Moving To Italy: 7 Things I’d Do Differently The Second Time Around

Sadly, I’m not a time traveler. I know that now you all think less of me, and that sucks, but I just wanted to be honest with everyone. But IF I COULD go back in time there are no less than 4,543 things I would do differently. How I went about moving to Italy would  probably be in my top 10 because I could have done it a lot better and my life would have been so much easier for years and year.

Vantage Points

1.I Would Have Learned More About The Culture: Without a solid grasp of the culture you won’t be able to understand your surroundings, to communicate, or to really understand the people you’ll meet, your partner (if they’re Italian) or their family. Americans, more than anyone, will not understand why this is number one or they’ll be like, “they like spaghetti, I get the culture.” The reason that Americans have a difficult time grasping how culture impacts communication is that American communication is really straightforward. Note: This has nothing to do with honesty. Americans can lie just like anyone. Again, it’s not about honesty, it’s about how we communicate. There aren’t a lot of hidden meanings in American communication, there’s no double-speak (unless you’re a politician), and you don’t really need to understand the culture to understand what people are saying necessarily. Sure, there might be miscommunication, like how F used to always tell me, “well, nobody just says what they mean, so I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say.” And I was like, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!? Italy is not that way. Half of what people are saying is hidden below the surface and you have to understand the culture to get it. It’s not because everyone has some insidious intent, it’s just how the culture works. You can learn Italian, you can speak it fluently, but without a very solid grasp of the culture you will still be losing a huge amount of all communication. And, frankly, you’ll just be confused as shit all around. You’re thinking, “cool, I’ll just learn it from my husband or wife or nonna.” No, you won’t. Because they don’t often even know that what they’re doing is cultural or different from you. If you’re about to visit Italy, study in Italy, or move to Italy, you want to start reading, RIGHT NOW.

Resources For Learning About Italian Culture (From my Amazon Store)

2. I Would Have Learned Italian Months Before My Departure Date: Most likely you’re thinking like me and many of my friends who moved to Italy. “What better place to learn Italian than in Italy?” Trust me, no. You will learn Italian in Italy, for sure, and it is easier when you’re hearing it every day, but that first year that you’re there and unable to understand a goddamn thing is frustrating, isolating, and annoying as shit. Plus, people will expect you to speak the language even if you’ve been there for 20 minutes and the pressure certainly doesn’t help. Want to move to Italy? Great! But seriously, spend the money and buy Rosetta Stone, right now. No, you don’t have to buy it from my Amazon store, you can also buy it from Barnes And Noble. And, download Duolingo to your smart phone. The app is free, and even 15 minutes per day will be a lifesaver when you’re lost on an Italian street, unable to find your way home or your boyfriend’s mom is saying crazy shit to you and you need a classy response. You’re probably rolling your eyes at the Rosetta Stone, and so did I, until my roommate in Italy was able to speak Italian like a superstar 3 months into using it while I was barely able to name common household pets. It works. Use it.

Tips For Learning Italian While Still In The US

  • Rosetta Stone
  • Duolingo
  • Watch Italian films with English subtitles at least a few times per week (Sophia Loren films are a great place to start and work your way up to contemporary films).
  • Listen to Italian music, find the words in English, and it will help you memorize them by singing along.

3. I Would Not Have Spent Money On Dumb Shit. You’re moving to a new country and you’ll be tempted to buy 10,000 things before you go. Don’t. Italy has everything you could possibly need. And, their clothes are nicer and often cheaper than in the US. Save your money, get to Italy, and then buy all the shit you’ll need. The one exception might be makeup or skincare if you’re super particular. If you’re picky like me, then maybe you want to bring some of your favorite face stuff. Yes, Italy has great stuff but I like really specific stuff and the Sephora in Italy doesn’t carry any of the same shit that we have in ‘Merica.

