Italianate

4 Jun

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.
SUVs?
Americanate.
Triple cheeseburgers?
Americanate.

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.)

2. Sweating.

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.

5. Digestion.

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.

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57 Responses to “Italianate”

  1. SWT June 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm #

    Love your list! It’s all so true and you learn to just smile politely…grin and bear it because trying to reason with most Italians on these subjects isn’t possible. Don’t know if you have children but the fights with the suocera over these subjects can get really intense until you learn to hold your tongue, smile politely and just let the kids run and sweat!

  2. Dee June 4, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    Hilarious! Glad to see your blogging again. :)

  3. Barbara June 4, 2008 at 6:29 pm #

    How about driving with the window open…even when it’s 100 degrees outside? And yes, the list goes on and on…thank goodness I don’t have any Italian relatives to argue about all this stuff!

  4. erin June 4, 2008 at 8:53 pm #

    i’m so glad you are writing again b/c I love reading your posts. This one had me laughing the whole time.

  5. finnyknits June 4, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    The wet hair thing is also a favorite of my Jewish grandma’s. Oh, and also if you eat the crust of the bread your hair will curl.

    Whatever.

    What about the eat white rice when sick thing? That’s my favorite italianata so far. I like that there are regional divergences for the same malady. Like how we eat saltines and drink 7up if our stomach is upset, rather than eating white rice.

  6. Jennifer H. June 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    I see that exact same Dannon yogurt commercial in America with the same, as you put it “Latin-sounding=quasi-medical sounding”,ingredient. The rest of it is in English, or course. :P

  7. anna l'americana June 4, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    Ah, what memories. It all dates back to the Caesars, I think, because it was the same list when I lived there 25 yrs ago – except the yogurt in #5 – that’s just recent marketing. Like Jennifer says, we have it here too. Endless commercials about yogurts with fiber or bowel activating cultures. We need another category: Americanate. Italianate. And now: Vendinate – as in made up in the marketing dept. as opposed to made up in nonna’s head to get the kids to….(eat, sleep, stop sweating – so they didn’t have to do laundry so often I think – etc.).

    My favorite Italianata was the NON SUDARE!!! (don’t sweat!!!) that mothers would scream at their kids when sending them off to the churchyard to play soccer wrapped in 30,000 layers of clothes (cannottiera, sotto-maglia, camicia, maglia, maglione, giubbotto, etc.). When the kids would come back sweaty, off would come mamma’s sciavatta (mule) which was then thrown at the poor kid with laser-like accuracy with the command “bring it back”. Not to worry, the kids were always quick enough to dodge the slipper.

    Adding to your list: “il fegato” (your liver) which anything deemed “bad” for you would be bound to agitate; and the obsession with suppositories in lieu of pills – anything from digestive aids to chemotherapy was given this way. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT (pardon my pun)? And of course, the idea that Americans have no cuisine – which you expats are busy rectifying right now with the “La Buona Cucina Americana” series. Now if only we can get some of those “old wives” and MILs to read the posts……….

  8. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy June 4, 2008 at 11:22 pm #

    I think I have been here too long though…I am starting to nod my head in agreement with some of them! ACK! Save me. :D

    What about…mixing orange juice and milk? As in, drinking them in close approximation could create indigestion. Like…um, every American breakfast cereal commercial we’ve ever seen? There’s been both a glass of milk and orange juice! :)

  9. Rose in Cali June 5, 2008 at 1:25 am #

    All of these “Italianate” I heard growing up, but my brother and I considered them to be old Filipino wives’ tales. A huge sin was to go to sleep with wet hair. Maybe it’s just an old world thing that lives on in some places.

  10. L Michelle June 5, 2008 at 3:49 am #

    You made me laugh so hard today!!! My bedroom in my Rome apartment had a ceiling fan (on year round), an air conditioner, and another fan beside my bed. There were also fans in every room (including the bathroom) and another air conditioner in the living room. You can imagine what any Italian said when they saw all that! They were simply amazed that I was still alive and well. When they were moving me out in the middle of the hottest part of July, the movers refused to go in the bedroom if the air conditioner or fans were on for fear of “fa male!” The looks on their faces every time they passed a blowing fan were priceless. I know they thought I was trying to kill them. Since I knew the Italian landlady would take out the ceiling fan (which I had purchased), I gave it to my maid (a non-Italian) who was ecstatic to receive it. I love air conditioning!

