Going To An Italian Wedding In Italy

Last week Francesco and I attended a friends wedding near Cassino, Italy in Frosinone. I’ve never been particularly fond of weddings, or at least I didn’t used to be, mostly because a lot of weddings involve bored guests who stare absently into the abyss throughout the short reception, praying for it to end so they can get wasted and take off their damn ties and high heels. I love weddings where the guests just go nuts, celebrate, and have a wonderful time by sloppily flailing themselves around a dance floor or giving embarrassing speeches about the brides history of contracting crabs or the grooms decade as a gigilo… You know, fun weddings. After all, weddings are about celebrating love, and two people fusing their lives together despite their sordid past or addiction to fruity tootsie rolls. It should be fun, right? Luckily for me weddings in the south of Italy are usually a blast full of drink, merriment, and organized havoc. Yay!

In the morning of the wedding we got dressed in our “garden party,” best because it was a day wedding which is a hard outfit to pin down in Italy because weddings are surrounded by gossip and reputation is everything in these small towns. Day wedding doesn’t mean much in this part of Italy except for what you wear because the reception still usually goes well into the night. However, we would be eating lunch as the large meal instead of dinner, hence it being considered a “day,” wedding. Anyway, so we got dressed (and I wore a color that wasn’t back!!!! Go ME!) with my MIL pacing behind me saying “your dress could have been a bit sexier,” and “I don’t understand why you think you can do your own hair,” then we walked to the church in the center of Cassino where the bride and groom would be saying “i do.” In Cassino, it’s very rare to have a civil ceremony so pretty much everyone marries in the church whether or not they’re religious. All the guests met out front and waited for the bride to arrive in her cherry red sports car. She was a knockout, naturally.  I loved her backless, lace dress and regretted not wearing something a little more comfortable and sexy at my own wedding. Instead, I crashed down the aisle like a snow monster. She was damn cute (no pic though cause I try to respect people’s privacy and weddings are a big deal). 

We slowly made our way into the church behind the bride and groom. Immediately upon entering we were punished by the July sun because the church can afford a golf ceiling but not an air conditioner. Priorities. Plus, almost nowhere below the Bologna has bloody air conditioning for reasons I honestly can’t understand but I believe it has something to do with the Italians deep-seeded fear of wind and moving air. As we entered the church it was like walking into an oven. It was the first time in Italy that I was actually really stoked to have a vagina because I got to wear a dress while all of the men were suffering in full suits and I was all breezy and fresca. I watched sweat bead down the sides of their necks regardless of how furiously they fanned themselves.

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The ceremony was long compared to the one F and I had because I’m a heathen so they took all the religious stuff out of our “mixed ceremony.” Wew. Thank God. I had to sneak out with the guys a few times to get cold water because there was a real threat of dropping dead from the heat. Dying in a church during a wedding was not how I wanted to go because it would be embarrassing and God would be all “seriously?! Drink water you asshole!” God doesn’t like a wedding crashed either. 

They had a traditional Ceremony and they seemed incredibly happy, beaming tearfully at each other. The groom was all happy and crying but he said it was just swear beads to stay tough for his bros (who regularly wear turquoise pants…so something tells me they wouldn’t mind some crying or bear hugging). I really liked parts of the traditional ceremony and we incorporated some of them too. Like how the mom and dad stop halfway down the aisle in the beginning to exchange their kids, the mom hands her son to his bride, the dad hands his daughter to her groom (which I love) instead of the father “giving the bride away,” like he’s taking her to market for a cow and some chickens. It was also kind of gratifying for my MIL to hand me Francesco. I was like, “I win!!!! Thankyouverymuch! 

When the happy couple finally arrived before the priest in his white and gold robe my brain kind if turned off from heat. The priest talked about Jesus and stuff and then people prayed a lot. They exchanged rings, kissed, and signed the church document.

