As my precious time in Italy has ended, I wanted to compile a list of what I will and won’t miss about living in the most incredible country in the world…
What I’ll Miss:
- SECURITY: I have not sensed one ounce of insecurity on anyone; men cross their legs and hug each other, women dress stylishly yet comfortably, and everyone seems to eat and drink what they want (though in much smaller portions!).
- SELF-EXPRESSION: Similarly, Italians are edgy! They’re not afraid to express themselves and don’t seem to worry about being judged. They rock crazy hairstyles, outfits, etc. – I give them a lot of credit!
- PERSONAL SPACE: There is no such thing as personal space in Italy. Not only do people stand extremely close to each other, but it is also socially acceptable to stare. If someone looks at you too long in the US, it’s seen as confrontational (or, at minimum, creepy). I don’t get “skeeved” easily and I’m a fan of strong eye contact, so I’ll honestly miss these!
- CLASS: Italians and Europeans in general are open, yet classy. Neither sex nor nudity is shameful, and they’re typically presented very tastefully. Exception: male speedos on the beach.. nothing tasteful about them. 😐
- AFFECTION: Whether you’re an acquaintance, close friend, family member, or lover, you will be greeted with affection in Italy. Even men are affectionate with each other!
- RELAXING: Italians relax. All stores close for a few hours in the afternoon, as workers are entitled to a real I can’t tell you how many times I walked a mile to the grocery store just to find it closed! That aside, Italians get way more vacation time a year than we do. Actually, European law mandates that every country offer at least four weeks of paid vacation. Italians work hard, but they take time to rest, reflect, and regroup, as well.. usually in the most incredible spots.
- Note: they even take a break at the movies.
- PASSION: Italians are passionate in everything the do – in how they talk, how they love, how they fight, and how the feel in general. It’s so inspiring.
- DRIVING: As I’ve written about before, Italians are psychotic on the road. I love it because I’m crazy, too (sorry Dad!), but most of my friends who visited hated it! They drive fast, tailgate hard, never use blinkers, and will pass you in risky situations – like, while scaling a mountain on the Amalfi coast with oncoming traffic quickly approaching risky. It’s absolutely thrilling B-)
- CARE: Italians truly take care of each other: the sick, the elderly, the disabled.. and they respect each other. As far as I’ve seen, there’s no stigma on mental health in Italy like there is in the US – not even close!
- SOCIALIZATION: Italians socialize and enjoy each other’s company, face-to-face and leisurely. They don’t take their coffee to go – they drink it at the bar. They seldom rush – even the trains take their time! They know there is more to life than working and running. The only time I’ve felt a sense of urgency in Italy was in the left lane on A13.
- MARKETS: Italians shop at markets where you can find nearly anything you need. At least in the north, each town has its own market usually one morning per week. VV’s is on Monday and spans over several blocks, featuring clothes, food, accessories, décor, household appliances, and even smaller furniture.. and it’s all cheap! I will miss those markets like crazy.
- RECYCLING: It seems as though recycling is HUGE in most of Italy, or at least up north. There are separate bins for paper, plastic, glass, regular garbage, etc. EVERYWHERE. They are hardcore recyclers!
- POSING: Has anyone ever noticed that Italians don’t smile in pictures? At least not with their teeth. After some inquiring, I learned the consensus is that people look like bunnies when they smile with their teeth. I’ve yet to master the Italian photo pose, but practicing it continues to crack me up.
- FOOD: I think it goes without saying that I’ll miss the food in Italy, but not only because of how delicious it is. I’ve eaten more here than I ever have at home, but my body is probably in the best shape it’s ever been (even better than when I was in my prime at a youthful 19). All 20 regions of Italy are against the cultivation of GMOs; the country is fiercely concerned with the quality of its products, and it shows. I’m eating a ton, but eating well and healthy. It also helps that Italians walk/cycle everywhere, and elevators are few and far between. Endless stairs, my butt thanks you. :-*
What I Won’t Miss:
- LAUNDRY: I will not miss doing laundry in Italy even a little bit. Washing machines have literally 30 different settings on average, and dryers don’t exist. My balcony is covered and gets a limited amount of sun exposure, plus I live in a valley between the Dolomites so there’s always rain and humidity. My clothes, therefore, take days to dry; once the ~3 hour wash cycle is complete, I hang them outside and pray for good weather.
- BUGS: Italians don’t put screens on their windows, so there are no bug barriers. This country is a jungle. When I first moved into my apartment, there were flies and spiders everywhere and I even had a lizard roommate. I put so much pesticide in this studio that I should be dead. However, I do admire how carefree Italians are when it comes to bugs; everyone just coexists.. I’ll be having a conversation with my landlord on our balcony and be cringing as gnats are swarming and she won’t even flinch. What are we so worried about, anyway?! (JK bugs, I’m still scared so please don’t follow me home)
- POST OFFICE: I’ve read horror stories about the Italian postal system, and they’re all f’ing true. First of all, as much as I’ve praised the Italians for not rushing, I’m all about tracking my packages online and impatiently awaiting their arrival. Tracking is unreliable and packages are not delivered if you aren’t home when carriers arrive. To pick them up, you have to go to the post office, pick a number (like when you’re at a deli), and wait to be called. Italians apparently take off work when they need to go to the post office because that’s how long the process takes. My first experience ended in being told I had to return the next day after waiting nearly two hours because my package was “special.” It was a book. 😐