  11. nyc/caribbean ragazza June 5, 2008 at 6:29 am #

    This is so funny. Like Rose in Cali, I heard all of these from my Caribbean parents.

    I have no AC in my apt. It’s going to be a very hot summer for me. :(

  12. bleeding espresso June 5, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    Um, like Sara, I think I’m starting to fall victim to some of these…yikes!

    I think the aversion to drinking milk in general is the one I least agree with…I’m a milk drinker dammit, and I am not ashamed (or a person with digestive problems)!

  13. Gil June 5, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    Too funny! A lot of what you listed I heard as a kid from my Grandparents, except my Maternal Grandfather who loved A/C after my parents bought him his first one. The next year he bought a bigger one to “cool the whole apartment”!

  14. Gracie June 5, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    I’m italian so maybe I’m a little weak on this case, but…
    1 – never dry your hair, and maybe at 47 (my age) a little “cervicale” can occur to you
    2 – sweat heavily and dry yourself before a fan, maybe only once but chances are you really can get a cough or a cold
    3 – try to eat normally when stomach-sick and then tell me if you’d prefer instead some white rice.
    Just stating my case, I know some of the things you listed are old-fashioned, but in some of them ther’s a hint of truth.
    And just in case you wondered, your list made me laugh, it’s not offensive in any way, it’s just (as you said) the counterpart of what we call “americanate”.

  15. Stacy June 5, 2008 at 7:25 pm #

    That is SO FREAKING TRUE. lucky for me, my Italian has Americanized those Italian things – he loves air conditioning, fans, etc. His parents on the other hand… well let’s just say it is shocking that I’ve lived this long since I don’t dry my hair immediately and walk around in bare feet.

    I wonder though, if you become immune to some of these things like bacteria. It seems my Italian got sick a lot when he moved to the US, then cleared up – but got sick again when he went back to Italy for an extended amount of time?

  16. ilva June 5, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    Oh yes, these are true italianate but I have to point out that no 7 IS actually true, there is a link between feet and throat, I learnt in my native Sweden where we are REALLY rational, a doctor told me that. the feet stuff, not that we are really rational

  17. collette~all over the map June 6, 2008 at 1:59 am #

    My grandfather was Hungarian and I heard the same things growing up, especially about the “draft”. Geesh, I mean we never could get past that one. “Put something on, you’ll catch cold. Cover yourself up. Don’t stand in front of the fan.” Mind you, these were said when it was summer in California.
    What is it about the draft and air con? I think they take it to the extreme. Air conditioning/fan when it’s the dead of summer is not bad for you. The only thing I can say that we know is of sound medical advice is that yes it is true you can fall ill and your immune system is weakened when your body temperature drops but the use of air conditioning or a fan in warm weather is not going to do that. My goodness!
    Good to see you posting again.

  18. Zhu June 6, 2008 at 3:30 am #

    Very similar to France! Or maybe it’s because I’m part Italian…!

    Funny that French don’t have an “americana” world as well. Cause they think the same. But even Canadians do. We always say “oh, that’s the USA, ya know…eh”.

    Anyway, yeah, Italians and French love commercials about yogurt and how they help constipation. I know…

  19. Nella June 6, 2008 at 4:12 am #

    Ok, this relates to Italians’ obsession with food order. These examples come from 2 other blogs.

    Reboot made an American pasta dish with CHICKEN IN IT. Her husband picked out all the chicken and ate it later. As secondo. Arggghhh!

    Italian Trivia- Their young son, 2 at the time, wanted to try some of daddy’s potatoes. But daddy would not let him, because he had not finished his pasta. Of course, he has to finish his primo before he can have some secondo. Lunacy I tell you!