4. I would have made it a point to do something new every day. I’m a habitual person. Really habitual. Like, when I wash my body in the shower I do it the same way every single day. When I find places I like, I tend to go there instead of trying new places. I travel a lot but I still tend to quickly find “my kind of places,” and go there. Last year when I was in Prague, I found a cookie shop that I liked and me and F would only buy cookies from THAT place. Mind you, it was the most adorable cookie shop in all the world. But still, I didn’t see any of the other cookies shops because of it. I did the same thing when I moved to Italy. While I definitely did a lot of stuff every year, I often found myself seeking the comfort of familiarity which prevented me from doing as much cool stuff as I could have. If you’re going to be spending a semester, year, or decade in Italy, I’d recommend forcing yourself to do something different at least every week, if not every day. Rent a car and drive around the country, try every cafe in the city, and every restaurant, too. Go tango dancing (I did, and it was SO FUN). The city has a lot to offer. If I could redo my student time there, that’s what I would have done differently. My friend and fellow blogger, Georgette, from Girl In Florence, is super awesome at getting out and doing EVERYTHING. She inspires me to be less boring.

5. Read the newspaper, follow current events, and pay attention. I got involved in this years after living in Florence and frankly it’s just embarrassing. If you live in any country for even a short amount of time it’s simply smart to know what the shit is going on in that country. TheLocal, is a great place to start to learn about what’s happening in Italy, in English. You’ll also look less dumb at dinner parties. For my first two years all that I knew was that Berlusconi was a douchebag. That’s where my knowledge ended and I really just reinforced the stereotype that Americans live in a bubble. You’d be surprised just how much you can learn about a culture, the people, and the history of the country by following politics and current events.

6. When dating, I would have set boundaries a lot sooner. My husband is a total badass but he’s also an enormous pain in the ass. And for a long time when I moved to Italy I forgave a lot based on “cultural differences.” Basically, I wrote off a lot of rude or stupid shit by justifying it in my head as “probably a cultural thing.”

No. Asshole behavior is the same in Italy as in the US. If someone is being an overbearing douche, you can say, “no thanks, asshat.”

Also, I spent years doing that American thing where I’m like, “well, I can’t very well be direct with his family because, geez, how rude. Tee-hee.” No. Italians, with all of their fashion and prettiness, are tough. They’re like bedazzled bombs. These are people who exist without air conditioning while wearing long sleeve button-ups and slacks. Don’t fuck with them. If you allow it, they’ll end you, and then the community widow will bake biscotti with your remains.

Also, Bella Figura. You know how high school girls are in movies where they’re like vicious monsters who are also perfect citizens and super polite in public and also sometimes to their enemies while they’re being horrible? A lot of that exists in Italy. Master that shit. Italians can insult you while smiling from ear to ear and being charming as fuck all the while. If you don’t understand the culture you won’t even know you’re being insulted. Also, if someone is opinionated, push back.  For example, my MIL will show up and be like, “yo, I’m decorating your house orange cause I don’t like how you did it!” And before I was like, “Oh, how kind,” while trying not to vomit. Now I’m like, “No, brown is ugly, no thanks.” And she’ll shrug and go, “ah, ok.” Stand up for yourself, family or friend, and lay down the law. Smile while you do it to add to the creepy factor. If you don’t have your own back, everyone will walk all over you, decorate your house hideously, dress you, and tell you that your dog is anorexic (the vet said he was the only dog of a healthy weight in all of Italy, the land of chubby poodles).

7. Spend more time asking question about others and less time observing them. I like to watch people. It’s a thing I do, often, in life. At parties I’ll usually be the person in the back, getting shitfaced while I uncomfortably stare at everyone. I did the same thing in Italy for a long time. I just watched people like a weirdo stalker instead of trying to get to know people and ask them about themselves, their culture, their family, etc. You can learn a lot about a place by paying attention, but you can learn a lot more by asking a lot of questions and getting to know people and getting their perceptions about their country. Find a language partner, or a cute barista, or bartender, and get to know them. Ask them endless questions about Italy. Maybe have sex with them if they’re into it (yay consent) and then ask them even more questions after the fact or during if you’re into that.

And there you have it! If you could move to Italy all over again, what would you do differently? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!

 

 

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!

A Glimpse Of The Real Florence, Italy. By Kari Varner

I’m really excited to feature photos from this amazing photographer Kari Varner. Kari is also a former SACI student and she’s incredibly talented (Unlike me. My photos look like a child took them after over-dosing on baby Benadryl). I love her style of photography, it’s super intimate and I feel like I’m standing right there with her. But not so much in a stalker sort of way. This series really captures the feel of Florence. I know you guys are going to love them as much as I do. Tell me which one is your favorite in the comments below (I especially like the dead pigeon since I’ve stepped over many of them on the streets of Florence and I have a weird love/hate relationship with bird corpses because of it. But not like a serial killer.).

