How authentic an Italian are you?

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

Photo taken yesterday by yours truly

Photo taken yesterday by yours truly. As you can see I was parked on the other side of the pedestrian crossing, and you can see in my mirror a car park that is half empty


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

This is not me on holiday  Credit:

It’s a man bag so he must be Italian NB: This is not me on holiday Credit:

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.

* If you go over to you can buy a brilliant book all about Sicilian games of cards Link

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

The great Marcel Marceau credit: Telegraph news

I communicate with mime The great Marcel Marceau credit: Telegraph news


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


Grappa from


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)

Italian shopping trolley

Italian shopping trolley

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 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:

    1. from our fabulous COSÌ group:

      from our new friends at Italy Blogger Roundtable:

58 thoughts on “How authentic an Italian are you?

  1. Haha haaaaa!
    I love the queue hopping in Supermarkets! I’m impressed you are so good at that – could you give lessons to my Sicilian hubby, who always ends up last?
    I think I score even better than you on the parking side of things. I even go diagonally up the pavement…


  2. Haha! Very good “test”. I pass at the driving, fail at the moderation in drinking and will never, ever get the hang of the un-queue! Before living in Italy, I thought queuing was a basic human behaviour but it certainly seems to have skipped the entire nation! x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sue,
    The first time i went to Sicily we went to view a nativity where the local villagers dress up and create a complete village on the hillside. There was a small charge to enter the nativity village, so Mrs S went to the town hall to go and buy a ticket. The queue into the town hall was more like a rugby scrum I lost sight of my beloved as she disappeared once or twice.

    45 mins later she reappeared with two tickets, the ticket numbers were 255 and 256, Mrs S said ” it opens at 7.00pm we have tickets 255 & 256 so if we go at about 8.00 we will be let in. In my naivety I laughed and said it is just a ticket number, we will go at 7.

    At 7.00 PM we stood in a massive crowd of Italians (freezing to death) the guy at the gate said something in Italian, I asked Mrs S to translate what he had just said. Without glaring at me she said ever so sweetly “we are now open, if tickets 1 to 25 come forward, they can come in……”

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Minus 8 is for apologising and not for getting caught. A true Italian never apologises and looks at you with defiant eyes meaning: ” so, what do you have to say!” You should exercise on this, let me know !!:D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi etinkerbell,
      I know, I was so un-Italian, once I realised I was caught I reverted back to an Englishman and started to apologise. 🙂

      Last week at the supermarket. A man just appeared from nowhere and stood in front of Mrs S in the queue, she was furious, she told him off and he replied with “oh you don’t have much in your basket, I will let you in front of me”

      As the smoke started to come out of her ears I decided to take four steps to the right and pretend to look at the sweets on offer. When Mrs S switches into school marm, it is best to be in another room.


  6. I didn’t do so well on your test, either. Alas.

    But it reminds of my own Sicily experience last summer. The street where our apartment was located didn’t have any lines on the pavement to indicate traffic lanes, and so cars drove around indiscriminately. No surprise. Then one day I woke up and looked outside to see that the city workers had been working overnight to paint the perfect bright yellow lines to indicate the proper lanes. Progress!

    Sadly, the traffic patterns did not change as a result. Not even a little bit. Cars queuing at the light still resembled the line at the grocery store. The most aggressive move to the front.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rick,
      They actual painted some lines on the road!!! as you said progress:) But we all know traffic signs, lines on the road and red traffic lights are really just for decoration and should be ignored.

      When i first came here, I used to stop at pedestrian crossings and wait for people to cross the road. I stopped doing this after a big white van failed to stop behind me and redesigned the rear of my car.

      The van driver asked Mrs S why I had stopped and she said I was English and in England they stopped at pedestrian crossings to let people cross the road. He scratched his head and looked very bemused by the idea.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I do the queue dash here too 🙂 I think it’s acceptable though – I’m moving too fast to make sure 😉 Sounds like you’re doing very well! Mrs S will be so proud of you… 😉


  8. Since I’m usually in Venice driving is not an issue. I’m okay as long as I keep my mouth shut and don’t pull out my camera.
    But it all goes to hell when I order a cappuccino….at 5pm or heaven forbid, after dinner! Pleeeease….I have to have milk in my coffee…
    I have actually been ignored and it never came.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We went to Venice during the carnival, the only thing I saw was the back of the person walking in front of me… How can they cram so many people into one place at a time, no wonder the place is sinking.