  20. Beth June 6, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    I did not realize you were back. I just read everything you’ve posted since your hiatus.
    Re: italianata and aria condizionata. I have an Italian friend whose face has recently been paralyzed by ac.
    And you did not mention the need for a scarf from September to June to prevent sore throat–I guess you are thinking about summer.
    What about checking the wine for the percent of alcohol…over 12% is deadly.

  21. Man of Roma June 7, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    Ah ah ahah…..I loved this list a lot, and the comments too. I am still laughing, and, I’ll admit, all is unfortunately true. I’ll say, as a possible explanation (and consolation) that the almost never-ending beautiful climate here can be a factor (together with the mamma mia thing?), making us less hardy. After all, I’ve seen here black people from Africa wearing sweaters during late spring, so, all seems relative. Mamma and food obsession being though absolute and unique? Well, so hard to say …

  22. kataroma June 7, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    Hah! Good for you with your italianate. Unfortunately for me some of them are also netherlandsate (hollandate?) because my Dutch husband and I have learnt the hard way to never discuss the dangers of air conditioning or colpe d’aria (drafts). We have this “discussion” every summer when I want to put on the A/C in our living room or sleep with a fan. But maybe after 20 years here he’s just absorbed Italian ways.

    What I don’t get is how come so many Italians have air conditioning if air conditioning “fa male”? YOu see ads everywhere and many homes these days are Arctic all summer.

  23. Man of Roma June 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    @Kataroma
    Well, as a Roman and Italian I have A/C and I ADORE it! I think many Italians bought it – me included – after there were a couple of exceptionally hot summers. It was not so widespread here as it always has been in the USA. But Italians, if they can, they prefer a natural temperature …

  24. chris June 8, 2008 at 3:17 am #

    Italianate #10: “Let it breath”
    My husband who is Itailian, (im american) is constantly putting shoes in the window sill to breath. But it does not stop at shoes, everything has to breath. he opens the windows year round at least a crack, it doesnt matter if the AC is on or the heat on the coldest day of the year. he is always airing out garments and shoes religiously.

    Italianate #11: “a sta ora?” “at this hour?”
    There is always a certain time of day that calls for certain type of activity, (including bathroom behavior – that I wont mention details). For exapmle, of course eating/drinking certain things at the wrong time of day is a crime – cappuccino after 10am!? Dinner before 8pm?! Leftovers for breakfast oh my god! Also there is a time of day that would be wrong to clean the house ect…

    Italianate #12: Digestion (another take)
    It seems, when in Italy, there is always an excuse to have a grappa or even gelato, to help aid in digestion after dinner. Ive have never heard so many things that aid in digestion as I do when I am in Italy..

  25. Cyn June 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    YOU GO GIRL! This post made me laugh out loud! I knew before I pushed the you tube “play” button that I was about to see an ad for Activia! EVERY TIME I see that blond haired woman, I have to ask “Why is she so worried about everyones bathroom problems?

    This is the fun thing about living in (and being married to) another culture, we can laugh at BOTH cultures.

    Time to go, I’ve got a spaghetti western to watch!

  26. Rachele June 9, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    I am with you on the Italianta!!!! I am also bombarded with those comments at least 3 times a week. My fave thing, if an Italian gets even the slightest cold or ache…in the hospital for a check…then they have the ever-curing “breath machine”. I am sure many of you are familiar with it. You break these STINKY sulfer viles and pour the smelly liquid into this machine, turn it on and put this mask over your face for 20 minutes. I can’t help but laugh EVERY TIME!!!! che ridicolo!!!!

  27. Marcie June 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm #

    Totally unrelated question–is there still a Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group in Trastevere on Saturdays? I’m going to be in Rome for a month and would love to meet up with fellow knitters!

  28. Brendan June 10, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    When my small town Italian girlfriend’s mother came to the US and saw all of those Americans wearing shorts and t-shirts and not using umbrellas in rainy 60degF weather she kept repeating “don’t they know that they are all going to be sick?”. The fact that there were so many of them disobeying this fundamental Italian guideline, and that she could not say anything to them to save their lives, almost caused her to have a heart attack. She still talks about today, almost 2 years after the fact.

