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The Italian: A Horses Head in my Bed #1

When I had returned from traveling, my flat was rented to tenants so I had to wait for their contract to end before I could move back in.

In the meantime, I was renting a room in a house, where I met the Italian who was visiting someone, that belonged to a friend. After a series of ‘you can’t do that’ and ‘you can’t do this’ arguments with the “managers” of the house, I decided to leave.

I moved into a shirt let studio flat about three months after starting my thing with the Italian and finally, adored what was going to be my own space. Wrong.

Obviously having our freedom at last was a great thing fit me and the Italian but after about a week, I realised that he hadn’t been home. Piles of his clothes had started to congregate in corners and he had accumulated more toiletries in the bathroom than me! I started to get cold feet.

Only a few months previous I had been downing cocktails in posh Sydney bars, kayaking in Laos and eating BBQ’d crickets in Cambodia. Now, here I was cohabiting with an Italian man, living in a bedsit and thinking ‘wooah, this isn’t what I signed up for!”.

The Italian did all the right things; called when he said would, always turned up on time, cooked me amazing dinners. It just wasn’t working for me.

I tried to approach the subject but I took the cowards way out and just started either being nasty to him or just ignoring him altogether. That’s what guys do, right? Turn on the Marty do that you get annoyed and end up calling it off.

One day, I woke up to the Italians main laying on the pillow next to me and everything started to close in. Breathe, breathe I told myself. Take one deep breathe, get up, get washed and leave.

I went to work that day with the decision made: OVER.  It was over.

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in London

 

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The Italian: Meeting the Family

Not long after the Italian and me became ‘official’, he suggested we go to Italy for a mini break.

It would have been a mini break if we had gone to Rome or Florence but he intended on parading me around his family and friends in his home town. The idea of this filled me with dread. I had visions of American Italian sitcom mothers squeezing my cheeks and wiping tomato sauce off my chin with the thumb they had just spat on!

Great. We were going to meet “The Family”. The Italian had told me repeatedly how amazing they were and how, of course, they would all love and welcome with me open arms. There was one issue.

I didn’t much like Italians. You may think this is odd as I was dating one but I suppose I had been led astray by my own ignorance. I had only ever had run-ins with Italian people before I met my Italian. I thought they were rude, arrogant and way too loud to be of any interest. I wasn’t concerned one iota if his parents were going to like me. I was concerned whether I was going to like them!

This preconception wasnt helped by the fact his mother was just down right rude to me within the first hour of us arriving. The Italian had warned me that his parents had only ever liked one of his ex-girlfriends and she too was English. Apparently she had had good parentage so I had a lot to live up to. He suggested I call them Signore and Signora until they advised otherwise.

So there I was being all polite, watching my P’s and Q’s when his mother, who had been jibber jabbering at me in Italian for the past twenty minutes, took out a pencil and paper.

“She’a used’a be’a an artist’a” the Italian offered in support of his mothers actions. He had assumed that she was about to draw me a picture.

She did. Not too dissimilar to the one below. I quickly realised that for the past half hour, the Italian’s mother had been trying to explain to me that she didn’t like my hair style. As I had been obviously nodding and saying Si in all the wrong places, she had taken to her art skills as a last resort to explain her conundrum.

As she muttered on whilst her pencil carried out stroke after stroke across the paper, a face was formed. Then, another face was formed. In the first one she lightly scribbled in a fringe and then placed a tick next to the face. Pointing at the second face, she left the forehead blank, extended it upwards and drew a huge cross next to it.

With that, the Italian burst into creases of laughter and told me that his mother had been trying to tell me that due to my massive forehead I should consider getting a fringe to disguise it!!

That was it, my preconceptions of the Italian nation were confirmed: RUDE!

Disclaimer: these opinions were my own. I grew to love my mother in law dearly and although it has has taken me five years, I have warmed to the quirks and nuances that is Italian culture. Follow my posts in the near future to find out how I adapted (learned to turn a blind eye) to the craziness that makes Italy such a wonderful place.
Ps, I did eventually get a fringe. It looked hideous!

Do you have a foreign mother-in-law? Have you had any lost-in-translation moments that have ended up in giggles? The misunderstandings are sometimes half the fun!

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in London

 

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The Italian Job

 

Italians only work for nine months of the year. Discuss.

I often have to endure relentless whining and moaning from the Italian about how cold and wet it is in England and how hot and dry it is in Italy.

My response every time is “go back to Italy if you don’t like it here!”.

Obviously we have spoken about a potential, permanent move to il bel Paese (The Beautiful Country) as Italians like to call their homeland. However, there are no jobs. This whole business about the state of Italy’s economy and it’s involvement in the collapse of the euro zone only proves that jobs are scarce and general living, as in most European countries, is hard and expensive.

