The Driving. It’s bad, its stressful and thrilling at the same time. At least one Italian driver will wave his hands at you, one small Smart car will squeeze into a non-existent space next to you and one scooter will try dice you.
The Italian Kitchen. It’s jam packed with coffee makers, cheeses, cured meats, more coffee makers and a Nonna chirping instructions…stay clear.
Pack Patience. When you decide to go to the post office, the bank or even just sit down for a meal you must be prepared for a lengthy and mostly drama filled experience. Even if you are their only customer this does not matter, they will take their time.
The Carbs will find you. Do not go looking for the carbs in Italy. They will find you. Bread will be on your table at every meal, breakfast means pastries, next focaccia, pasta, risotto, pizza etc…they will find you.
The Cafe. Espressos are strong and drunk like they are going out of fashion. Cappuccinos are for tourists. Tea does not exist. But 1 euro for a delicious espresso everywhere in Italy, tell me I’m dreaming.
The Pasta. In Australia I didn’t eat pasta the entire year before moving to Italy. Italians eat pasta every day. And I mean every day. Mamma mia. You can hardly blame them, it tastes that good here.
The Gelato. There is always at least one good gelato shop in every town. After lunch or dinner (or both) you will see the Italians pile in. Expect long queues in summer. Expect to be lured back, every day.
The Italian House. It’s almost certainly yellow with green shutters (yes just like the movies), housing generations of families, a veggie garden and enough coffee to sink a battleship.
The Siesta. The Italians love the afternoon sleep. This was extremely frustrating when I first arrived. Absolutely nothing is open in the afternoon. A few months later, the siesta took its next casualty and not a peep came from our apartment in the afternoons.
The Tabacchi. This is an interesting place, some of them do scare me. It’s like a corner shop where the old codgers gather for smoko and a good yarn. It serves extra strong coffees, strong spirits and old pastries… sometimes a lost tourist will stray into a Tabacchi and you’ll hear the Italian owner barking something in Italian to the bewildered tourist.
Beach Sessions. In Italy I’ve never seen a sunscreen bottle or an Italian man wearing boardies (they must not have made it to Italy yet?). Italians will only leave their tanning spot for 2 reasons, a gelato break or a strut on the beach. And when they are two shades darker its time for aperitifs.
Dinnertime. If you are heading for a meal out, get ready for a lot of Italian words coming your way. Italians are good at talking and no doubt most can talk the leg off a wooden chair.
The Language. You get woken up to shouting from the street (in your second storey apartment) by friends standing right next to each other simply chatting…only in Italy.
The Fashion. Every young Italian has a couple of pairs of Converses, a puffer jacket, a pair of fashionable ripped jeans, a summer beanie and a wardrobe of American branded tees…its like Swiss clockwork.
The Walk (le passeggiare). Italians love to walk. Where are they going? I’m not really sure. Why do they walk? I’m still figuring this out. When in England you go to the pub, in Italy you walk.
The Nonna’s and Nonno’s. Although they have been cycling the streets for their lifetimes – watch out. They will stop at any moment in the middle of the road to shout to a friend, pat a dog, admire a car and then shout to another friend.
The Food. Food is a passion not a chore. Italians will spend their afternoons on their bicycles going to every different shop…the pasticceria, alimentary, panifico, macelleria, pescheria etc etc. And at every stop expect lots of talking/shouting.
The Supermarket. Why the supermarket? It’s amazing; in any big supermarket there are one or two entire aisles solely dedicated to pasta. Every shape. Every colour. Every region. Like you have never seen before.
The Italian wine. You go to the shops. You are overwhelmed by the numerous good sounding and good looking wines. You glance at the top shelf and the price is too cheap. You glance at bottom shelf and the price is just a blimey bargain. Now you are confused. Very confused. Welcome to buying wine in Italy.
Italian Love? This is it. The people, their passion and warmth. The food, like you have never had before. The old towns, their beauty is indescribable. This place will never leave you…beware. This is Italy.