I asked Mrs Sensible if I could pass for an Italian, not a chance she said, you don’t dress like an Italian, you don’t think like an Italian and even the Italian words you know, sound funny when you use them. To prove her wrong I have put together the following test.
I know I could pass for an Italian when it comes to driving and parking. Driving on the wrong side of the road comes completely natural to me. In fact I have even managed to drive around the roundabout the wrong way; I would have got away with the mistake had Mrs S not been in the car at the time and decided to have a screaming fit. She made me do a three-point turn on the roundabout and go the correct way. The roundabout mistake has faded from my memory, Mrs S on the other hand still has the occasional nightmare.
I can also abandon park a car just as competently as any Italian, I no longer feel any guilt if I park a car on a zebra crossing, pavement or block some poor souls exit.
Pecora’s rating 10
Only an Italian can turn up to a business meeting wearing, a pair of jeans, sunglasses, and a jacket with a scarf wrapped around his neck and of course a man bag slung across his shoulder. The Germans and the English will wear business suits; however the Italian will always look smarter. I asked Mrs S how the Italians manage to look so smart in jeans. She said “the jeans they are wearing probably cost more than your suit, shirt, tie and shoes put together.” Boh!
I love my flip-flops, from April till October I keep a spare pair in the car, so that I can put them on after Mrs Sensible has checked that I am leaving the house suitable dressed, so I score very badly.
Pecora’s rating -5
Helping in the home
I would like to get a -10 rating for helping in the home, unfortunately Mrs S is very English in this respect and I am expected to help out in the house. Italians however, are trained from an early age that mamma will fetch, clean and carry for them. When I pick up Mrs S from her school, I am always amazed to watch children run down the street while their mamma or nonna struggle behind, carrying heavy school bags and possibly even the bicycle they brought with them in case young Mario wanted to cycle home.
To put this in perspective, on a visit to Sicily I went into the kitchen to help Mrs S wash the dishes. All of a sudden a huge argument erupted in the lounge, I asked Mrs Sensible what all the fuss was about, with a smile on her face she said “I will tell you later, just keep drying the plates” I later found out that my brother in-laws were getting shouted at by their respective Sicilian wives, because they don’t do anything in their houses. Much to the delight of Mrs S
Wiki help file on how to get your husband to help around the house LINK
Pecora’s rating a dismal minus 10
I have “grande culo*” when it comes to playing scopa, scopone or even briscola*. I win, not because I am skilful but because I am lucky. Mrs Sensible is good at playing scopa, but to make sure we stay married and that I am allowed to sleep in the bed and not on the sofa, we rarely play against each other.
Marco, who is a cousin and a great scopone player, was having a game with friends. When Mrs S and I arrived, he asked me if I wanted a game and if I knew how to play. I replied that I knew the rules but he might have to help me. Ok, I will partner with the Englishman and give him some help, he told his friends.
We wiped the floor with them, is was so funny. What Marco’s friends didn’t know was I had been taught by Sicilian experts and had played countless games with Marco.
* Grande culo literally translates to big arse, but it is used to describe somebody who is very lucky.
Pecora’s rating 10+
Ok, I am ashamed to say I rate poorly here, I have mastered the waving of the hands, I know enough Italian to buy wine and other alcoholic drinks and that is about it. I do know quite a few Italian swear words for when I am driving. Honestly it is not because I am pigro*, it is because the gene that controls language development was never turned on.
* pigro. Italian for lazy, I know this word because I have heard Mrs S use it.
Pecora’s rating -10
I thought I would score high here, but Italians don’t really drink much. They like their wine and a cool beer but in moderation* I on the other hand, love grappa, white wine, red wine, beer, limoncello, masala. In fact I like any drink that contains alcoholic, although I do draw the line at methylated spirits and rubbing alcohol . I also score low because I will drink a cappuccino after midday, which is a complete no no in Italy
* moderation. I had to google this word.
Pecora’s rating 6
Just before the winter, Mrs Sensible and I were stuck in a queue at the local supermarket. There were about eight shoppers in front of us. Fortunately I spotted a shop assistant getting ready to open the till next to ours, so I grabbed Mrs Sensible by the arm and dragged her over to the now open till. This is normal practice in Italy, you need to be fast on your feet and be able to make strategic use of your shopping trolley to inhibit other shoppers. There is none of this, excuse me I think they are opening a new till and you are before me…. oh no, we just run.
As we reached the till, I heard in perfect English “darling, they were behind us and now they are in front of us!!!” I was amazed, an English couple in our village during the winter!!! and just when I decide to behave like an Italian!! Mrs S was not impressed with me. I spent the next 10 minutes apologising to the English shoppers who were obviously lost and to Mrs S for my behaviour.
Pecora’s rating a cool 10+ (minus 8 for getting caught)
I hope this guide to living as a true Italian has been helpful to you, and I hope you score higher than I did.
* The brilliant photo of the hunk in the pink budgie smugglers and orange man bag was taken by Jann Huizenga from www.baroquesicily.com please visit the site for some excellent photos of Sicily
Thanks to the COSI group for suggesting the post title and if you go to the COSI page you can catch up on their posts or follow the links
So here are the rest of the posts from the alliance of expat in Italy bloggers:
from our fabulous COSÌ group:
- By Married to Italy – The fear of the fake
- By Rick of Rick’s Rome: “The Authentic Italian Culture Debate”
- By Andrea of Sex, Lies and Nutella: “How to be an authentic Italian (in 9 simple steps)”
- By Georgette of Girl in Florence: “Real or Fake? Shop Smart in Italy”
- By Gina of The Florence Diaries: http://wp.me/p1BZQR-ih
- (more links coming soon)
from our new friends at Italy Blogger Roundtable:
- Jessica – Where is this “authentic Italy” everyone’s looking for?
- Gloria – The odd woman out’s view on “authentic Italy”
- Rebecca – Italy Roundtable: Finocchi Rifatti al Pomodoro
- Alexandra – Art and Travel: the authenticity of seeing art in person
- Melanie – Everything is Authentic
- Kate – On being authenticated
- Michelle – Living Authentically: How Italy Forced the Issue