  29. amanda@A Tuscan View June 10, 2008 at 9:45 pm #

    This whole post and all the comments are so funny!
    I must admit I’m with the Italians on A/C, what’s wrong with opening the window as long as you don’t stand to near it you should be fine.

  30. sonyaustraliana June 13, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    Yes a very good post on Italianate. What I think is hilarious is that despite all these precautions, every second person you speak too has some type of ailment because they have been exposed to some evil draft etc. I love Italy but I will continue to walk around barefoot at home, go out with wet hair, drink icy cold water from the fridge and leave the gym ‘tutta sudata’!
    I think the more you try to protect yourself from extremes, the more susceptible you become.
    Might sound like a whacked theory but it’s worked for me!

  31. Graz June 17, 2008 at 9:32 pm #

    Is there anything you like about the Italians and their culture? Is this what you moved to Italy for? To make fun of things you find different? Your poor husband, married to a typical American!

  32. sonyaustraliana June 18, 2008 at 9:56 am #

    Graz what an awful thing to say! If you were a regular reader of Shelley’s blog you wouldn’t say such a hateful thing!!! Obviously you have misunderstood the context of this post and have chosen to make a comment which I think is inappropriate.
    Shelley I love your blog and please continue to post your insights on Italy and its culture.

  33. Graz June 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    sonyaustraliana, sadly I am not the one saying anything “hateful”. This blog has plenty of that already. I put a straight-foward question out there but instead of answering it intelligently, you chose to get defensive. Let’s get this one thing straight: I am greatly offended by people who move to Itay but criticize the culture so harshly. Comments on this site have gone far beyond mere observation This hurtful criticism is uncalled for. I did read this and came across plenty of mean words like “ridiculous” and “I had to laugh”. Let’s bring this closer to home for you: imagine you had a guest staying in your home and overheard the person laughed at how you run your household? I am positive that you would be immensely insulted.

  34. sonyaustraliana June 20, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    Graz I’m not sure if you are a native Italian or an expatriate yourself. I appreciate Shelley’s cultural observations and having been a reader of her blog for a quite a while now I would say that overall her blog gives a positive view of Italy and its culture. I think Graz you have misinterpreted the ‘tone’ of this post on ‘Italianate’. It doesn’t seem to me to be a personal attack on the Italian culture, but merely an observation on some cultural nuances that really do seem absurd to some expats.

    The most arrogant part of your comment was “Your poor husband, married to a typical American!” Who on earth are you to make such a judgement??? One can state their opinion and defend their view, but nasty comments like that aren’t called for.

  35. Antonina June 20, 2008 at 5:44 pm #

    When I read your blog I nearly peed my pants laughing.
    Here is why a few years ago I went back to Sicily for a visit hadn’t been back since I was 15 years old. I learned a lot of Italiasiams… my favorite was because I’m a blond and that my 76 old aunt read in a rag magazine that blond’s were being kidnapped left and right in Palermo that I was not allowed to even go to the tabbacino store alone,ever.
    Nor was I to sleep with the balcony doors open , I tried several times but each morning they were closed and locked in place the night fairy came in after I fell asleep.So the room was stuffy and hot…Oh Dio!

  36. karen cole June 20, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    Great post!!!

    How about when to wear white?

    I’ll be in your neck of the woods starting on Sunday am. Do you have any “do’s” for the next few days?

    Been there quite a few times. Just looking for something that’s only going on now.

    Thanks!

  37. Italianissima June 24, 2008 at 4:50 am #

    Shelley!!! This post is so great! Having just returned from 2 weeks in Italia my favorite one still is – Drinking cold water when it is hot outside will upset your stomach. Um, ok, nonna, whatever you say!!! Oh and I am 17 weeks pregnant so I won’t even go into the pregnancy Italianate!!
    I love your blog and your posts so keep em coming! Ciao bella!

  38. Dave - Roma June 24, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    If you drink cold Coke or beer during the summer (and especially during the winter) everyone expects you to fall over and die.

    Where I live soft drinks are not even put in
    the fridge when brought home from the store.
    Everyone just drinks them at room temperature.
    Why fight it? I just got used to drinking
    warm Coke.

