Saturday, March 22, 2008

If You Ever Go To Italy, Here's What You Need To Know: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

For those of you who don't know, I am part Italian. Last summer, I visited the country of my heritage for the first time, spending time in Bellagio, Tuscany and Rome with my girlfriend and her family. It was truly an awesome cultural and personal experience, and I would love to go back one day.

Still though, there were certain things about this country that were just odd, and reminded you that this was indeed a world away from the good ol' US of A. Observe:


In some of the more commercial establishments...

(i.e., a McDonalds; and just so you know, food snobs, I just used the restroom there. Despite my well-known love of fast food, I didn't do a "ghastly" act and eat there rather than enjoy Italy's cuisine.)

...female bathroom attendants think nothing of cleaning the urinals while plenty of men still reside inside.

And apparently, the men think nothing of it either as none of them seemed shocked while this was going on.

Still, I kindly waited till she left.


Hot and cold water knobs are difficult to navigate in Italy. "E" means cold, "C" means hot, but the "C" doesn't get hot right away. It takes a while for the water to get hot, so you're not sure if you're actually turning the "cold" knob.

Total shower time (on average): 7 minutes for shower, 123 minutes to get water temperature right.


No salt-and-pepper shakers on the table. Not that you need them, but those who enjoy ground pepper in their salads are out of luck here.


And finally, let's bust the "ice" myth. I don't why everyone thinks ice is nonexistent in Italy. All you have to do is ask. Seriously, that's it. When you order your coca cola (be sure to say "coca cola" as half the time you get a vacant stare when you say "coke") ask them for ice as well. Not only will they bring you a fine quantity of ice, but often -- just so you don't bother them with the "ice" question ever again -- they will bring you a bowl of ice that the whole table can share.

Of all my contributions to my girlfriend's family on this trip, this was the biggest: Asking for ice cubes. For some reason, they had trouble with it.

I, however, had a knack for it.

It was the American side of me, I guess.


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