Yet, when I read an article in The Telegraph recently, my head spun and I suddenly pictured myself with my little famiglia, on the beach, for three months of the year. How so you may ponder?

Well, according to a junior economy minster, Gianfranco Polillo, the average Italian only works for nine months of the year while pretty much the whole of Italy religiously takes off the month of August. This is as well as, for the luckier and richer Italians, “Una Settimana Bianca” (White Week) when they down tools to go skiing. Meanwhile, we Brits have to make do with a few measly rainy grey bank holidays! Where’s the justice?

I must mention though that this study was carried out amongst factory workers only. Not that I’m knocking it because these days a job is a job no matter where you live but if I worked in a factory I would want three months off too! Not least, if I worked in a factory and lived in a country full of gorgeous golden beaches, bright blue sea, amazing food and constant summer sunshine without a hint of grey, I would absolutely want three months off! Why the heck not.

While the economic climate, like most of us, has forced Italians to spend less and not travel abroad, the incentive to work more just isn’t there. Polillo claims that the nation has “become accustomed to leisure” and suggests that if the nation gives up just one week of holiday per year, GDP could be boosted by one percent.

I can see the factory workers all rushing to hand over their sun loungers now!

In the region of Friuli Giuliani Venezia, where the Italian is from, factories are plentiful. Yes its near Venice, yes there are vineyards and mountains and all things pretty but there is another side. Rows and rows of industrial , streets show casing its factory made wares. There is Electrolux that makes AEG, Zanussi and Indesit fridges, washing machines and tumble driers. There is Ideal Standard that make toilet systens and basins and there is Jacuzzi that make, well, jacuzzi’s.

Could you stand making washing machines or toilet parts for nine months of the year if it meant you could relax and sunbathe for the other three months? I’m actually not that sure that I could. Would I be totally brain-dead from boredom? Having worked at Electrolux himself in his younger days, the Italian tells me that the factory jobs are quite well paid and he isn’t surprised that people can afford to take so much time off but I just don’t see us assembling the latest 8kg machine drum for a living.

Perhaps I have to wait for Signore Polillo to carry out a study on more professional jobs that will allow me three months on the beach and a week of skiing! Then, and only then, will the Italian consider moving to Il Bel Paese.

X-O-X

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in London

 

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A Few Things About Italy..

I suppose I should write a sort of intro to who I am, how I met my husband and what this “Italy” thing is all about.  I suppose I should.  Someday.

I have been to some wonderful far away destinations in my life and I can tell you, whole heartedly, that Italy was never on my top list of places to go – this in itself may be a shock to some but I’ve always been more interested in the more rare countries.  Italy is on the doorstep, right? Plenty of time to go there.  When I met my husband I was kind of forced to go and forced to like it.

I remember the first time he took me to Venice and got really really mad because I was like.. “ooh, yeah, its nice”.  I met my husband the week after I had got back from travelling so I had been spoilt on Machu Pichu, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Ankor Wat.  Venice to me was a river after that.  He just didn’t get the anti-climax.

It’s been a journey this whole ‘liking Italy’ thing but I can say that I’m almost there.  I kind of miss it when I haven’t been there for a while. I’m starting to appreciate how tasty fresh vine tomatoes are and I can even tell the difference between a good and a bad olive oil.

There have, however, been a few things that I just find a bit odd about Italy and Italian people in general.  Let me tell you a few things that I have discovered:

They eat hotdogs and chips as a pizza topping

They eat ice cream in the winter

They never ever ever eat an apple with the peel on! No no no…

The eat salad at the end of a meal (this is supposed to aid digestion and they actually believe that!)

When you go for dinner at someone’s house, they serve it on plastic throwaway plates (I’m not sure if this is to save on the washing up given any dinner is made up of at least 10 courses!)

Men do actually wear pastel coloured trousers and socks

Everyone wears sunglasses no matter what the weather

All women use Femiwash, not normal shower gel, it HAS to be PH balanced (bothered?)

They actually use a bidet on a daily basis, for bum washing, not for soaking swimwear

They would rather sweat to death than use the aircon as they are terrified of catching a cold

No wonder Italy is a country known for its relics, they keep everything and don’t replace anything (My mother-in-law tried to pass down my husband’s baby clothes for my daughter..he’s 40, he’s male.. how does that even work?  It does in Italy, waste not want not!)

Everyone dresses the same: same fairy hooded puffa coats, same faux patent leather wedge trainers, same same same…

And last and most weird of all, they are totally obsessed with Hello Kitty!

I’m sure some of these are complete generalisations and may only affect those Italians that I’ve met, seen, known etc.  But seriously, hotdogs and chips on a pizza??! Weird!

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Italia

 

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