Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing Italy: Top Ten Italian Details


European Sarah
Here I am glamming it up in Rome.
Nigel and I tried to blend in with the natives.

So I said I'd have more to say about Italy, and I figured why not turn it into a writing post? Whenever you write about a place it's handy to either have been there or have some good intel on the little details of what makes a place unique. Just a few details can evoke the feeling of a foreign land or a diner down the street.

Here's my personal list of details that make Italy feel like Italy. I stuck to places, food, and things. The people of Italy are a whole post of their own, and I'm not entirely sure I can do them justice. But maybe later.

Bright arch in Rome


  1. Cigarettes. Even Italy keeps the smokers outside, but smoking just doesn't seem to have the same sort of stigma it's got in "the States." You can see smokers all over, and 7-11 type places have little cigarette vending machines, so you can get your fix no matter the time of day or night.
  2. No Washcloths. I do not get it. Italian hotels never had washcloths. I love washcloths for a quick wash after sweating to death in the hot Italian sun. But apparently these guys don't use them. Crazy sauce. (It drove me just a little bit crazy.)
  3. Bidets. Continuing on the bathroom theme, there was a small porcelain bidet in almost every hotel we stayed in. Some people swear by them. I gave it a try and wasn't impressed. If my butt's that dirty, I'll just take a shower, thank you very much. But I was thinking: adult baby wipes might not be a bad idea to get everything all fresh and clean.
  4. Stripes, Boots, and Tight Pants. There were a lot of these in Italian fashion. The boots kinda surprised me. All sorts of cool boots. If they weren't so expensive I might have bought myself a pair.
  5. Trains. You might already know this, but trains will get you everywhere in Italy. We didn't rent a car. We took local, regional, and fast trains.
  6. Two Hour Dinners. I'm not sure they actually took a full two hours, but, then again, I wouldn't be surprised if they lasted even longer in peoples' houses. Glasses of wine, evened out by small, continual servings of food, and tons of laughter and conversation. I could see everlasting dinners every now and again, but, honestly, these people took forever. My American sensibilities just couldn't handle it.
  7. Food and Drink: wine, gelato, pasta, and bitter water (a.k.a. mineral water). I am totally on board with these Italian food stuffs, but not that awful carbonated, bitter water. I did try some mineral water, but yeck.
  8. Virgin Marys. Everywhere. I swear, Italy has approximately 5 Virgin Mary’s per square foot.
  9. Insane Drivers. And crazier Bikers. Every single car had black marks on its bumper and probably a few dents. They go fast and they make ways for themselves where none exist. I'm not actually sure how any of the bikers are still alive.
  10. History Everywhere. Whether it's the Roman Empire, the Renaissance or yet another amazing church, almost everywhere you look has some artifact. They're so thick on the ground that they just get left out in the open air and people brush by them on a daily basis.

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