Thursday, August 23, 2012

It has been one month.

Before I write about our recent trip to Pisa, I would like to list the 10 truths I have learned after one month of living in Italy:

1. Scooters and motorcyclists always have the right-of-way and are allowed to pass cars in the middle of the road, even with oncoming traffic.  They will ride in the middle of the road when they are going below the speed limit and they will do whatever they want whenever they want.
2. The last two weeks of August are the Italian 'ferie' or their holidays where everyone takes off from work--everyone.  The people who work the gas stations, the people who work in grocery stores, everyone who provides an important service will take off and not care that you need to buy gas.
3. The standards for beaches are extremely low.  It doesn't matter if there is only a small creek; if there is water, the Italians will be there.  When at the beach, men wear Speedos and the women can go around topless if they would like.  They follow no one's rules especially because they do not believe in lifeguards either.
4. Everyone is working, but no one is working.
5. The country tries to squeeze every last penny out of its inhabitants.  If you go on the autostrada (the major highway) you HAVE to pay.  Even if you are only on the road for 30 km, you will pay about 10 euro just for using their road.
6.  The police are non-existent.  No one worries about speeding because there is never any cops on the road.  We live about 50 yards from the Carabinieri (Police) and I have seen about ten cops since I have been here.
7. At restaurants, they will tell you how much you owe, and you will pay it.  There is no itemized list to make sure that they have charged you correctly, and the same goes for restaurants and markets.  Unless it is a chain store, you will pay what they tell you that you owe.
8. Stores open when they open.
9. Italians stare and they do not say 'ciao.'  It is just accepted that if you look different or unique or American, they will stare at you.  And it is not normal to say hello to strangers.  Staring is the normal thing.
10. There is no such thing as customer service.  If you end up getting what you wanted (no matter how long it took, or how much it cost, or where you had to go, or what they did wrong) then you were given good service.

I think in general, I have learned and am still learning that the Italians do things the way they want when they feel like it.  The thing I miss most about America right now is the accountability--both professionally and personally.

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