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Loveable things about Italy


 Wherever you are, you’re never more than two hours’ drive from that glorious, captivating
sea
 Wherever you are, you’re never more than two hours’ drive from equally glorious mountains
 Wherever you are, there’s bound to be some splendid Roman/Renaissance monuments to
admire nearby
 The musical Italian language
 The outrageously open way guys there express their admiration on the street (secretly a
pleasure to any recipient)
 Drinking fountains are everywhere (no small matter in the heat of summer)
 Cute guys
 Less cute girls
 Mozzarella di bufala (manna from heaven with a little olive oil)
 The COFFEE (in a thick ceramic cup, hot and black)
 Breakfast in a bar
 The sales (no, I’m not shallow, but they know how to manage things here – you won’t run
into precisely the same stuff at full price again the next season)
 Neighbors are friendly and helpful
 After partying all night you can buy a gigantic prosciutto sandwich to ease your stomach
problems the next day (and because it tastes divine)
 You can get a Dolcetto or a Barbera (wonderful wines) at the supermarket any time
 The doctors in the hospitals are friendly and (unlike in many Central and Eastern European
countries) nobody expects a backhander to ensure first-rate treatment
 Old people pontificating on the piazzas
 Shop assistants don’t glower at you, but smile
 In fact, they do more, they actually assist you
 In most restaurants/bars/pubs the staff seem to have grasped that you’re not simply a
nuisance, but the person spending the money they live from, and they do their best to
encourage you to come back
 Lots of beautiful cobblestones
 All of Italy is like one huge, beautiful backdrop for romantic lovebirds
 Not a lot of dog dirt to step in
 Fathers love looking after their children, and proudly push the pram
 Lots of sunshine
 Everything looks well-designed and elegant
 Scattered chaos somehow coheres into an orderly whole
 There’s something about the wild gesticulation, loud talking and gelled hair that ends up
being deeply endearing

Italy - Trento - v.g. photo

Italy - Modena - v.g.

Italy - Ferrara - v.g. photo

Practicals

Transport


“Today began by throwing some euros down the drain. What happened was this: I parked the car near the Pompeii excavations, and saw that 30 minutes was fifty cents. I took a €2 coin and stuck it in the machine, but was surprised to find that it only offered me a maximum of one hour. I realized that this was a phenomenon I’d encountered before, in Oslo, for instance, where the longer you park, the more expensive the hourly rate becomes.

The problem was, an hour isn’t nearly enough to see Pompeii, and I didn’t have much change. In the end, I lost the €2 I’d already put into the machine, and drove on to a place further away where I could park for free.

The other thing travelers in Italy need to be aware of is the fact that in the south, the highway tolls are not charged in proportion to the mileage covered. If you drive onto the highway you’re charged, say, €2, and that will cover you for about thirty kilometers. But if you turn off at the first exit, after a few hundred yards, that’s your problem. After I had done that, it turned out that the road I wanted to take was closed, so the best way would have been to go back onto the highway – and pay another €2… Hmm… In the end, I decided to take my chances with the suicidal moped riders on the lower quality road.” (phica, 2016)


Italy - traffic policeman with the red disk

Italy - traffic policeman - v.g. photo

Food

“Back home I used to always feel uncomfortable, when for example I’d visit an upmarket pizzeria with friends. Do I really have to eat my pizza with a knife and fork? Here in Italy, that’s completely out of the question: even the most elegant and charming ladies, sitting in the fanciest of Italian restaurants, are quite happy to eat this marvel of Italian cuisine with their hands. This also ties in to a very useful and ingenious habit of the Italians: they cut a larger slice of pizza, then fold it almost in half to make something reminiscent of a sandwich.”

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“I love that real Italian pizza – not the abominations you find elsewhere, with a hodgepodge of ingredients thrown across half a kilo of thick, soggy bread, but the real deal: a paper-thin, delicious base lathered with real tomato sauce, and a refined number and quantity of toppings. 

It’s not customary to give a tip, by the way – the service charge is already included in the bill.

Try all kinds of pasta dishes – they’re all very different from the sort of ‘Italian cooking’ you find elsewhere in the world.

Italian beers: these were the one thing that didn’t impress me, and in fact, I still get a bit annoyed when I think about it now. I’m not saying I’m a big beer expert, but the ones I tasted in Italy were totally forgettable: colorless, odorless, foamless beers. The only thing I liked about them was the quantity – 0.66 liters instead of the usual half liter.

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“It’s no secret that coffee in Italy is an almost sacred thing, a religion, and like any religion it has rules which only the sacrilegious break. Italians will drink a coffee any time and anywhere, choosing from among an endless range of different variations, and everyone has their own particular ritual for brewing the perfect pot at home.

A well-equipped Italian home will have at least four different sizes of moka pots, and of course these days you increasingly see capsule-based espresso machines as well.

In my opinion, few things are quite as Italian as the smell of coffee and the clinking of spoons stirring sugar in cups in a roadside Italian café. I can’t get enough of this atmosphere, even today.

If you go into a coffee bar and are not familiar with Italian customs, brace yourself because the response to your innocent request of “one coffee please” is likely to be a raised eyebrow: WHAT KIND of coffee would you like? Well, here’s a list of ‘appropriate’ orders: In the morning a cappuccino, a caffe latte or a latte macchiato, during the day an espresso, a ristretto, a macchiato or a lungo, and in the evening a corretto or decaffeinato, and in summer a cold shakerato, or perhaps a cold coffee with ice. And this is just a very basic, truncated list. And even if you already know what kind of coffee you want, that’s just the first step. Next you have to decide whether you want it served in a cup or a glass, and whether the water should be filtered or not. In other words, it isn’t hard for a barista to make an inexperienced traveler sweat. Oh, and if – God forbid! – someone has the temerity to order a cappuccino after lunch, well, they had better be ready for some ugly looks at the very minimum.”