      Cappuccino after 11.00 is a no no, or ask for milk in your tea.. 😉


      • I know about no cappuccino after 11am…knew before my first trip to Italy in 2004….which caused me not to order it at all on that trip. But I just decided to be brash and sometimes I get a disgusted look but since I’m not eating anything with tomatoes I tend to get what I ask for….even if it’s served with a dirty look.
        And since I’m not English and not really Canadian I tend to not take milk in my tea….although I love a good cream tea (scones and all) when in the UK…it’s the one thing “your” people really get right. Oh, and fish and chips!

        Liked by 1 person

        • And I tend to go to Venice in the winter (not the Carnevale part) when crowds are lower and some days are gloriously sunny….and others are frigid with dense fog. I love it.
          When I’m living there I’ll just find a way to hide out for the few weeks of Carnevale. I did that when I lived in Grenada (BWI) when the cruise ships were in port…..or if I was in a restaurant I just ordered “oil down” and they knew I had to be local, and that is a lovely stew that has little to do with oil except for sauteing the chicken.


        • What about, English bacon and egg sandwiches… English Beer, Englishmen…. lol

          I love cappuccino, the cafes that I use no longer give me a dirty look when I order a frothy cappuccino


          • We call that sandwich an “egg McMuffin” here and they are sold a McDonald’s….a place I do not frequent. I don’t drink so no English beer and I have no experience of English men but do love that accent (I know…to your mind I’m the one with the accent…had more than one Aussie tell me they love my accent….in Rome of all places and the Chinese tend to love my voice).
            I’m sure that once I establish a “local” in Venice I’ll have my cappuccino served with a smile. I could make it myself but it always tastes so much better when someone else makes it (particularly when it’s a handsome Italian barman).

            Liked by 1 person

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  15. This is hilarious Pete! One of my favorite posts of yours yet. I am totally 10 out 10 when it comes to queuing, I also itch my way forward like it’s my main life mission, I guess you just know you can wait forever otherwise. Also that photo of the empty car park and the guy parked in the pedestrian crossing is nothing short of awesome

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. Oh gee. I laughed and I laughed. This post became funnier and funnier as I made my way to the end. Italians are a different breed for sure. Over here, people HAD BETTER follow parking/driving rules or else the police will be after your bohonkus. (that’s arse) where you come from and it’s a name that , I think was made up by someone but I have no idea. I heard it at some point in my life.

    The most incredible thing that I learned here is that you can’t get coffee with milk after 11 am. Incredible! We have Starbucks and THEY SELL COFFEE. Lots of it and anytime of the day. Also cafes/restaurants always have coffee and tea on the menu.

    And you and MRS. S’s cousin are/were too clever. That was hilarious – beating those poor un-suspecting Italians. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 🙂 To be honest the difference between Italians and English is vast, the longer I live here the greater I see the difference. When I was living in the UK I thought the main difference was they make better pizza, they spoke a funny language and drove like lunatics, in reality I think we come from different planets. But I love them and living here.

      Mrs S’s cousin is brilliant, he has a great sense of humour and loves a good practical joke.

      Liked by 2 people

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  20. There should be extra supermarket plus points for having the palle to ask someone if you can skip ahead of them in the queue because you’ve ‘only got a couple of things’, despite the fact that they also only have a couple of things. Then, once you’re ensconced at the head of the queue, your daughter/mother/auntie/willingly-duped accomplice should appear out of nowhere with a trolley-full of goods, and join you because, ‘well, it’s only a couple of things, and we’re together, you know?’ Oh, and of course you will reveal the fact that you want to split the payment into three separate bills, one of which is to be paid half with coupons, to the cashier once she’s cashed everything up, necessitating the cancellation of 2/3 of the goods, and starting again …


  21. I don’t know how I missed seeing this post? It was reblogged: ) and I’m glad I saw it!
    I am yet again traveling on the train and reading you. My seat mates must wonder about me because I’m laughing out loud… The shopping cart episode and photo to match was my favorite… I remember countless supermercato episodes myself…. Putting the coin in the cart chain thingie was my favorite.. The US doesn’t have those, hence abandoned carts litter the parking lot!!
    I remember selling my soul for a coin if I forgot one before heading out to the market!!!
    Cheers and happy weekend! Viva l’Italia but please don’t stop washing dishes… It’s appreciated for sure!


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