General Observations: Italia

We have seen McDonald’s at or near every train station we have visited so far in Italy, and I feel like it is both similar and different from America. They have a lot of similar products like you can get a Dr. Pepper at the McDonald’s and a Big Mac, even though they are more expensive here. However, the menu has adapted to fit the Italian culture you can get cappuccinos’ macaroons, donuts, and other bakery items which I have never seen at an American McDonald’s, I can’t tell you how the food compares taste wise because I stopped eating McDonalds’ a long time ago and I have no intentions of starting again now.

One thing I found very interesting, and like quite a bit is the social/nightlife aspect of Italian culture. When I talk about nightlife I do not mean the bar and club scene, I am referring to the casual and routine way Italians gather with their friends and families to fellowship at night. In America, nightlife is primarily saved for adults, and one weekends for teenagers when their parents give them permission. Here it is something natural, every night I am amazed at the number of young children I see out after 10 p.m. strolling around with their parents. This leads me into my next point which is their meals, in particular dinner, unlike America where we eat chat and leave, Italians usually engage in several courses and reacquaint themselves with everyone at the table during dinner. I personally do not want to sit down for dinner longer than an hour to an hour and a half, but I can appreciate the time to just be present in the moment with those around you. It calming to just sit around with friends over a good plate of food and check-in, and invest in the people around you. Another thing I have noticed is that Italians are very friendly, especially if you are polite and attempt to speak some Italian. During our long weekend, we had the misfortunate of getting locked out of our Airbnb (I won’t’ go into specifics I could write a book about this), but a sweet yet diligent Italian Nonna was persistent on helping us and within thirty minutes we were back in our apartment. She was under no obligation to help us, and when the problem was not readily resolved she did not shrug her shoulders and toss us off, instead she made it her personal mission to help us out until the issue was resolved. For what it was worth it was a pretty good learning experience for us, even though we were anxious in the moment, and this is not to say Americans are friendly because I think we are but I think it is important to point out the hospitality of Italians.

One thing about Italians that did not frustrate me, but I believe it would if I lived here for an extended period, is their overtly casual way of doing things. Granted in America we have a hyper-worked society where sitting down for five minutes means you are losing the winning edge in this game of live, or so we are taught and Italians are well, completely opposite. I went to go get a crepe one day at five o’clock, because the restaurant said it opened at four thirty, but when I got there they were still setting up and needed an additional fifteen minutes before they were, so essentially they were not actually open for business until forty-five minutes after they initially said they would be. There is a blatant lack of urgency, which is a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the U.S., but let’s just say I would never want to need a taxi in Italy because who knows how long it will take for them to reach you. I believe Americans could slow down and work a little less, and Italians could speed up, and work a little more.

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