These Italians know a thing or two about…

Since Brittany has started classes there has been a bit of a break in the action for us. (It would be kind of unfair of me to go exploring new things while she’s sitting in a classroom…right?…right??…yeah, I guess so.)  Anyway, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about some of the super-random things that Brittany and I think these Italians have absolutely done right.  Now, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m not from “the big city,” but I’m also not a country bumpkin…that being said, some of these things might not be available only to Europeans, they might be all over America and I just haven’t seen them yet.  Either way, here they are –

Our list of stuff these Italians are doing right:

  • Their towels have hooks sewn into them

Like I said…these are mostly random things…but putting hooks on towels so they hang…genius. (I know that right now, on this first item on the list, I sound like a country bumpkin…I know and don’t care.)  I mean, every hitchhiker needs one, right?

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And it’s not just bath towels…it’s kitchen towels too.

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  • Their dish drainer is above the sink

This might not be true for all, or even most, of the houses/apartments here, and I know that space dictates arranging items for functionality rather than beauty; but I have to say, it is really nice to be able to wash dishes and places them in a drainer that drips right into the sink.  I know back home the space above the sink is typically not utilized or it plays home to a window (because it helps us imagine we are not completing a chore but rather lounging the day away in the sun?), either way, the functionality of this is incredible; also, you can close the cabinet door and Voila! all your dishes are put away.

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  • Brittany doesn’t get catcalled / whistled at

As I was working on a preliminary list for this blog, Brittany made sure that this item was included.  When we first arrived in Bologna, it was still very much summer weather as far as the temperature was concerned.  Meaning that I wore a lot of t-shirts and shorts and Brittany wore shorts or sundresses.  She says that, back home, any time she wore items of this nature, inevitably someone would catcall or whistle at her; here, she says, no one has done that (other than me).

  • Beers come in half liters (and it’s cheap)

We found out rather quickly that every establishment here seems to serve alcohol (we haven’t asked for it at the police station or the hospital yet, but who knows), and they all serve it for a very low price (I just bought a six pack this afternoon and it cost 2.70€ {around $3}).  And not only is it cheep, but, at most restaurants, when you order a beer, it comes in a half liter!  The hobbit in me rejoices.

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  • Wine is tasty and locally made (and it’s cheap)

Ah, wine, though not my favorite, I can appreciate a good vino (wine) when I taste it…and there are lots of good tastes here!  Back home, I enjoyed getting beer from my favorite local brewer…Yazoo, but here, we get wine from the regional vineyards, and while there are several expensively priced bottles on the shelf, the majority are priced well under $10.  In fact, most are in the $3-$4 range.

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  • Art is everywhere

I’ll say that again…Art is everywhere.  I grant you, this item should have been first on my list, but we have several posts dedicated to art, and will continue to have more…and more…and more…because it’s everywhere!  This list is dedicated to some of the odder things, so rather than focus on the art itself, I have focused on the fact that every crevice has something artistic.  Graffiti, both the random, stupid stuff and the my god that is a work of art stuff, is on every wall, every door front, and every surface that someone could possibly get to.  There is also hidden art everywhere, you look up and the architect has put ornate flowers on the corners of the roof, or a statue is built at the end of a portico, or any number of other things.  Every church has a story told in art (architecturally and with statues and paintings), and it’s sad to see the statues have eroded and the paint has withered away, but, as pointed out in another post, you would have to kick everyone out and put this city under a glass dome to protect everything.

Art vs. Art?

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  • Windows all have awesome shutters

Every window has a shutter (not made of plastic) and they are actually used.  They are wooden and aged and a lot of times weathered and beautiful.  I’m looking at our kitchen shutters right now, and, yes, they are distressed, with paint chipping away in several places; but in America we pay good money to have someone fake that look.  Here, they just make you feel Italy.

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  • Everyone speaks multiple languages

Everyone definitely speaks Italian, but everyone also seems to be able to speak at least one other language…and that other language is not always English.  I took two years of French in high school…that was it.  I wish I had been forced to take another language my entire school career.  There is so much beauty in these other languages and I hate that I’m stuck with just one.

