Tomorrow is my one-year anniversary of moving to Rome! A year ago, I decided to leave the US for Italy and haven't looked back since. While I've learned a lot since moving here, including more Italian than 4 years of classes gave me, I've mostly been lucky to spend more time understanding the Italian culture and people much better. After living with my boyfriend's family for 6 months and working with Italians on a daily basis in my teaching job, there are a few tidbits that I've picked up. Here are 12 random facts about Italians, from an ex-pat's perspective. Full disclosure, a lot of them relate to food ;)
- Fruit must be peeled
End of story.
- Peanut butter is disgusting
This was a hard one for me to get my head around. In Italy, peanut butter is almost universally despised. My boyfriend won't kiss me after I've eaten in because the taste alledgedly lingers for hours and when you can find it in stores, it's usually €6. When I brought in American candy to some of my English classes (winning best teacher award), Reese's was the one type almost all the children didn't like and I had a couple who even had to spit out their peanut butter cup in the trash.
- Italy is full of single ladies
The average age to get married is much later, more like early 30s while women rarely have children before 35. In general, the dating phase of Italian relationships tends to last longer. People will have a boyfriend/girlfriend for ten years before the pressure to get married starts.
- Public transportation is for peasants (specifically regarding men)
Why take a bus or metro when you can drive? It's always worth paying for gas and then driving around for up to an hour (!) to find a (semi) legal parking spot.
- Kissing is polite
Hugging is weird and reserved for very close relationships. Far more common is the double kiss, which you can use with friends, family, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers.
- Lanes on the road are merely guidelines and are usually ignored by the population of Rome
2 lane roads can fit up to 5 cars side by side in a traffic jams, yellow means go, red means proceed with caution, and the middle of the road qualifies as a valid parking spot.
- 24/7 locations for supermarkets, restaurants and shops are rare, and people like it like that
While sometimes it's frustrating to have to wait, the majority agree that lunch, getting home to your family at night, and taking most of August off is how life is meant to be lived
- Graph paper is used more in notebooks than lined.
It was a STRUGGLE to find my college-lined 3- subject notebook when I studied here
- The Godfather is more realistic than you know
The mafia does exist in Italy and has its hand in many businesses, specifically in the southern half. While on a day to day basis most people aren't effected, the mafia influences the government and other institutions on a national level.
- Why pay if you can find another option?
Italians will always try to haggle down a price, get something for free, or find a friend who can do it for them.
- Air conditioning is the devil.
It will make you sick immediately and if you come down with a cold, the AC or cold air outside is more to blame than germs. Sidenote: wet hair will also kill you, if not blow-dried immediately.
- Conversely, salmonella is not a thing.
Leftovers can be left out of the fridge until eaten and eggs don't have to be refrigerated
Obviously some of these are a little exaggerated, but it really is so interesting to live in another culture that opposes things that you've taken for granted your entire life. I've gotten into more than my fair share of fights defending what I think are FACTS, but that someone else disagrees with. Have you ever experienced something so crazy in a different culture? Share it below!