In a matter of weeks, I will step off a plane in Italy and begin a grand adventure. My husband, son and I are moving to Tuscany this fall. Family, friends and loyal blog followers know this has been a dream of mine for more than a decade. Many friends continue to ask how I will adjust to such a monumental culture shock. I’m not worried about the differences; this is the main reason I want to live in Italy. I’ve fallen in love with the culture, people and customs. As I countdown the day to departure I have complied a list of the top eleven things I can happily get used to by living in Italy.
In my humble opinion Italian food is in a class all by itself. My favorite meals have all been consumed in Italy. I could go on and on about each and every meal I’ve devoured in a separate blog post. For the sake of your sanity I will just keep it simple—just like the ingredients in Italian dishes.
Quantity over quality does not exist here. Quality matters and the fresh ingredients prove just how much Italians love their food. You can taste the differences between store bought and handmade pastas. I have family members who suffer from celiac disease in the U.S. who can eat whatever breads and pastas they want in Italy without getting sick. Here are just a few meals that haunt my dreams while I’m away from Italy.
You know you’re in Italy when just the house vino tastes better than any expensive bottle bought in the States. I’ve had trouble finding any wines that compare to the 2 euro a glass I can get at Bar Italia in Ponte a Serraglio. A few years ago Gregg and I bought a bottle of white in Maiori for under two euro. We still talk about which surprised us more, the price or the flavor. Each palate differs, but just test my theory the next time you journey to Italy.
As a coffee addict I attest to being completely obsessed with Italian cappuccinos. I dream about them when I’m in the States and make a B-line for the closest coffee shop upon our arrival in Italy. My daughter and good friend both work in a coffee shop in the U.S. Since both have visited Italy they have tasted the Italian cappuccino and tried to replicate back home. Despite their best efforts the taste cannot be matched.
Italy has perfected the concept of Aperitivo. This pre-dinner ritual of drinks and snacks keeps our local bars busy each night. While some bars keep it simple with nuts or olives, other establishments put out a full spread of pastas, grilled vegetables, breads, cheeses and other finger foods.
At our favorite bar, the owner offers fantastic snacks included in the 2 euro a glass of vino or my other favorite, Aperol Spritz. Social hour and spirits make for a very happy hour in Italy.
Learning a new language
Studies suggest that learning a new language can boost brain power. I studied Spanish and German in high school and college. I wish Italian had been offered. Since my first trip to Italy I’ve fallen in love with the language. I miss hearing it and speaking it when I am in the States. Now that we are moving to Italy I’ve made a vow to become fluent within a year. I refuse to be the person that doesn’t assimilate to a new country and culture. Italy will be my home and I want to embrace every aspect.
Ease of travel
Europe has perfected mass transit. I do not need to get behind the wheel to travel to nearby cities such as Florence or Pisa. A quick bus or train ride has me standing in front of historic monuments in about an hour. I’m still trying to grasp the fact that travel to Austria, France or Germany takes much less time by train than driving from Indiana to Florida. Before you Google the distance, it’s about 1000 miles or 14 hours.
Life moves at a rapid rate in the States. A trip to the grocery store or coffee shop involves getting behind the wheel of your car. In Italy I can walk to my local shops and restaurants or just enjoy long walks in neighboring villages.
Proper attire for the grocery store and more
I’m guilty of rolling out of bed and heading to the grocery store in sweats and no makeup. This would be a major fashion faux pau in Italy. No need to go for Sophia Loren when stepping out but the Walmart look is not acceptable. I’ve learned that even heading to the market, post office or bakery requires my sweatpants stay hidden in their drawer.
La Dolce Vita
La dolce vita is more than a movie by the same name. Each traveler to Italy experiences the sweet life in his or her own way. For me la dolce vita took hold of my heart upon my first trip in 2005. Not just the food and wine embedded in my dreams, but the customs, culture, history and people. I wanted to know more, to see more and to experience more of everything Italy had to offer. I’m blessed il Bel Paese home will soon be my home and refuse to take anything for granted.
Before you take a plunge in any Italian pool make sure to cover your head. Italy requires swim caps. Most public pools and hotels will sell or rent a “cuffia” if you’re without.
I have a love affair with gelato. Who couldn’t get used to eating this creamy dessert as much as possible? If you haven’t tasted gelato don’t do it the injustice by comparing it or calling it ice cream. Gelato has less fat than ice cream and uses more milk. We brought my Mother to Italy during Christmas vacation and her first request was to find a gelato stand. And who could blame her? You can’t visit Italy without a trip to a gelateria.
I’m sure after moving and living in Italy my list will grow.