After the church we piled into cars to head to the reception location for lunch. In this part of Italy everyone has their reception at a restaurant but the restaurants generally have beautiful gardens or are located on mountain tops, etc. This restaurant was on a lake, surrounded by fields of wildflowers, and green grass. Absolutely stunning, and the perfect place for me and Dwayne to act out a scene from a Sophia Loren film. Dwayne would be Sophia, naturally, in Marriage Italian Stylr because sometimes Dwayne gets slutty. At the restaurant we hung out in the garden area with our friends Fusco and Roberto, watching waiters dressed in black bow-ties, carry silver trays of food to banquet tables for aperitivo (aperitif). The men folk huddled in the shade while I obnoxiously photographed them and wished that the waiters would stop rushing oysters to the tables and give us some damn water before we all turned to dust. I’ve probably never been more tempted to drunk lake water but Giardia wouldn’t go with my dress and who knows what explosive diarrhea would do for my reputation. Honestly, probably improve it.  Water did not arrive, but prosecco did, probably not hydrating at all but it numbed our thirst Or gave us brain damage that made us forget our thirst. Either way, prosecco is awesome. When the bride and groom arrived, followed by their paparazzi of photographers (seriously, they had like 7 that traveled in a pack, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I think one of them was also a Prada model that they kidnapped), aperitivo began.  It spanned four banquet tables: The oyster on a half-shell table, prosecco table, shrimp and calimari table, fish under oil, and fried fish table, and the cheese table.

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Bam! Winning at this wedding. #Italy #Travel #wedding

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The reception, ladies and gentlemen. #Italy #wedding #Travel

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Directly after the banquet tables were plundered until totally empty the party was moved inside (where they had air conditioning! yay!) for four food courses of saffron risotto, pasta with flaked fish, shrimp and Baccala. The food is the most important part of the wedding for Italians. For the next week the only question we were asked was, “but, did you eat well?” Even my eight year old neice walked straight up to me the next day to demand to know what we ate at the wedding. 

“Hai mangiato bene, zia?”

“Si” I showered her pictures. 

“Ma, solo questo?” She blinked, meaning “only this?” As in, “you only ate six courses?” 

Sigh, they learn young. Scrutinizing food is part of their livelihood and my little nieces have that shit down and have since about three. My niece also added, “zia, those shoes were a good choice with that dress. Very elegant.” 

Yes, at 8. 

Halfway through the #wedding lunch. Halfway. Ah, Italy! #Italy

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After we ate four courses in the restaurant we were moved outside again for dessert, coffee and more prosecco. The dessert took up another four tables: A gelato table, a cake table with the whipped cream and chocolate wedding cake and ten other tiny cakes from tiramisu to strawberry cream, the tarte table with fruit and cream tarts, and the fresh fruit table full of berries, watermelon, and melon.

When we’d all eaten to the point of wanting to drop dead, the DJ (the same one that did our wedding in 2013) turned up the speakers and started to jam old Italian pop classics like, “Fare L’Amore Comincia Tu,” and “Fa L’Americano.” Our friends went crazy on the dance floor which I made sure to document because holy fuck it was amazing. And! There was some kind of air humping line dancing. Yes, line dancing! Haven’t seen a good humpy line dance since the movie Le Grande Bellezze. 

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Manhandling the groom. @emanueledicarlo84 auguri caro!!!! I love it. #Italy #wedding #Travel

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Dancing, drinking, and general merriment continued until close to midnight, long after the entire wedding was shitfaced, multiple glasses shattered with enthusiastic dance moves, the men had long lost their jackets, unbuttoned their shirts to their belly buttons displaying glorious chest hair of various shades and thickness, and most of the women were barefoot, chucking their heels for comfort on the dance floor. 

And this is the Italy that I love. 

Rules of the Italian Kitchen: Guest Post By Jenny Marshall

In life, there is complicated and there is simple. The former category encompasses astrophysics, Zumba choreography, and divorcing with children. But breathing. Deciding not to wear Crocs in public. Eating. All of these, at least I used to think, fell under the latter.

