Here in Italy they have a word to describe pretty much anything that’s over the top, exaggerated, ridiculous, etc. It’s “americanata.” I guess you could translate that as “an americanism” but I’m not really sure. In any case, I first heard it when some Italians were describing an American action film, something along the lines of Die Hard. “It’s the usual americanata,” they said. It’s not a compliment. It kind of comes with this sort of nose-turned-up-”as if we would ever stoop to that level” kind of feel. But at the same time, I think there’s an underlying kind of but-we’d-never-admit-it admiration as well.
It’s ok. I’ve come to accept it.
Anyway, you get the idea.
Well, I’ve lived in Italy for a little while now (this is my 8th year) and I’m ready to unleash my list (completely partial and open to additions) of “italianate.” I’m just looking to collect in one place all of the beliefs that Italians have piled on me over the years, of things that I always used to do in the States but now, somehow, have suddenly become dangerous to my health, or worse, *gasp* — even life-threatening.
My husband throws italianate at me so often, that he now says before I even get a chance, “I know, it’s an Italianata…. but it’s true!” I know other expats have expounded on this topic before, but I’m going through a period where I’m being particularly bombarded with them and just can’t take it anymore. You be the judge.
1. Air conditioning “fa male.” It’s just generally “bad for you.”
How did I live nearly three years in Phoenix, Arizona, without dying? (Italians are so attached to this one, I’ve no doubt I’ll get at least a few angry comments telling me that it does “FA MALE” and explaining all the reasons why. I give up.)
There’s a whole encyclopedia of italianate on sweating. If you sweat, you have to change clothes before it evaporates or you can get pneumonia. Don’t stand in front of a fan if you’ve been sweating. God forbid the air conditioner.
3. Wet hair.
Not using a hair dryer can cause any number of ailments, not the least of which is a migraine in the exact spot where you neglected to dry your hair. However, for example, when my husband didn’t dry his hair thoroughly the other day and I pointed out this grave error, he merely laughed and said, “But it’s summer, that’s different.” Doh!
4. Eating and exposure to any body of water for any indefinable amount of time afterwards.
Yes, in the States I learned not to go swimming for a half hour after eating because it could cause a cramp and I could drown. Fine. But here I’ve heard so much as not taking a bath or shower for hours after eating. Inexplicable.
Don’t even get me started! This is the only place I’ve seen where there are literally hundreds of commercials a day espousing the trials and tribulations of how constipated women are, then showing how some kind of yogurt can cure the problem, with all manner of arrows and dots drawn in the intestinal region of the outline of a human body. Is it really that Italian women are more constipated? Or do they just talk about it more? Boh. Who knows. The secret ingredient is something that the company refers to as “Bifidus ActiRegularus.” Latin-sounding=quasi-medical sounding=will cure you when you’re feeling a “little bloated” as the poor woman in the commericial explains.
There are tons of italianate regarding digestion. Discuss.
6. Drafts/breezes from the window.
All’s I’m gonna say is, don’t you go standing near one. It could kill you. Or do something bad. I haven’t quite managed to figure out exactly what yet. But just avoid the “correnti d’aria” and you should be ok.
7. Cold/wet feet=sore throat.
No comment, it’s just that.
I think that’s all I want to go off on for today. But I know there are many more. Feel free to add to the list.