When we walk into a new place, meet a new person, or encounter a new situation, we go in with preconceptions. Upon arriving, we make snap judgments to gain a sense of control and organization of the world in our mind.
I can’t explain in words what my preconception of Italy was before traveling there, I only know now that my senses were shocked in the best way by how wrong I was compared to the beautiful place, rich culture, and incredible people I encountered there.
Fond dreams and flashbacks of my 20 days in Italy continue, causing me to ponder why I haven’t packed my bags already to make the stay permanent.
The following facts, tips, and figures of speech were compiled over my time spent in Rome, Pisa, Cascina, Florence, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Milan, and Genova. I found these takeaways fascinating, comical, or thought-provoking, so I knew I had to share them on my blog!
- Each region of Italy has their food speciality(ies), and they take great pride in their own. Be sure to ask about and try the local cuisine wherever you travel to in Italy.
2. The pinnacle of gelato craftsmanship is in Italy. I can’t explain the thick, rich creaminess; it’s something you’ll have to experience yourself and then let me know if I’m wrong saying it has to be the best in the world.
3. Disco tech is the name for a dance club like we have in America. “Club” in Italy means strip club, sex shop, etc. Hence, don’t say you want to go “clubbing” here. Instead say you want to go to a disco tech, if that’s your desire.
4. Along the same lines, don’t question the sanity of Italians if they say Sunday morning is a great time to go to the bar. A bar in Italy is synonymous to a café or coffeehouse in America.
It opens around 7am with espresso and pastries, and then it stays open until 11 or 12 at night where it becomes an American understood bar with beer and cocktails, etc.
5. When Italians attach to someone, they do so deeply. I felt like a daughter of my host mom, of her mom and dad, and of her sister; all of whom immediately welcomed me into their home with delicious meals and warm conversation (translated from Italian by my host dad of course!).
6. Americans use the words “I love (pizza, traveling, this book, that store)” very flippantly. In Italy, they only use I like “mi piace” for those things. “I love” is saved for one’s significant other, and occasionally for family members. Without saying the words, they have an implicit understanding of their caring for one another. Therefore, it’s perceived as very genuine when the words “I love you” are said, since it’s not as commonly used as it is in other places.
7. IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW: The usual practice for Italians is to order their espresso, drink it standing up right there at the bar whilst reading the paper, having a smoke intermittently, talking amicably with the barista, then placing down their coins and walking out with a friendly “Ciao! Ciao, ciao, arrivederci!”.
8. A lot of public restrooms don’t have a toilet lid. I have no idea why, I’m just forewarning you. For guys it’s great, no worrying about the lid. For the ladies…you’ll get great legs from squatting to avoid touching the toilet!
9. “Amica del cuore” translates to best friend. This is reserved for one’s true best friend. I think in America we call many people a best friend, forgetting that the word “best” can’t really be plural. But it’s a term of fondness and love regardless of how many people we use it for.
10. The following are “figures of speech” I was taught in Italy that I found clever:
A stingy person is said to have “short arms” and will often be called a T-Rex.
Something that happens quickly or is over in a flash is said to be “like a cat on the highway.”
One who eats a lot is said to have “a good fork”.
The Tuscan way of saying that they’re overheating or cooking in the sun is “we’re drying our bones”.
“White Week” is the term used for a week in the winter spent skiing (for Italians, usually in the Alps.)
My absolute favorite phrase I was taught was “Catch the Moment”. It’s fairly self-explanatory, but to me it means trust that first instinct you have for a new adventure, for helping someone you see struggling with their luggage in the metro, for enjoying the present moment.
My mind broadened, my heart expanded, and my waist line widened during my unbelievable 20 days in Italy. I would not trade that time for anything in the world. Thank you to all the people I met along the way who made it a journey to remember, and a destination I will have to return to very very soon!
the tall girl