And it would be so, if it weren’t for those damn Italians! They took a routine motion, something as seemingly simple as lifting food from plate to mouth, and they complicated it with all sorts of rules. Rules my untrained American stomach never imagined existed. Of course, they made the ritual act of eating 1,000 times better in the process, but man have they messed up my wonder-bread-bologne-sandwich game. I now have extreme guilt when I crave McDonald’s soft serve, or really anything that doesn’t resemble a labor of love.

If you’d like to remain blissfully ignorant of Italian culinary rules, read no further. You may be better off for it. If, however, you intuitively find the idea of combining dairy and seafood repulsive, you’re already half way to refinement. You might as well take the next step.

I must preface the following rules by saying that I’ve never actually lived in Italy, and three years residing in Spain doesn’t quite count as the same. I have, however, visited the Boot on four different occasions, staying with Italian locals and families, some of whom adored cooking. (Others, not so much. They have been ex-communicated.) And most influential of all, I’ve lived with and befriended several Italians while in Spain. One has told me that just looking at my typical morning oatmeal makes her nauseous. All have acutely judged me for drinking a cappuccino as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Me in Pisa 1

Through their tough love and brutally harsh mentoring, they have guided me towards the path of enlightenment that is the rules of the Italian kitchen:

1. No cold leftovers.

Cold pizza and pasta join the ranks of blueberry pancakes and Ben Affleck in the list of “Things I Would Like to Wake Up To.” But my Italian friends looked at me with that awful mix of disgust and pity when I declared during our last pizza and movie night, “No one eat the last slice, I need it for breakfast tomorrow.” Apparently congealed cheese and rock-hard dough have no place in a proper diet. So sue me.

2. Gelato just fills in the cracks.

There is always room for dessert. Always. Because actually ice cream is just liquid in a different form, and liquids don’t count. (Same goes for wine.) I feel like my American mother actually invented this rule but the Italians co-opted it and it’s one I can really get behind.

3. Pizza isn’t meant to be shared.

None of this slice business; a true Italian stomachs the whole pie. Sure, the crust tends to be thinner than what we Americans are used to, but I felt like that guy who polished off 200 hotdogs by the time I was just half through with mine. But no one let me off the hook. This was pizza from Naples, which means it’s actually more valuable than the current Euro.

pizza napoli

4. Bread is for doing “little shoe.”

In America, we scarf down a loaf of bread and a liter of olive oil at Italian restaurants before we even start the meal. It’s what I love most about my country. But in Italy, bread isn’t for tiding you over before the main course comes to the table; it’s for cleaning up after you’ve finished. “Fare la scarpetta,” or “do the little shoe,” is some really bizarre Italian idiom that means using bread to wipe your plate clean*. Someone was probably drunk off excellent Italian wine when they thought to use “little shoe” in this way, but it stuck. So don’t fill up on the stuff before the meal, just use it to your aid after the meal.

*Fare la scarpetta your face off but it’s not necessarily polite in formal dining situations.

5. Learn to embrace the metric system.

Bread is sold by weight, and pasta is measured into appropriate portion sizes, about 60-70 grams per person. The American obesity epidemic probably didn’t start from a couple of extra, unmeasured fistfuls of linguine, but one can never be too sure.

6. Avoid pairing certain foods together.

Parmesan cheese makes everything better, right?

WRONG, because dairy mixed with seafood wreaks havoc on the digestive process, or upsets the Pope, or something. Also mixing things that just don’t mix ruins the integrity of the meal, or at the very least doesn’t earn you Michelin stars. I would put Parmesan cheese in my morning breakfast cereal if it didn’t cost $14.99 a pound, but apparently I don’t know how to eat food.

prawns italy

7. Let the experts handle it.

Don’t show up to your friend’s house with the intention of learning to cook like her Neapolitan mother. She has years of practice, generations of family recipes, and Latin blood running through those veins. She may take you under her wing and agree to teach you how to make gnocchi from scratch, and you may have the best intentions in the world of trying. But after struggling to get the perfect curvature on each miniature dumpling and watching your hostess discreetly reshape every failed piece of dough you send her way, simply thank her so much for opening her kitchen to you and in return, offer to open her bottle of wine.

making gnocchi

8. Don’t stop eating.

This is especially true if you’re staying in an Italian household, and it’s the rule of God if you’re visiting over the holidays. People say Americans eat a lot, but that’s misleading. Sure, some American restaurants serve massive portion sizes, but in general Americans consume a lot of calories packed into very small quantities of actual food. Somehow that miniscule, wilting McDonald’s patty contains a year’s worth of saturated fat.