Italy - good in its simplicity - g.m. photo

Shopping

Closing times. Nothing makes a Northern Italian angrier than using the word ‘siesta’ with reference to them. Only the Southern Italians take siestas (that’s why nothing works down there!) but it doesn’t exist in the north. Still, it’s interesting to note that even in the north, most shops close from about noon or half past noon until about 3 pm. Really big shops are open all day, of course, and half signs up saying ‘orario continuato’ or ‘uninterrupted service.’

No, you often pop out a lunchtime for some quick shopping, or to buy something you need? That isn’t possible in Italy, except after work. What’s more, most shops have one day of the week when they’re only open for half the day – often Monday morning or Monday afternoon – but in Turin, for instance, most convenience stores seem to close for some reason on Wednesday afternoons. The point seems to be to make it as difficult as possible to remember when you can and cannot buy the things you need. Oh, and 24-hour shops don’t exist at all, and on Sundays, with the exception of a few hypermarkets outside of town, absolutely everything is closed. There’s no such thing as just heading out to the convenience store at eight in the evening or on a Sunday morning because you’ve just realized you ran out of butter.”



Italy - proactive street vendor

Public safety

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Italy - troopers

Others

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Italy - David as nutrition - l.z. photo

Italy - The supermarket management asks its customers not to give alms to the beggars staying in front of the store. The beggars collect from 60 to 100 euros a day, as much as an Italian skilled worker earn a day (prior tax payment)

Background

Italy - national flag - bandiera nazionale - Il tricolore italiano

Destination in brief

Italy in brief


Italy is in Southern Europe. Neighbors are France (west), Switzerland, Austria (north), Slovenia (east), and 2 enclave microstates: the Vatican and San Marino.

Italy’s western coast is on the Tyrrhenian Sea, its eastern coast on the Adriatic Sea, and its southern one (as well as Sardinia’s western coast) on the Mediterranean Sea.


Size: 301,338 km² (116,347 mi²) - Longest distance: 381 kilometers (237 miles) from northeast to southwest. Italy is typically portrayed as being shaped like a high-heeled boot that is kicking a ball (namely, Sicily). The driving distance from the Italian-Austrian border (at Predoi) to Messina in Sicily is 1,430 kilometers (890 miles) - a 14 hours and 20 minutes non-stop drive.


Four fifth of the territory of Italy is mountainous, or at least hilly. Italy has more earthquakes than all the rest of Europe.


Capital city: Rome - 4.2 million (2020). With a population of 3,1 million, Milan is the second biggest Italian city.


Population (in 2020): 60.4 million - most people are living in the country's northern part.


The hand gestures used by the Italians almost constitute an independent language that should have its own dictionary. They are used to underline concepts or ideas. They use body language for entire conversations that can actually go on without the use of verbal communication. Asking an Italian to stop making gestures and to keep his hands in his pockets would be inhuman.


Language: Italian, a neo-Latin language – easy to learn for those who speak French or Spanish. Italian and Latin grammar are very different (for example Italian has articles while the Latin does not).


Religion: 83.3% Roman Catholic, 12.4% are irreligious, atheist or agnostic, 3.8% are Muslims


Italy is a republic (Republica Italiana)


Currency: Euro


Average net monthly salary: around 1,400 Euro (2020)


Most frequent surname: Rossi


50 million tourists visit Italy every year. There is no other country in the world that has so many UNESCO World Heritage sites - namely: 60.


There is a University dedicated exclusively to studying and researching ice cream making. Located in Anzola dell’Emilia, near Bologna, the Gelato University attracts thousands of people from all over the world eager to learn how to make proper Italian gelato.


People


Most of the positive stereotypes surrounding Italians have to do with food. In Northern and Western
Europe there’s a tendency to see the Italians as lazy and self-centered, incapable of even electing a
sensible government. Someone said that “Italians never talk about anything except their moms and
their pasta.” Italians, by contrast, don’t seem to have so many stereotypes about the rest of Europe,
and within their own country, there are also deep, entrenched divisions between the northern and
southern halves. Northern Italians tend to view the south as lazy and incapable, while southerners
tend to view the north as money-obsessed, and unable to really enjoy life.

One reasonably fair generalization, however, is that wherever you go in Italy, family is at the heart of
life. It really is just as it appears in the films we’ve all seen set in Italy. Familial ties are taken
extremely seriously, even at the level of cousins. Aunts, uncles and cousins mean as much to the
Italians as mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters might mean elsewhere in Europe. Most Italians
have good taste, and this manifests itself in many walks of life, in the quality of their design.
Everyone knows the Italians are passionate, and gesticulate a lot, which to outsiders can appear a
little theatrical at times. They’re capable of discussing the most everyday occurrences with a
vehemence which might lead a tourist who doesn’t speak the language to believe that they’re
witnessing some volcanic argument.
Though they’ll cuss and grumble about their country at every opportunity, Italians are well aware
how beautiful it is – they like to call it the bel paese, the beautiful land. Italians (mostly the middle
class, of course) love to travel abroad and explore interesting countries, but at the end of the day,
and despite all it’s drawbacks and inconveniences, most would agree that ‘east, west, home’s best’.

Italy - a patriot - n.c. photo

Gastronomy

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Italy - sfogliatelle - n.c. photo

Italy - Cedro citron, that is a very large variety of citrus - the thick peel makes up 80 percent of the fruit - s.u. photo

Attractions

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