(A caveat to this – no one speaks any other language other than Italian at places where you need them to speak something else…*cough, cough* or at least they pretend to only be able to speak Italian.  You have to go to the Poste Italiane (the Italian post office) to purchase and turn in your permit to stay application (which is entirely in Italian) and no one at the post office spoke anything other than Italian.  After your permit to stay application is turned in, you receive a paper with your appointment at the immigration office, and we found out today that no one speaks anything but Italian.)

(A second caveat – Brittany and I are learning Italian, but it is a slow process.  And learning Italian and trying to have a conversation with an Italian are two totally different things.)

  • You can get medicine from the pharmacy without a prescription

This has proven to be a life-saver so far.  Brittany and I have purchased international insurance so if we need to go to the doctor we can, but the process of filling out all the paperwork involved in that is daunting.  Brittany felt really sick when we first arrived, and last week I thought I had either a kidney stone or a UTI, both times we were able to simply go to the Farmacia, describe our symptoms, and walk away with basic medication.  Now, we are not talking about morphine or dilaudid here, but if you need an antibiotic they’ve got you covered.  You can also get things like Cranberry pills there, however, since cranberries are apparently not grown here, 60 capsules will cost you about $40…we chose not to get them.

  • Food

Just food in general.  Not much more I can say about that, especially since I have devoted an entire series of blog posts just to food.

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Food = Yum.


Now, with all these random good things, there must also be a few bad…so we’ve included a short list of these as well.

Our list of stuff these Italians are doing wrong:

  • Maple Syrup, Peanut Butter, Mexican food, and Cranberries are EXPENSIVE

Yes, at least we have access to these items, and, yes, we could, theoretically, live without them, but man are they ridiculously expensive.  We were so excited to finally find them and then very sad because we realized our wallet wouldn’t allow us to have them.  A little bottle of syrup…$7.  A tiny jar of PB…~$5.  A nacho kit…$8.  Cranberries…you don’t even want to go there.

On the plus size though…Nutella is CHEAP!!!  Now if I could just find some PB M&M’s here…or better yet…Nutella M&M’s…Ferrero (makers of Nutella) and Mars (makers of M&M’s) MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

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  • The shower is tiny

Americans, don’t take your ginormous shower/tub for granted.  I am fairly tall and fairly skinny, but I cannot move in ours without hitting the wall or shower curtain (and every time you hit the shower curtain water floods your bathroom floor).  Brittany asked me what I missed most about home, and other than family and friends, this is it.

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  • Gas stovetops

Yes, gas stoves are in America, and I know some even prefer them, but they seem to be the norm here, and while Brittany and I can cook on them, it is not a pleasure.  Here’s our deal – we have a great ceiling fan in the kitchen/living room, when it’s on, there’s no need for the AC; however, you can’t have the fan on and have the gas stove on.  The circulation of air created by the fan wreaks havoc on the burner’s flame and it takes an eternity to cook anything.  So you have to cut the fan off to cook, but the gas stove top makes the room incredibly hot, by the time you have anything cooked, your so hot you barely want to eat.  Imagine your outside cooking on your awesome gas grill…now imagine that your cooking with that same grill in your bedroom…so hot.

  • McDonald’s

Okay, yes, we have gone to McDonald’s because we wanted something cheap and quick, but, just like back home, it was pretty disappointing.  But McDonald’s is one of the only places where you have access to a restroom…if you make a purchase…I guess we’ll have to try the McLobster next time we need to make a pit stop.

Also, not sure about these guys being the first thing we were able to read upon arriving in Italy.  Granted, McDonald’s ketchup is good, but come on…McDonald’s mayonnaise and not mustard…if anything, they should have bottled their pickle chips.

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I think that’s it for now.  This was just for fun so I hope no one gets the idea that we are bumpkins, but we thought it would be nice to show you how things are done in other places.

Be sure to tune in for the next blog when we Try out the BIDET!!! (Just kidding.  I’m sure those things are great but I can’t imagine trying to use one when you don’t know what you’re doing…just bad images…lots of bad images.  I’m as scared of it as a dog is of a vacuum cleaner.  Update: While she was editing this blog, Brittany decided to watch a few Youtube videos.  Still nope.  But if your interested check one out here or a more humorous version here.)


Italian word of the day: sugo – sauce (because it’s Italy and delicious sauce is on everything)

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