The thing is, Italians eat quality and quantity. And especially over the holidays, they eat appetizers, second appetizers, first courses, second courses, desserts, and barrels of wine. The dishes keep coming, like the host is trying to clean out the pantry before a long trip. But really there are no travel plans. There are just 40 variations of carbs and meat, and you better try them all.

Your pitifully shrunken American stomach is accustomed to “lunch” meaning 10 minutes away from the desk munching on a yogurt and a Cliff bar, so you better adapt fast. Four days clutching your stomach is preferable to insulting the host by putting down the fork prematurely.

9. Even Italians who don’t cook know how to cook.

My roommate’s mother is a badass. She refuses to slave away in the kitchen and rejects the notion that the kitchen is a woman’s domain. She throws together simple pasta dishes, sure, but also has the delivery guy on speed dial, which is almost sacrilege in a country where food equals religion. The mom dislikes cooking but what’s more, claims she doesn’t know how.

LIES.

If she doesn’t know how, then how do you explain our Boxing Day lunch? We’re talking tuna pate, grilled prawns with crudités, calamari risotto, leek and codfish stew, and homemade ginger cookies.

When I say, “I can’t cook,” it’s in reference to blowing up the microwave when I put some Indian takeout in with a metal fork. When she says, “I can’t cook,” it means she’s rarely attempted a 6-course meal, but this 4-course shit? She’s got that down pat.

10. Carbs only weigh down outsiders.

Because the cruel irony is, if you eat like this for a week, you come back five pounds heavier. If you eat like this for a lifetime, you can somehow still wear Valentino.

Arthur Bio:

Jenny Marshall at park guell1

Jenny Marshall writes about all things language, culture, and expat life over at A Thing For Wor(l)ds. Last year she “taught English” to babies in Barcelona, which really meant diaper duty. Luckily she also wrote for her blog and freelance travel outlets, so life wasn’t all just drool and poop. She recently moved back home to California, and is currently experiencing Iberian ham withdrawals. Keep up with her rants at her blog, or by following her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Traveling To Italy In The Summer: What To Wear, How To Pack, What To Do

This is my HOLY SHIT I’m GETTING READY, stunned, deer-in-a-headlight look.

What the fuck? Oh, a camera. Click.

What the fuck? Oh, a camera. Click.

Travel to Italy this year is booming because the dollar is finally almost as strong as the euro. It’s affordable now so naturally loads of people from the US are hopping over to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world: Italy. Now, the summer is tricky because it’s beautiful, a perfect time for beaches and the architecture looks that much more beautiful kissed in the warm sunlight but it’s crowded, hot, and expensive even with the stronger dollar. As most of you know already, Francesco took a new job in the US so now we’re living in between Italy and (gasp) Arizona (but soon to be Utah). Let’s get it out in the open that I hate long flights, i hate them. I’m inpatient and my anxiety makes my life miserable because I’m like, “Oh my God I bet my blood is clotting and I’m going to be an amputee,” or “If we crash in the ocean the sharks will eat me….or at least chew off my legs.” Sigh. I’ve learned from taking 10,000 international flights that one of the best ways to handle the long flight is to prepare for it, all of it, from the discomfort to the stinky, dirty, feeling horrible factor. I know that I’m about to sound like a crazy person but trust me, these tips will help you feel human after being strapped into a chair and forced to breathe in the carbon dioxide of strangers for 8-15 hours depending on where you’re coming from.