REFLECTIVE PUDDLES (or, where I fell down)

1_ReflectivePuddles

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7 Really Great Resources That Will Prepare You For Italy

This isn’t a real post so I apologize. It’s more of a post answering emails. Sort of. I’m often asked for resources and recommendations on moving to Italy, so, alas, here is a roundup of my favorite resources from my little Amazon store. It also kinda supports my alcoholism wine habit. I hope you find some of the resources helpful. Am I missing something? Tell me! I’ll add it.

I suppose it’s common sense that knowledge and understanding can greatly enrich your travel experience, yet, I didn’t realize that nor did I prepare at all. When I decided to move to Italy I was more focused on preparing for the school I would be going to and not at all worried about preparing for living in another country. I figured I’d just learn once I arrived. I did learn, gradually, but more than that I spent a lot of time confused, while looking like a complete moron. The more you know about Italy the more you’ll be able to enjoy your time there right from the gate.

Italian culture is complex, the way things work, the way the people operate, can be impossible to appreciate or understand without some historical context or alcohol. It’s a rich country with thousands of years behind it. Thousands. Of. Years. So, there are so many dead bodies under the streets. That’s like the US times ten or fifteen or…What is it? I suck at math. Anyway, you’ll fit in better, you’ll see things deeper, and you’ll have a richer experience if you’ve taken the time to learn as much as possible. I know for a fact that my experience as a student would have been a lot better (and I would have looked a lot less stupid) if I’d taken the time to do some reading before jetting of to good ole Italy. So, if you’re planning a trip to Italy or you’ll be studying or moving there soon, these are my top picks from my little Amazon store of the best resources to get you in the know as fast as possible. Seriously, I have like 100 but you’ve got shit to do and who has time for more than 7 when you’re packing?

1. The Documentary Italy, Love It Or Leave It. 2014. This is a new, funny and moving documentary about two young Italian men as they try to understand why so many Italians are leaving their country. During their search for answer they cover an array of social problems from marriage equality to fascism. It’s touching, and it will quickly give you an understanding of what young Italians are struggling with. You’ll come away with a deep sense of the modern culture and history. It’s a must see.

Italy: Love it or Leave it

2. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Learning Italian. No, I don’t think you’re all idiots but this is one of the best books I’ve read as far as breaking down grammar, etc. Textbooks really complicate the whole process of conjugating verbs, etc., but this book makes it easy as hell. I took lessons, have an Italian husband, but this book is where I actually learned HOW verbs work. Admittedly, I am much better at hear=repeat, than “break apart and put back together.” It’s because I hated puzzles as a child.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Italian, Fourth Edition (Idiot's Guides)

3. Language tools: Now, from my experience, the best language tool ever for learning Italian is Rosetta Stone. This shit worked amazingly well. Both myself and my roommates learned a huge amount of our conversational skill with the program. However, it’s expensive and might only be worth the money if you want to work on fluency. If you can’t shell out the money for it, sell one of your kids or try DuoLingo.com or Babbel.com. I’ve used both and I love them both for learning new languages. Duolingo is free, but Babbel is like 7 dollars per month or something. I have Duolingo on my phone (the app is awesome) for both spanish and french, and I use Babbel to keep building my Italian and improving. Really, really great tools. I highly recommend starting this asap. The more Italian you speak, the better your life will be in Italy. Take it from someone who avoided learning it for as long as possible (because I’m an idiot).

Learn Italian: Rosetta Stone Italian - Level 1-5 Set

4. Family Politics By Paul Ginsburg. Dr. Ginsburg is one of the most important historians in Europe. He teaches at the University of Florence and his books offer incredible insight into Italian culture, history, and society. You can’t understand Italy without understanding the family dynamics and how they came to take shape. My life in Italy completely changed once I married into an Italian family. The family dynamics are so complicated, interesting, strong, and incredibly annoying in many ways. All of his books were very helpful on my depressed days when I was wondering, “what the hell is wrong with these people?” Ah, answers! Plus, I’m friends with his son who is also a total badass.