    They also tend to leave the top loose after
    pouring a glass (gets rid of that nasty
    fizz)

  39. Christine June 25, 2008 at 1:35 am #

    Hahaha!
    I’m so glad I found your blog!!
    I’m off to read your other posts!
    Have a great week.
    ~Hello from the
    USA

  40. Cinzia June 26, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    I’m Italian and 49. As a teenager I was constantly refusing to subdue to my mom and nana’s “idiosincrasie”. Than when I became a mom too…well, I overdressed my poor son in winter until the pediatra didn’t convince me I was making him more sick by doing so. Yea, dressing him lighter made him healtier. Guess our houses and schools were not so overheated when I was a child.
    He’s now 21 and I gave in since he was in middle school: he doesn’t wear “maglia della salute” underwear t-shirt, he goes barefoot as soon as he can (summertime-marble floors u see), he doesn’t dry his hair after shower.I’d like to live long enough to see if he changes too with age and children.
    Oh well, I thought I was a modern woman LOL

    PS: what’s priceless? My husbands face when a friend from USA asked if we didn’t mind if he toof off his shoes in our flat (no A/C, LOL, only ceiling fans)

    Shelley one should write a book about the subject. U are great!

  41. Shelley June 26, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    Wow, thanks all for the great comments. Great discussion. Thanks for the defense on the “ugly American go home” comment. I’ve always been really careful with my observations to make sure I wasn’t the ungrateful expat. I also dislike expats who move here then bash the culture. I fully realize that if I don’t like it anymore I can go back to the States! Just some observations, no harm intended! (And my husband definitely realizes that he’s married to a “typical American” — part of why he loves me I’m sure!!)

  42. Janavi June 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    Graz-I’ve heard many Italiani making fun of Americani, & doing that eye rolling thing-it’s universal-lighten up!

  43. Lisa July 1, 2008 at 5:22 am #

    ahahah ! I absolutely loved this! Mostly because after living with 3 italian girls for the last 6 months at least everything on your list has come up once! For example it’s 90 degrees outside in Bologna, but since it’s still June we cannot turn the AC on in our room! We might die! 2. My roomate decided it was a good idea to exercise in our room and jog on a mat etc. Thats fine..but I really don’t like keeping the windows closed (I’d prefer ir my room didn’t smell like a locker room) BuT NO! I couldn’t open the window because she was sweating SUDATO!..ah dio mio! and 3. When I went to the salon to have my highlights done..it was necessary that I have my hair blow dried afterwards and that I pay 30 euros for it when I simply was going to go home and get a shower! No..I said i wanted to leave with wet hair! WET HAIR?! said the salon owner! is this a new american style…now i can say yes ..IT’S AMERICANATE!

  44. Becky July 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    Love the post and agree whole-heartedly. You’re missing one, however: “colpo del stomaco al freddo” or strike of the stomach from the cold!

    The gist is that one should ALWAYS cover the sensative stomach capillaries after having eaten because they are assisting in digestion. Should these tiny blood vessels be exposed to outside air (even summertime) for any period of time, you will cramp and thus be digestion inhibited. My boyfriend swears by this and will cover up with a tee-shirt. A tee shirt! I want to cry everytime I hear this one. There seems to be little faith in the human body’s ability to adjust. It’s amazing what the italian mother can perpetuate through the millenia. I blame them for the perpetuation of everything on this list. ;)

  45. Chetan July 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    Honey, you are right on!!!!! Loved your list and it is soooo true. I have lived in Avellino Italy for 17 years but am from VA…USA.
    Brava! I try to explain this to my friends in the States but they just do not get it. You have to see it…be it…experience it to believe it I guess.

  46. Miss Expatria July 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    During the heatwave of 2003, I searched far and wide and finally bought a fan. I was attached to it that summer. When I told my friends that I go home, get down to my underwear and sit in front of it the whole night, they gasped. YOU’LL CATCH PNEUMONIA!

  47. mentalmosaic July 5, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Amazing how deeply embedded this Italian cold-phobia is, isn’t it?