YOUR LONG ASS FLIGHT CARRY-ON

  • Always pack undies, an extra outfit, contact solution, etc., in case your luggage is temporarily lost. And? This happens all the damn time so really prepare for it.
  • Lavender water face mist. Yeah, for men and women, and here’s why: It makes you calm, relieves anxiety, helps you sleep and stops your face from drying out and looking like a zombie for the next week. Flying dries out your body so hydrate your face off.
  • Deodorant body wipes: Target has these in their travel section and you can use them on your entire body so you don’t land smelling like a bog monster plus they leave a fine coat of powder so you feel soft and dreamy.
  • Airborne packets, the normal ones and the ones with Melatonin: You’re trapped with weird humans in a germ capsule, getting sick on your trip is the worst way to spend your vacation. I take one packet with melatonin when I get on to make me tired and help me sleep, and then I take a normal one WITHOUT melatonin before landing. You’re thinking, “But M.E., this is a ton of shit,” but trust me, prevention can make your trip awesome or terrible and it’s not worth wasting money on a vacation when you’re dying in the hotel room from the bird flu or some other crazy shit you contracted on the plane from some baby sitting next to you snotting into your wine goblet.
  • Yes To Cucumbers, Cucumber face cleansing wipes: Also available at Target. You’ll feel a billion times better if you can wash your face when you wake up from your in flight slumber.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Obvious, dudes, nobody has time for your dragon breathe AND you’ll feel much better and less icky.
  • Melatonin pills: I bring these just in case because sleeping on the plane will do wonders for you. Don’t take more than directed and read instructions carefully.
  • Protein bars: I am always starving on the plane because plane food is mostly simple sugars and shit. A lot of shit.
  • Giant ass bottle of water I buy in the airport after security. The flight attendance never give out enough water and flying sucks the water out of you.
  • Ear plugs, that mask thing that blocks out the light, AND FUZZY SPA SOCKS! I wear flip flops in the airport so in the plane I put them in my carry-on, and put on fuzzy spa socks. They moisturize and make love to your feet while you’re crammed in uncomfortable positions. Not to mention, this way you’re not kicking off your stinky ass shoes and ruining the flight for everyone. Trust me, wear flips flops, and use the spa socks. Guys and ladies, you’ll do it once and never, ever not do it. PLUS, in Italy you’ll want to wear house shoes because the flooring is usually cold in your apartment, etc and your flip flops will come in handy.

WHAT TO WEAR IN ITALY IN SUMMER

I’m going to a wedding in Cassino next week which means days with my in-laws (&%/£$%£) and then 12 hours of eating the day after I step off of an international flight. I found my dress for the wedding at Nordstrom. This season, in Italy, floral prints, lace, and red are really in for wedding guest attire. How do I know that? Because Francesco researched it first and sent me a buttload of articles like this one on How To Dress For A Wedding Ceremony As A Guest. Here is my dress, with nude sandals and a nude clutch.

As per usual, interesting cuts, loose-fitting blouses, and neutrals are also in for Italy every summer. Skinny jeans in red, teal, aqua, or a variety of bright colors are also in right now for both men and women. Men, pair with a t-shirt, ladies, a loose fitting blouse or loose fitting t-shirt. The style in Italy is often balanced, if you wear tight pants you don’t typically wear a skin-tight shirt too. But again, every region of Italy has a different style. Florence is more fashion meets bohemian. An excellent place to shop in the US for european-styled clothing is Zara. Honestly, in Florence, a lot of the locals shop there and mix Zara pieces with more expensive Italian-made items. Bring big sunglasses, comfortable shoes (like Toms or some other versatile shoe and sandals but avoid Flip Flops in public because those are only worn in homes or at beaches), a few nice outfits for dinner (remember, Italians don’t do dinner in yoga pants, they dress up in nice clothes), and sunscreen. I use Beach Bum because it’s all natural and not toxic (I swear to jesus this is not a Target post but you can buy it there as well). Beware of high heels, ladies! If you’re used to wearing them on cobblestones than go for it but if not I’d try to stick with a fatter heel if possible. It’s about 100 degrees right now, with like 40% humidity so keep that in mind when you’re packing.

