti baci, from us to you!

THIS IS A VERY LATE COSI POST! CHECK OUT MY FAVORITE ITALY BLOGS AND THEIR ITALY NEW YEARS STORIES ON COSI!