Naturally, living in Italy being surrounded with delicious edible things all the time I’ve acquired some new food and drink related habits, as mentioned in my previous post (which needs to be updated by the way). But apart from that I think there are some other random habits easily picked up once you become a local here…
- Getting up at or after 9am in the morning. Mostly things are super slow in Italy. Obviously it depends on where you go in the country as every region differs quite drastically, but generally (from what I’ve personally experienced) this is the slow life. And in anyway why do we need to rush our mornings? We’re not birds are we? So why do we want to catch any worms? Needless to say, this is one habit I have embraced with ease.
- Using certain words a ridiculous amount of times in one day. For example using ‘ciao’ (hello and bye – two in one! #winning); ‘va bene’ (okay); ‘allora’ (so); and ‘bella!’ (beautiful) as many times in a conversation as you can, will make you sound kinda local.
- Using hand gestures. Italians cannot speak without using their hands and if you want to be understood better or clearer, you get used to using hand gestures quickly.
- Driving like a maniac. I always thought that driving in South Africa or Bangkok was putting your life on the line until I experienced Italian driving. Oh. My. Word. The fact of the matter is, if you want to survive, you’d better adapt your driving skills. I think the rule goes something like this: ‘You watch your front, let everyone else watch your back’. You can actually feel quite safe if you’re in the car with an Italian behind the wheel as they’re actually very good drivers. It’s when you’re driving with someone who’s not from here that you need to make sure you’re buckled up and saying some prayers.
- Ignoring noise and yelling. Italians are loud, so if you live here you quickly learn not to think that there’s a fight going on at every street corner but that it’s, in fact, just some amico sharing a fab story of what happened on the weekend.
- Smoking. Not a habit I picked up though but it seems EVERYONE here smokes. From 10-year-olds to 100-year-olds. Why?! Sies.
- Riding a bicycle. This is such a nice habit and alternative to using a car or public transport in summer. I am still a bit nervous sometimes of them cars and them crazy drivers…
- Using public transport. If it’s too cold for a bike, or if you don’t have a bike. Even though the public transport in Italy is nothing to write home about, it works and it’s fairly clean and easy to use. Without thinking or moaning about it too much, before you know it you calculate enough time to walk to the bus station, catch the bus, walk to the train station, catch the train and arrive at whichever destination or appointment on time. If there’s no strikes that is…
- Earphones. Walking around, riding the train, bus or tram with your earphones in your ears. I find it pretty antisocial, but if you want to blend in and look like a local, better whip those earphones out even if you have no music to listen to. No one will know ;)
- Kisses kisses kisses. Italians truly are affectionate and soon you not only forget that you ever had something called personal space but you also adapt quickly to doing the cheek-kiss-thing (Tip: in most cases, if you turn your right cheek first you avoid the awkward ‘going to the wrong side almost kissing on the lips’ scenario).
Pretty sure this list will also continue to grow… Once again, thoughts and comments welcome! What habits have you picked up while living abroad?