THE BEST INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS FOR ITALIAN FASHION

  • Filippo Fiora: For men’s fashion and high fashion. This is for the luxury level man who wants to look like a million bucks, wear a suit like a champion, and work the streets like a fashion God.
  • Fashion Wire Press: These guys cover street style and high fashion. I love their street pics. Gives you an idea of how the well-dressed locals work it on the streets.
  • Alley + Rae: For children’s clothing that is hip and fun. It’s not an Italian brand, BUT, their cool t-shirts and little outfits are totally something you’d see on kids in Italy.
  • Chiara Ferragni: Street fashion, put together looks, fashion week, and all things clothing. She’s one of the biggest fashion bloggers in Italy and I love her instagram account. It’s women’s fashion only for the most part but it’s a good insight and it’s very northern Italy (Milan) which is crazy similar to a mix of NY and CA.
  • M.E.: I will be documenting, stalking, and doing my usual street fashion stuff during my entire trip throughout Naples, Rome, Cassino, Florence, and who knows where else! Follow me for the RIGHT NOW look at what to wear starting this Friday.

WHAT TO DO IN ITALY FOR YOUR SUMMER VACATION

  • As usual I’m going to try to persuade you to do an “off the beaten path,” trip because holy shit so fun. You’ll have a less crowded, more “authentic,” Italian experience. Rent a car, drive all over Italy, and stay in some fabulous agriturismo places along the way, like this one La Tavola Marche. I haven’t been yet but it’s on my list for this trip given I have the time (fingers crossed).
  • Check out the islands. Sardegna, Elba Island, or Sicily are what dreams are made of and surprisingly you’ll find less tourists there than in places like Florence. You can drive around the country and then take a super cheap Ryanair flight over to the islands.
  • Travel in groups (if you can) of friends and rent apartments instead of hotels. It can end up being a lot cheaper that way. We almost only use apartments when we travel because you can cook, chill, and split the cost with friends. Kind of perfect. Check out Flipkey for cute apartments!
  • Go camping! Italy has tons of campgrounds and a lot of them are not like the camping we have in the US. This is Italian camping, where you can stay in a “cabin,” which is actually a stand-alone hotel room, and campgrounds usually have swimming pools, clubs, bars, and cafes. Yes, seriously.

What else would you guys recommend for an awesome July trip in Italy? Put your suggestions in the comments below and help me find new things to do on this trip I’m leaving for in THREE DAYS plus it’s always helpful for other readers. Can’t wait, ladies and gents. And? I just ordered a unicorn head mask from Amazon that arrives tomorrow. For Italy. It’s a long story.

Furbizia: The Italian Art Of Being Sly

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Image: http://mobilesecurityreport.com/

When my in-laws were here last Christmas (some of you remember that insane three week period of my life), Francesco and I took them to Las Vegas for a few days. After our hotel lost our reservation, twice, and gave us a room without pillows (WTF!?) Francesco complained and the hotel gave us a discount. The moment my in-laws heard that we’d complained and therefore been given a discount their eyes all but burst out of their sockets. My God, the possibilities! My father-in-law joked, “We should go to a restaurant and say we’re sick so we get free food! We should tell them that all of their food made us vomit!” The ideas started to flow. How could we get everything for free in the US from that moment forward?

“But how are businesses still in business?” My father-in-law asked, “doesn’t everyone just lie to get everything for free?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because complaining about stuff has consequences and people could lose their jobs?” I responded, confused, “I mean, I guess dirtbags do it.”

“This would never work in Italy. The business would go broke!”

“If they had good customer service they’d go broke?” I asked.

“Yes! Everyone would lie to get it for free and nobody would pay for it anymore. It would be stupid for the business” he laughed.

My father-in-law is a man who loves rules, is an upstanding citizen, and a retired detective. This is a man who runs his home like a military camp, and yet he was thrilled that his son had been “furbo,” by getting a discount at the hotel. When I told him that Francesco wasn’t doing anything clever or sneaky, he was simply letting the manager know there were problems, and that in the US it’s normal to do that but not to exploit it, his mind was nearly blown.

