I will try to make this a serious post, I haven’t managed it in the past so please don’t hold your breath; summer is on the way and you will be wondering how you can fit in with the local and not stand out like a tourist.
So let us begin with clothing.
No matter how much you love your own country, it is not a very good idea to go shopping in the local Italian market dressed in an ensemble of your countries flag… Leave the flag at home….. the locals will know you are an american without wearing the stars and stripes on your hat, shirt shorts and probably your knickers!!!
I snapped this photo while Mrs Sensible was buying some clothes and I was attempting to look interested in life.
I am adding the following clothing rule, although I fundamentally disagree with it. FLIP FLOPS are for the beach, I know this because every time I attempt to leave the house in my flip flops the fashion police (aka Mrs Sensible) stops me. It has got so bad I keep a spare set in the boot of my car.
If you scroll down you can read about the Brick Fetish of Vignale Monferrato and here is a wonderful picture of a pair of Brick Flip Flops, probably originating from Vignale.
Here is an Italian man walking through the shopping area of Casale Monferrato, it was a hot sunny day in May, of course I was wearing jeans, T-shirt and flip flops.
He will have paid more for his shoes than I paid for my best suit, pay close attention to his scarf, the scarf is really a medical apparel, its purpose is to prevent Cervicale. So don’t worry about the weather, bring your overcoat and look like an Italian.
Moving swiftly onto food
When you are sat in the pizzeria or restaurant, sipping a glorious glass of wine, please remember not to ask for your favourite Italian food that you normally eat at Toni’s Restaurant, near your house…
Because Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist, bolognese sauce is only ever served with torellini, tagliatelle, or gnocchi, amazingly Heinz Spaghetti Bolognese has not yet reached our supermarkets.
And if you ask for Pineapple and Ham pizza, they might just ask you to leave the restaurant.
Also, if you want to make the restaurant owner laugh, ask for a cappuccino after the meal. Italians only drink cappuccino before 10:30 in the morning, after that you have to grit your teeth and drink an espresso, or if you must have milk in your coffee ask for a Macchiato, or better still a have a glass of grappa.
How can anybody make a mistake with flowers? Just imagine, you meet the love of your life, a very pretty signorina, you remember not to offer her a cappuccino, because it is after 10:30, the evening goes wonderfully and the next day you arrive to meet her with a bunch of flowers in your hand. Unfortunately you chose a bunch of carnations.
She scowls and tells you, today she has to wash her hair and is too busy. You are left stood on the doorstep with
a can of a bunch of white carnations in your hand. Why? Because we give carnations at funerals.
I really didn’t want to upset you over the trains in Italy and I don’t want to over complicate the problem because, well it is complicated enough. In fact, I will write a separate post detailing the fun and games of booking a train ticket.
Remember to drive on the left, or is it the right? I can only remember when I get in the car and notice the steering wheel is not where it should be. In the ten years that I have been here, I have only driven on the wrong side of the road once, erh! and tried to go around a roundabout the wrong way. Mrs S had forgiven me and only occasionally has nightmares about it.
It wasn’t really my fault, the car-park opened up straight onto the roundabout, and I asked which way we needed to go and she said left, she did mean around the roundabout, but I just turned left.
I will try to upload a guide to Italian Trains later this week.