Other than the obvious things (the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, every amazing painting or Bernini sculpture you can imagine) there were some aspects of life in Italy that Americans don’t get to enjoy on a daily basis. Here were some of my favorite parts.,
1. A leisurely lunchtime
It seemed like every time of the day was lunch time in the city. Men in power suits made their way to the fancier lounges for their lunch break, while some just sat outside of a cafe to people watch. But no matter where people were eating, it was clear that they were not in any rush. Lunch time was a huge priority to the working community. Speaking of food…
2. Food with a sense of humor
“Sexy pasta” (picture the Kraft Spongebob shaped pasta, but shaped like male genitalia instead) was marketed to us everywhere. We went to restaurants, shops, boutiques, carts on the side of the road- all tried to sell us sexy pasta. They had so much fun with it! Just how it should be. (I didn’t buy the sexy pasta, but it was entertaining).
3. Perfect portion sizes
If you go out for Italian food in America, you’re most likely served a “plate” that is actually closer in shape to a bowl, overflowing with about 4 servings too many. And we tend to eat as much as we possibly can. In Italy, I never left anywhere hungry, or feeling like I was going to explode if I took a sharp breath. Leisure + humor + perfect portions = a much healthier relationship with food. Take notes Americans!
4. Ruins, ruins everywhere!
Everywhere you turn, ruins are blooming. In the middle of a modern-day city, in the middle of an abandoned field. The aqueducts, and various other forms from the Holy Roman Empire, remain. This ever present history made everywhere in Italy feel like home to me, a very obvious outsider.
5. A collective community color scheme
The sun setting in Rome is something everyone should see. The pinks and oranges of the stucco building make the sunlight glow, blanketing the entire city in a hazy golden blaze. It’s like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And then swimming in it!
6. Gelato worthy of its own food group
Gelato with Nutella mixed in was just too good to be true. This flavor of gelato was the inspiration for my first and second (brilliant) inventions, which should be incorporated in everyone’s daily life: Breakfast dessert and Lunch dessert.
7. Fountains that you can drink from/ bathe in and not get arrested
I was frightened the first time I saw it, and never actually did it myself because it is still too weird to think about, but I saw a little boy and his mother drinking the water from the fountain by the Spanish Steps. It was crazy! My mom would have washed my mouth out with soap and threw me in my room, quarantined for the week! That’s public water! It’s outside in the open, birds can bathe in it, pee in it, poo in it… who even knows. Oh to have the freedom to drink the beautiful water from the beautiful fountains in beautiful Italy. It’s on my to-do list for my next visit.
8. Corona and… lemon?
Since there were lemon trees lining ALL the streets in Italy, the citrus slice in our Coronas ended up being lemon rather than lime. I thought it was weird at first (and I’m really not a beer drinker anyway) but I liked it better that way! Now if I’m forced to order a beer (college budget), I get it Italian style with a lemon.
9. No genetically modified frankenfoods
This goes for all of Europe but I just loved having a large, authentic Italian food fest knowing that everything was produced organically as mandated by a law made to protect the health of those living under it. I read the ingredients on the coke cans we got: real sugar! Crazy! Americans pay extra for that stuff! (More note taking)?
10. Open air restaurants and markets
Everything was so open in Italy. Even the windows in houses didn’t have screens in them, making the outdoors that much more accessible. People bought their groceries while walking around outside. Restaurants easily opened up to the outside air, without food health and safety monitors worrying about how “unsanitary” it is to let everyone breathe while they eat. So refreshing!
11. Ma and Pa shops
America is the land of corporations. Chain restaurants largely outnumber small individually owned, more personal dining experiences. In Italy that was not the case at all. I don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot into a grocery store in America that was owned by a family. In Italy that was all I could find! Every business, restaurant, store and vineyard I saw was so personal and community oriented that they almost have no choice but to help each other out. As a result, all the food we ate was made from locally farmed produce, all the clothing we bought were locally made out of the threads spun from locally harvested plants and animals, and all the souvenirs we collected were created by local artisans. That means that all the people and animals involved are paid what they deserve and treated with respect.
12. No laws against drinking in public
I understand why that law exists in America (some people don’t know when enough is enough), but bars are definitely not my thing so it was nice to be able to order a drink and head out for a walk around town. Without having to worry about being arrested while still completely coherent.
And now I have to revisit Google to find out how I can gain Italian citizenship…
Until next time!