Thursday, May 08, 2008

Italy the good the bad and the plain old ugly

It seems every now and then those of us who have chosen to live and work in Italy, come up against another fledgling who has fallen out of their tree.
Italy can do this to you, sometimes on a daily basis. I purposefully exclude those who were able to come to Italy, buy a villa in Tuscany, tinker with growing vines and olives and then flit back home every now and then to keep a foot in the door in the old country. I am bold enough to say "If you don't work for someone else in Italy and ride trains you don't really know Italy".
For you its paradise, villa owners, no one will chase you for tax payments in Italy or expect you to wait in line at a state hospital to see a specialist, so you can spend a little of the the 42% tax you pay to the government. You will never know what it feels like to wonder if you can fill your own teeth, with that metal resin stuff that bonds in seconds, because you can't afford to go to the dentist( believe me I've considered this).
So what about those of us who work at those lowly paid jobs in Italy, us graduates who somehow found ourselves hawking our madre linqua as our means of income, what of us, what is Italy like for us?
A love-hate relationship, an addiction?
My last post was about being a tourist again for a day. Try it, it may work for you.
But generally, as your stumble back home from the sweaty train where you couldn't get a seat and switch on the news while you cook the pasta, only to hear the same old, same old Belusconi or calcio, ( the content of 99,9999% of T.V.), droning on, you wonder what the .... am I doing here.

I can give you a, list of the good now.
Gelato (nothing like it)
Being pregnant (everyone will treat you like the virgin Mary).
I'm too scared to ride on a train after a big lunch for fear of a man insisting I take his seat because I'm pregnant. I wanted to shout "I'm not bloody pregnant Ok!". but I took the seat in silence, all grateful and coy.
Being chased by Italian men (whatever your age)
Italian mamas. they iron his shirts so well, you'll never be able to compete, so why try?
Homemade tiramisu and pannacotta!
Almost all the food you'll find in any small hilltown in Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, or where-ever.
The art, free art! that's why I came and that's why I stay.


Anonymous said...

brings back memories, the good ones. Im back in the states.

Anonymous said...

Ciao I've just read your last issue, really interesting, a non conventional way to see italian life by the eyes of foreign woman.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read about my old country , good memories, I'm back in the states now, good blog.

Anonymous said...

Always astute and endearing your observations....
I'm taking driving lessons now, which is a whole story in itself.
I'll take the exam in English (bad Brit translation) and the nice little girl at the driving school suggested I attend the 'foreigner' classes, where, no, they don't give the lessons in English, or Arabic, but they speak Italian 'really slowly'....
The prof keeps mentioning that here in Italy we drive on the right.

Expat in Italy said...

I laughed out loud Emily, because I happen to know you speak Italian like a local!. Perhaps you could do a guest post here about your driving lessons. That will be a hoot! D

Anonymous said...

It's always good to read from someone who appreciate Italian wine and food. Particularly Super Tuscan wines. I left Tuscany few years ago and reading this blog brings me to great memories.

Anonymous said...

I truly enjoy reading your blog - it gives me some idea of what it would be like to live there as an expat. Andrea just refuses to consider living in Italy. Says he wouldn't be different there... although I believe he would be different anywhere. He was born in a small village called Castelpoggio, in the mountains above Carrara. When he was about 6 the family moved to Alessandria. So, Tuscan by birth and Piedmontese by upbringing. He left Italy when he was about 23.

I was born in Houston - so ironic that I am back here now. Raised in Congo/Zaire, and have lived in Burundi, Switzerland, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kansas, and Texas. Italy was a revelation and a complete surprise to me. As a child I was always very interested in Imperial Rome and also the Etruscans. Modern Italy was a mystery. When I met Andrea, there was so much I didn't know.

At age 47 I found myself trying to learn a new language. My childhood French gets all tangled up with the Italian and none of it comes out right when he is around. I'm a little better when alone but usually I just look like a stunned deer when someone talks to me. I did take lessons for a little while but my work schedule has lots of travel, and school just didn't work out. Now I try to do my Rosetta Stone lessons and yes they do help a bit. My goal is to be able to speak with Andrea's sisters and their children, who speak no English at all, and to be able to understand something of his Italian soul. They have been charming and gracious to me, the second wife.

Sorry to run on so. I guess I am happy to find someone who understands a little of what my life is like. thanks again. Amy

Kataroma said...

Hi - thanks so much for your nice comment on my blog and for the link to our B&B in Rome! :)

I completely agree with you - you don't really 'know' Italy til you've:

a) been to see a specialist under the public Italian health system (ASL);
b) lived on an Italian (read pathetic) salary for a year or more including paying rent; and
c) been on a traditional Italian beach holiday in August somewhere like Ostia, Riccione or Rimini. :)

Italy expat said...

I agree but for so many Italy is wrapped up in an romantic dream, and I still sometimes feel that romance after 6 years here.

Anonymous said...

Hi, your summer afternoon pictures reminds me when I was just a little boy in Piemonte: my mum had a small balcony like that one and she was very proud of her flowers. It's a great image of the tipical Italian village house. Wonderful shot!

Anonymous said...

Interesting and enticing.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wow Mands! An awesome blog! Makes me wanna be there.

Lanaya said...

People should read this.

Como the beautiful

Como the beautiful
walk near the lake

Hidden Italy, the places we visit regularly from Tuscany to the lake district above Como.

When I became a resident in Italy in 2001, I already knew how visitors liked to praise her places, food and art.
I had visited many times as a visitor myself, and been enchanted.
This site is rather designed to show the hidden Italy, the real Italy experienced by it's residents.
The events of the year, from registering as a resident, to celebrating Christmas, Easter and many other festivals, buying a house, working, banking, and still enjoying its beauty, are to be found here.

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expresso machine

expresso machine
close up

click on picture to glimpse Roses lime

my mother

my mother
my mother's pizza tuscany




My favourite writings on Italy

  • Italian Education/Cara Massimina Tim Parks
  • Where angles fear to tread E.M. Forster ISBN0140180885
  • A small place in Italy ISBN0330338188
  • D.H.Lawrence and Italy ISBN 0140095209
  • The Italians by Luigi Barzini Touchstone books ISBN 068482500