Sunday, June 18, 2017

Things I Have Learned in Six Months in Italy

Hard to believe that it is already six months that I have been away from Israel and living in Italy.  So far, it has been very educational.  I thought I would share some of what I have learned so far.
Please note – this is relevant for the north of Italy, the area of Emilia Romagna. I have been informed that things are very different from one part of Italy to another…
1.  People here do not walk down the street with cell phones stuck to their ears.  People here walk down the street paying attention to what is happening around them, they stop to talk to one another and pass the time of day, they are not in a hurry, they smile and say hello.
2.  If you stop your car to ask directions, they are happy to help.  We have never had anyone refuse to take the time to explain.  Not only will they give detailed directions, but they may at the same time tell us their life history and where they live and invite us to visit.
3.  Italians do not live on pasta and pizza.  In fact, they don't eat a lot of pasta, the average menu here is very healthy, with lots of vegetables and fruits, and plenty of variety of proteins.  And it is all unquestionably tasty!  I have been eating very well, but without any weight gain.
4.  It is unusual to see fat Italians.  Most people are in quite good shape.  It is rare to see fat children.
5.  Spaghetti and meatballs is definitely not Italian, Italians laugh at the idea.  As well as at a variety of other dishes that are considered by foreigners to be Italian food.
6.  People don’t go to the supermarket and shop for the week.  They go every day to the shops and buy things fresh.  There is a great choice of wonderful fresh produce.
7.  People are kind and polite.  Even public officials smile to greet you and do their best to be helpful.  They may also carry on a conversation about themselves, their lives, politics, or any other subject and are genuinely interested in what you have to say.  Things are in general run very efficiently here, there are no long lines or interminable waiting for service.  Even in the supermarket, when the line gets longer than a few people, a new checkout line is opened.
8.  There is little traffic in this part of Italy, and traffic jams are rare.  Drivers are courteous and ready to yield the right of way.  Sometimes we may meet someone who drives like an Israeli, but it is rare.
9.  Every bathroom has a bidet.
10.  Houses here (in particular in villages) are painted in a wide variety of bright colors, red, pink, yellow, orange, in various shades, even a few green or pistachio ones.  But no blue…I wonder why…I was told that the colors are  because it is often very gray and foggy here in winter, and people like to see something bright.
11.  The scenery is spectacular, no matter what season.
12.  Italians are fond of dogs, dogs can be taken almost anywhere, including into restaurants and supermarkets.  In Italy the law says that dogs are allowed to bark, it is natural for them.  There are also very strict animal protection laws.
Life is very calm here in general, much more so than in Israel.  Not easy, but certainly 

There will always be some people in a population that are not typical, and to our sorrow, we ended up at the mercy of a few of those…More later…


  1. A lot of the Italian values you wrote of having experienced throughout the north of Italy are what was instilled in me as a child. Both my dads parents were born there, my Nonna was from South Benedetta, my Nonno was from the north. I was very attached to my Nonna and Nonno and believe I am the person I am today b/c of a strong sense of respect, importance of tradition and culture, and emphasis on engagement that I was fortunate to experience. Thanks for sharing your insights, as always, looking forward to the next installment.

  2. Interesting observations. I am curious (and sorry) to hear what happened to necessitate another move.