I’m not sure that another scenario could better sum up the Italian sub-cultural phenomenon of Furbizia than that conversation. By definition, Furbizia is basically a quality of “achieving goals using ingenious tricks,” according to the Italian dictionary. Clever, cunning, sly, are some other synonyms. One could also call it being a massive douche bag, but often in Italy, within certain groups, it’s considered smart.

A common perception is that the person being sly is a badass whereas the person being screwed over is a moron who deserves it for not paying attention or not exploiting the opportunity themselves. If you think about it, it’s a genius way to be a dick and take zero responsibility for it. Sadly, it contributes to a cultural layer of manipulation and distrust. The sly trick can be as small as making a business agreement with someone then “accidentally” fudging it, feigning ignorance when caught, or it can be as large as Bettino Craxi who famously embezzled taxpayer’s money and then fled to Tunisia. How clever. It’s not necessarily lying or cheating, rather, exploiting possibilities. It is a game of who can cut all the angles or out sneak their opponent and by opponent I mean the rest of the world.

I’ve been overcharged for drinks, screwed in business deals (also recently, note: we bloggers all talk, bad idea to play sneaky with our crowd, asshole businesses), ass-raped by landladies, all in the game of furbizia. It’s not uncommon, especially if you’re foreign and speak Italian like a drunk toddler. It’s a lot more difficult to pull one over on a local because they are so damn prepared for it that they are constantly on guard. Even my eight year old niece is skeptical of the world already. My husband seems to think that everyone is trying to sneak one over on him and unfortunately it’s because people often are. He’s the kind of guy where someone will try to give him a free sample in Costco and he’ll back away nervously wondering what they want in return. When Francesco and I first started dating he wondered if I had ulterior motives, that I was furbo because “nobody is this honest, you’re trying to trick me.” I actually thought he was insane until I noticed that a lot of his friends approached the world with the same doubt. It isn’t to say that everyone in Italy is trying to screw each other, that’s not true at all, for example most of our friends couldn’t be further from this type of behavior, but sometimes it can feel like the whole country is trying to bend you over (without lube).

The “art,” of furbizia is basically the art of pushing all the boundaries and some people are pros. You’ve seen it before in every soccer game where an Italian player will throw themselves to the ground and pretend to be injured to buy time. Francesco’s teammates used to do that during games and the Europeans from the other teams wanted to kill them. “Just play an honest game mate!” they’d yell. The Italians would smile after the match, “Did you see what I did,” proud of their contribution to the win. It’s a bit different in soccer than the other examples but the idea is still the same.

Every country has liars and thieves, assholes, and douchebags. In the US we have it all, probably more of it, but it seems a bit different. In the US these sneaky types are usually either blatant criminals or involved in white collar crime (arguably much worse) but I’ve never worried that a Starbucks employee might over charge me for a coffee so they could pocket the change (not because Americans are better people, but because people would lose their goddamn jobs and their minds. And surveillance cameras of the all-knowing big brother are pervasive in American culture). Until now, I probably just gave everyone an awesome idea. Great. I’m onto you, Starbucks. 

You would think that after so many years i’d be used to it but I’m not sure that’s possible. Not because I’m gullible or naive but because I’m lazy. I don’t have the energy to check, double check, triple check to see if people are pulling one over on me or not. If I do notice, it pisses me off and I’ll end that relationship immediately (especially business relationships) but I can’t seem to get into the mindset of wondering constantly if there’s a loophole to take advantage of or if I’m being screwed. It just seems exhausting, although, if I did hop on the bandwagon of furbizia I might save a lot of euros here or there, and in a culture of the  cunning, with politicians playing the same game, and economies failing, we could all use an extra buck and an extra boost.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a COSI post! The fun never ends! Check out what my fellow bloggers had to say about the same subject.

Girl In Florence: Why Being Furbo In Italy Is Anything But Cool

Rick Zullo: What Does It Mean To Be Furbo?

Unwilling Expat: Italy’s Cheating Heart

Englishman In Italy: Furbizia

Sex, Lies, And Nutella: Tourists Beware Fighting Furbizia In Italy

Married to Italy: Furbizia- a blessing or a curse

The Florence Diaries: A life lesson in Con-Artistry