Tuesday, May 29, 2012

50 Things I Learned In Italy

One thing I really noticed while reflecting on my last few days here is that I truly got accustomed to city life. I know how to dodge pedestrians and have gotten used to waiting forever in traffic due to the millions of cars littering the streets of Rome. I got used to falling asleep to my Sicilian neighbors fighting (or perhaps they really talk like that), people laughing and cheering from the nearby bars, and the occasional roar of a police car. These sounds became my lullaby. 
But I'm not going to be in Rome anymore. I'm going to be home, where the sidewalks aren't packed with thousands of slow walking Romans pretending to be models and giddy tourists who stop in front of ten thousand people to take a photo. And the only time I have to wait on the roads is when ducks are crossing, or at a red light when a boat goes through the canal, lifting one of the three bridges that unites my city from east to west. And sleeping will be a whole new ball game. In Port Colborne, there isn't any noise. 
Power combo.
The only sounds a person can hear in the countryside are crickets and the occasional coyote that howls at night. No cars, no parties, no loud Southern Italian neighbors. Nothing! Maybe I'll have to buy one of those music boxes that only has one setting, like "ocean breeze," "rainstorm," or "wind chime garden." Perhaps they have a "Rome" box, where all it plays is noise.
The other day someone asked me where I prefer living - Italy or Canada. There's pros and cons to both countries, and every time I want to say one, the other immediately throws itself into my memory and causes me to reminisce on how much I love them, too. It's hard to say because they're both so different. The history and art attracts me to Italy, and I love that houses were built in a time where having character mattered. I almost like the weather better too, because I love the heat, but my favourite season is fall, which Rome really
We may not have buildings or history like this in
Canada, but I still love my home and native land.
misses out on. The lifestyles are polar opposites, though. I like that Italians
are more laid back to the point where they take midday naps, have a three hour lunch break with a glass of wine, and so forth. But I also feel that this poses a problem, because Italians are notoriously lazy and have no concept of time whatsoever. 
All in all, I love both countries. But Canada is my home. It's safe, affordable (minus tuition), offers a good education, health care, has a respectable reputation worldwide, has beautiful scenery, is perfect for nature lovers, and just so happens to be where I grew up. We also have an endless supply of maple syrup. I love Canada. I don't think that I ever see myself 
Beautiful Tuscany.
settling down in Italy forever, but it would be nice to go back for another extended period of time. I think it would be great when I'm older to rent a country home in Tuscany for a year or so to focus on writing and spend my days practicing Italian, learning how to be a better cook, riding my bike through the vineyards, and reading every book a person would ever want to read in their lifetime.
The problem with actually immigrating to Italy is that I don't trust the government and that the economy is forever screwed. But what bothers me the most is being so far away from my family. Even though not everyone in my family lives close to Port Colborne, we're still close. We call each other, spend holidays together, and try our best to see each other as often as possible. I want my future children to have the same kind of relationships that I had with my own cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, but growing up halfway across the world would make that extremely difficult.
And let's face it - airline prices are continuing to soar higher than the planes themselves.
In honour of my last week here in Italy, I decided to compile a list of just 50 things I learned while here that are too good to keep to myself. I learned a lot from my time here and will continue to continue learning during the next seven days and beyond, but I thought it would be something for you all to think about. I hope you laugh, agree, and take something from this list. Enjoy!
1. When an Italian grandmother (nonna) asks you if you want more food, the answer is never "no," even if you feel like your stomach is about to burst open. You will a) completely offend the woman and b) she will just put more food on your plate anyway.
2. The most important Italian saying is "mange bene," which literally translates to "eat good." This is said when reminding one to have good table manners, but also to finish everything laid out in front of you.
3. 15 degree temperature is still considered fur coat weather in Italy.
4. Time really does fly when you're having fun.
5. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.
6. When one door closes, another door opens.
7. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
8. Spritz is the best summer drink (with aperol - not Campari!)
9. Canadian men are wonderful. They don't pluck their eyebrows, wear tacky leather pants or harass women on the street. They are casual, polite, and know how to respect women (well, most of them, at least).
10. Canadians don't ride their bikes nearly as much as we should.
11. Although I'm not a fan of Stephen Harper, I'm proud that he's kept our economy relatively strong, hasn't constructed business with the mafia, or been the host of any bunga bunga parties. At least I don't think he has...
12. Don't judge anyone based on what they were like in high school. Chances are, they've changed drastically since then. Haven't you?
13. The best roads to take are the ones untraveled.
14. Never take the night bus. Ever.
15. Bad parenting results in badly behaved children.
16. Walking on the sidewalk does not necessarily mean that you won't be hit by a car.
17. Some people take soccer way too seriously (Lazio fans, you know I'm talking about you).
18. The best pubs in the world are the ones with an Irish flag waving outside.
19. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is the best book in the entire world.
20. Do what makes you happy.
21. The sexiest accent in the entire world belongs to the British.
22. If someone is rude to you, don't strike back. It's not worth your time or energy.
23. You see one's true colours upon dealing with a rainy day, tangled Christmas tree lights, and lost luggage.
24. Stealing fresh figs and lemons from gardens in Tuscany at midnight makes for great memories in the morning.
25. Pick your battles 
26. Overuse "I love you." You never know when it'll be the last time you say it to someone.
27. There is nothing wrong with spending a day in a patch of sunlight reading your favourite book by your favourite fountain in your favourite garden.
28. Don't let fear get in the way of a life experience.
29. Danish people have the biggest hearts in the world.
30. Always trust your intuition. It could save your life.
31. Don't worry about pleasing everyone. When you want to say "no" instead of "yes", do it.
32. Always set the bar higher than you thought you could jump.
33. 99% of people need to use olive oil more regularly.
34. Nutella is what heaven tastes like.
35. There is no turmoil that can't be lightened when eating pizza margarita.
36. Getting mail (you know - in the mailbox) is much better than getting an e-mail.
37. You cannot cross the same river twice.
38. The Catholic religion is even more controversial than one could think.
39. Saying, "It's my birthday!" to bartenders and waiters pays off. It's just a white lie - eventually it will be my birthday.
Looks perfectly fine to me.
40. Food tastes better when you aren't eating it while watching TV.
41. Canada really needs a cheap airline like Ryanair or EasyJet. Entrepreneurs? Anyone? Eh?
42. Amsterdam is the coolest city on the face of the earth.
43. No matter what kind of relationship you have with your parents, you'll miss them when you move out.
44. It's never a good idea to marry for money. Maybe this one is obvious, but I was smacked in the face with this reality on several occasions in Italy.
45. Rooftops are a perfectly comfortable place to sleep.
46. Keep your money in your front pockets.
47. Never underestimate the level of coolness in an Irish priest.
48. Always, always, always be yourself. You can't please everyone, so you might as well just do what you want in life.
49. Never trust a man in leather pants, unless his name is Ricky Martin.
50. In Rome, do as the Romans do.
51. (One more, just for good luck): Home is where the heart is.


  1. I absolutely love lists, no matter what the subject, and you tend to write a lot of them. I am very tempted to go through your blog and print them all out.
    They make me laugh, they make me tear up. They are very insightful. :)

    1. Oh my God, that is such a nice compliment! Thanks Katie! I'll keep that in mind for future reference :)

  2. I love all of the ancient history in Italy!I am just absolutely fascinated by Rome Italy tours. I cannot WAIT to go there one day!

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