9 Things Italians Do Best

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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Kissing

In Italy, there’s a whole lotta smooching going on. On streets, on bridges, on buses … at beaches. Kissing in Italy is an anytime/anywhere scenario.

If, currently, PDA’s (public displays of affection) wig you out, then traveling Italy will likely inspire a change in perspective. Italians know best: no matter what the economy, kissing is free, is fun, and you can even start today. P.S. Practice makes perfect.

Dressing

Have you ever gone to the store in Crocs, sweatpants or pajamas? Likely you have. But spending time in Italy has taught me something epic: you CAN ride a bike in a pretty dress and very high heels. If you’re a gent you CAN ride a bike in a light blue suit with white loafers. It looks and feels … beautiful.

Talking

Obviously texting is big in Italy (Europeans adopted cellphones first), but my Italian friends make way more phone calls than we do. They actually dial a number and talk on the phone to make plans.

Reality Checking

Italians have no shame in commenting on your physical appearance, even when the verdict is negative. They will outright say, “You’re so much fatter since I last saw you.” Or, “What have you been eating: Bignè allo zabaione for dinner?”

I first mistook this frankness for lack of tact. But I now appreciate it for a say-it-like-it-is-certainty.

Complimenting

Same as above. Your physical appearance is always noticed. Sei (favolosa/ stupenda/ magnifica/ bellissima). You’ll hear, “You’re so pretty.” “Your hair is wonderful.” “Your dress is beautiful.” “What a nice figure/purse/home.” It’s polite. It’s also expected!

Drinking

Italians drink moderately (constantly but moderately). They also don’t drink on an empty stomach, which is why there’s always snacks served for aperitivo. You also won’t see uproarious public drunkenness in the evenings. Singing? Yes, you might see some of that.

Swearing

Swearing is an art. The variations are astounding. As in French, the word, “God” (and related religious subjects) are noted with staccato bursting intensity, even for seemingly innocuous happenings. This Italian news anchor will show you how it’s done (warning: hilarious).

Driving

Everyone loves to complain about Italian drivers, but Italians are incredible drivers (true — plenty of a-holes too). Driving in Italy is adrenaline spiking, which means drivers pay attention and react with cat-like reflexes (so they don’t die). Aggressive driving is … just driving. Italians also have mad skills with a) parking in a spot the size of a teacup b) smoking, talking on a flip-phone and driving. c) smoking, talking on a flip-phone, yelling at other drivers and driving.

Saving money

On electricity: Italians hang their laundry to dry (just bring it inside if it’s cold or raining). In winter, the general rule is to dress warmly indoors so you won’t have to crank the heat.

On credit: It’s not easy getting credit in Italy; so many folks have never bothered. Which means spending is kept to what’s in the bank account. My Italian husband didn’t even own an ATM card until we met. Imagine what you’d spend only withdrawing cash during teller hours, and not having a credit card?

On Housing: Never mind the “boomerang generation” (the 30 years old children who move back home). How about the never-leaving-in-the-first-place generation? Italy’s 20-30-year-olds are living at home, for free. When you think about it: having your underwear ironed, your meals prepared, and your cheek kissed daily sounds awesome. When Italian kiddies eventually move out it’s highly likely they will be a) living in an inherited apartment once owned by aunt Rosa b) living on their parent’s land. c) living in digs financed by their parents.

On childcare: According to stats, there are 7 million grandparents in Italy. Of those, 6 million are caring, in one way or another, for their grandchildren. If you’re a grandparent in Italy, it’s absolutely expected you look after the wee grasshoppers. Gather at any piazza in the early evening, and you’ll see more grandparents than parents with the kids.

madonna25

Your turn! Add a comment below. When you traveled to Italy what was the ONE difference that stood out the most?

(Yes, this is vintage Madonna, and yes, I did love her when I was a wee grasshopper.)

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Sylvia Garcia
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Sylvia Garcia

Thank you Bianca! I was being called crazy for thinking like an Italian in the US. I laughed and joyed out loud from reading your “Things Italians do best”. You’re the best!!! I’m so jealous of your lifestyle. Again, if you ever need an employee, I’M THE ONE!!! I lived… Read more »

Ed Parma
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Ed Parma

Ciao Bianca! we love Italy we try to go once a year for 3 weeks or so. This Sept we went to Rome (our base) Ravello, Positano, Amalfi, Salerno then up to Spoleto (loved it ) then Florence and back to bella Roma. Every trip is an education- however the… Read more »

Karen
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That string thingy on the wall in bathrooms! I don’t have a clear explanation. Is it really there to sound an alarm? And this: the fact that Italians really do live to eat, rather than the other way around. It seems it’s how life was meant to be lived. Is… Read more »

Laurie
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Laurie

ALL of this is SO true! I was in Italy for a month in September 2014. My first time. I can’t wait to go back, but a bit differently, next time: more time spent at fewer places, Spring, NOT the hot time, more shopping… a carry on, period. I brought… Read more »

Cathy Massey
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Cathy Massey

We will be in CT for 2 nights. We have booked Luna Di Marzen in Volastra. We are driving a car and this place had parking. I am interested in eating at Trattoria la Grotta the second night. How is the place and food and how do we get back… Read more »

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