Family Politics: Domestic Life, Devastation and Survival, 1900-1950

5. La Bella Figura. You need this book. That’s really all I’m going to say about it. It’s a great cultural guide and it also covers the infamous Bella Figura,  a concept that is so insanely Italian (and it’s one of the cultural things that frustrates me the most, especially in the south). Impress, Impress, IMPRESS. You can’t live in Italy without this book. You just can’t. It will be one of the best things you’ve read. Plus, it will probably save your Italian friends and family (or partner) some embarrassment and frustration.

La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

6. Italianissimo. This is a great coffee table book, it’s gorgeous, and it’s funny. You’ll learn a ton of useful things about culture, the history of words, Italian hand gestures, all with the help of badass photos. I have this on my coffee table. My friends find it highly amusing.

Italianissimo: The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best

7. In Pursuit Of Italy: A History of A Land, It’s Regions, And Their People. Alright, so this book is really in-depth, a little heavier, but you’ll understand so much about Italy and the people who live there after you’ve finished it. Also, you’ll appear smart and educated at dinner parties.  In order to understand Italians it’s absolutely necessary to know the history and the complexity of the different regions. Italians often have the assumption that Americans are uneducated about the entire world outside of the US so prove them wrong by arming yourself with all this fancy knowledge. Really. Especially if you want to make roots in Italy, you’ll need to understand it so you can do better in battle. By battle I mean dinner parties.

The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions, and Their Peoples

BONUS: The film Marriage Italian Style with Sophia Loren. Italy’s cultural obsession with the madonna/whore complex is amazing/weird and this movie (among plenty others) highlights that dichotomy of the “Italian woman,” as depicted by the patriarchy better than most. Basically, just ignore my rambling and watch it. It’s a really good movie.

What is your favorite resource? Have you read or used any of these? Were they helpful to you in any way? Please let everyone know what resources have helped to enrich your Italy experience, learn Italian, or fill in the cultural blanks for you!

10 Surprising Ways That Studying In Florence, Italy Will Change You

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1. You’ll become addicted. There are few people who study in Italy and think to themselves, “Meh, whatev, Ohio is way better.” Once you’ve lived in Florence there will probably be a small part of you that always wants to return. You’ll develop a permanent sort of nostalgia for the place.

2. Your friends will be totally annoyed with you. “In Italy…” for the five-millionth time will get old and everyone will want to slap the shit out of you. Instead of talking about Italy, just gaze longingly at your scrap book. Eventually you’ll resort to hours on blogs about living in Italy.  <—-Winning!

3. When you return to the US you’ll be appalled by how the guys dress (with the exception of NY, of course). You’ll probably get all judgy about outfits and demand that your boyfriends dress better or, if you’re a guy, you’ll probably get teased for not dressing like a basketball team member anymore. You’ll open your closet and lovingly stare at your skinny jeans and v-neck sweaters that you want to wear but can no longer muster the confidence.

4. Anytime someone makes pasta or pizza it will remind you of how much people suck at making pasta and pizza. Everywhere is terrible except for your beloved Italy.

5. Florence will become a perfect place in your mind. “That would never happen in Italy,” or, “In Italy the men actually shit rainbows. Real rainbows. It’s like Rainbow Bright in every bathroom.”

6. The rest of university will seem lame especially if you’re studying architecture, art history, fashion or anything that’s better in Florence. Going back to Minnesota or wherever will suddenly feel like your education is being stolen from you. How can you possibly learn about Di Vinci like this?

7. If you’re a woman, you’ll be so resistant to cat-calling that you’ll no longer notice college perverts. Is that guy screaming, “WHATSUP LADIES!?” You hardly noticed, you’ve been getting screamed at for months, in Italy.

8. Back in Merca’ at least once you’ll  attempt to buy booze you’re not old enough to buy. Or, if you’re over 21, you’ll try to skip down the street with a bottle of wine, only to be tackled by your friends as they wrestle the jail sentence out of your hand and toss it into a bush. You’ll forgive them as you lay crying on the sidewalk.

9. You’ll feel larger than life and probably become a little cocky. Living in another country is hard. Once you’ve mastered that it’s impossible not to feel like the master of the universe.

10. You can make a game out of confusing the shit out of your parents and childhood friends at home. The entire experience will change parts of you that you don’t even notice were changed. Everyone else will notice. They’ll probably talk about it behind your back while mimicking you with large hand-gestures.

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. 

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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 because apparently I’m a giant whore. 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. Following them home and then watching them eat dinner through their fourth story window. Just kidding. 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? Continue reading