    I recently read that the word “influenza” has Italian origins, since they – surprise, surprise! – used to think that the illness was caused by the influence of cold air.

    You would not believe how many hand-me-down sweaters and coats were heaped on me last winter. They were soooooo worried I would be cold! And even though my hair air-dries in, say, 10 minutes, I am constantly scolded for not using a hair dryer. Well, excuse me for not wanting to blast a bunch of hot air at my face when the temperature is triple digits!

    Yesterday, my fiance’s mom came home. She’d been shopping and was proud to show us the brand new coat she’d bought – complete with a hood. I hope she’s planning a trip to Alaska, because I don’t know how she’ll ever where that coat around here without getting heat stroke…

  48. ipsissimus July 9, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    OMG! Too funny.

    Another thing I notice is that anytime I am with a bunch of Italians at work and we decide to do something social on the spur of the moment, one is suddenly sick. But, whereas in the US that is a not-so-subtle code for “I’m outta here,” the sick Italian comes along (!), and all the Italians (usually the women) in the group take turns ordering the appropriate remedy, fawning/nursing, etc. It’s always something pseudo-medical, e.g. “I’m peptic” or “I’m not breathing well” or “I have the chills.” And so, instead of continuing some stimulating conversation from work (I have a good job, it is stimulating), we all discuss home remedies. An Italiana I used to work with (an established senior professional in her field) said, “Every Italian woman is either a mother or could be; you have to know these things.”

    Also, my cleaning lady who comes in twice a week (she came with the apt) is constantly opening windows just a crack. She hides the AC remote, too. I wish I could get it to go lower than 16°.

    Loved reading the list. It’s a blast being an expat, even for a season at a time.

    BTW, they have the exact same “concerns” in Greece. Of course, Greece was part of the Venetian Empire for a while….

  49. Lucia July 10, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    Exactly what my mother says about wet hair and getting sick! In winter only of course. And to add to your list, when I swim in cold water, I will get La arthritis or arthreeti…or if I walk barefoot in the house in winter time, I’ll get…sigh.

  50. federico July 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm #

    ah ah so funny! it s true. my mother still says aria di fessura porta alla sepoltura even with 33 C’! must be psychological!

  51. André August 12, 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    Air-conditioning? Bad for your health? Puh-lease… I mean, it is in some ways but it is TOTALLY WORTH IT.

    Plus, those Activia yogurts are popular all over the world. It isn’t an Italian phenomenon. There are those ads in Latin America and most of Europe too.

  52. Kianna Morgan June 13, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    ha, this was hilarious! bravo, bravo sinorita! I was laughing so hard that it caused my friends to doubt my insanity. Italians may be very, let’s say, eccentric. But they are the most caring, loud, and passionate people you will ever hope to meet.

  53. irene August 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    My grandmother ALWAYS tell me all of this “Italianate” but I thought also american grandmother told so D: And, it’s true: we use a lot the word “Americanate” when we see an american film or hamburgers (I ‘ve eaten hamburger only twice in my life and I’m 16). I really enjoy to read how american people see us. It’s so funny! :D (sorry for bad english)

  54. Landlouper December 2, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Evidently Graz has never read Beppe Severgnini’s “Un Italiano in America” (I think the English title is “Ciao America: An Italian Discovers the U.S.”). My girlfriend’s family put me onto this one right away, and it’s a howl.

    It’s no longer in print, but you can find info about it at amazon.com. Here’s a link to the editorial reviews for the book.

  55. laura April 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    Just stumbled across your website…my husband and I lived in Lithuania for two years, and most of these are true there as well! Might just be a Europate? Anyway, love the blog.

  56. ambrosiana September 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    So so true! Great post! I am so with you in AC! Italians exaggerate on this matter! I have an Italian husband and I showed him your post and made fun of him! Oh! I forgot that they all complain about the famous “cervicale”! I love Italians and Italy as well, but one has to accept that when it comes down to your 10 points discussed, they ca really get into my nerves!

  57. Sarah May (@AntiquaTours) October 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Here is one, that is actually believed by women: If you have anal sex ith your boyfriend, you are still a virgin.

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