Did you get a bird’s eye view on Italy and its basic facts in preparation for the books set in Italy to take us all in a whirlwind trip around the country? And now is the time for the next part of our Flyaway Friday: Italy edition and for me this is the most anticipated part. I loved hearing about France from Marie and Finland from Jenny and that has hyped up my expectations.
I am so excited today to write today’s post as we have Camilla as our guest blogger from Italy under our Flyaway Friday feature. She is a straight shooter and her answers are not sugar coated. I loved reading them and learned so much about the country. I will hand it over to her.
Hello, I’m Camilla. A 24 years old Italian currently living in Rome. I’m a fashion student, a writer when find time and calm mind, warrior reader, your proud in plain sight but also in the closet ace girl. And your nice and bitter blogger at The Reader in the Attic.
1) What do you think is exotic about Italy?
You want me to be honest? That’s difficult. I always lived in Italy, every thing the culture is made of is normal and everyday thing.
Okay, one thing… is that every region of Italy has its own tradition. Carnival, for citing a well know Italian tradition, change very much in forms and traditions depending on where you are. Not everything is Venice’s Carnival.
There’s plenty of sweet (savoury recipes too) that have the same name but change part of their ingredients depending on the region. But also, some sweet, despite being made in the same region, change even from city to city. Sometime even from village to village, despite both places being quite near.
Same thing for dialects. I’ll make a real-life example. I’m born in Carrara, north of Tuscany, really near Liguria, and city of marble. It’s situated up in the mountains, while the zone at the sea is called Marina di Carrara. Both are really near, but their dialects are different and some food recipes too.
2) Will you tell us about Italy’s eating habits and its national cuisine?
Italians can start a war over food. And trust me when I say that, despite saying it with a smile and looking like they’re joking, the great majority of Italians despise the way people outside our country eat typical Italian food.
There are also some deeper social reasons (Italians think often that their culture is the better one, no matter how toxic), but it’s fun to have food discussion. Just recently, I told one of my fellow Italian friend that an American blogger asked me if we eat pasta Alfredo…. and we laughed a lot. No one in Italy eats this Alfredo thing, whatever it’s. A part of me dies every time I hear Alfredo something.
With the same blogger (we’re friends, I swear XD ) we also had interesting discussion about ice cream and gelato, and the great illusion that eating ice cream/gelato (the English translation of gelato is ice cream for Italians) in Italy doesn’t make it the Italian gelato everyone seems to dream of.
I think that is true that Italian kinda fall into the pasta stereotype. It’s also true that in certain families, houses, street, sometimes more rustic corners, people are gonna almost force feed you, drinking on vine, talking at really high voices, and spend entire hours at the table.
3) Tell us more about a typical day in Italy.
Well, I guess you wake up, goes to work or school or university, whatever you have to do. Then you eat something outside and go back to what you have to do. Or find a way to go back home. At night adults may not go out that often, but the young generation are easy to find outside. They don’t do anything particular, just stay in the same place for hours until the sun rise, drinking and smoking (boring, if you want my youngster opinion).
I think the week is kind of common, but it’s when Saturday and Sunday arrive that things change. People go around the city, shops a lot, go to some mall, bring the kids to the parks. Some people go to the church for the mass. Going to watch sport or reunite with fellow friends is also common.
During summer is typical to reach to sea, but to be honest depends a lot from where you live. Here in Rome you can do everything, the only problem maybe is that we don’t snow that often and the city get blocked.
(the image features a pic of a villa, the Casino of Bel Respiro, situated inside the park of Villa Doria Pamphili. Such place was once a park and hunt zone owned by the Pamphili family, and now it’s one of Rome bigger park. The villa is sually closed to public because it’s used as a government base)
4) Can you tell us about some of your unique customs and practices specific to Italy?
*start to go thought the list*
As I said, we have Carnival and I think we have a quite good number of our own unique Carnivals, different from the one of other nation. In Italy we have plenty of random festivities days because of some saint and our sort of Halloween, our day of the dead, is just about bringing flowers to the tombs. We have specific kind of sweet for some festivities.
Other things we do, that some people find strange, is that we kiss on the cheeks when we meet, or people shake their hands. Sometimes you bring little gift if you’re invited to someone house, but I think it’s a more education fact than an actual tradition. It’s not observed at all by many younger generations.
5) Which books / films in your opinion were very much true to the Italian culture?
I’m not a great film watcher, so I can’t give a good number of titles but I’ll say: films made by Italians.
They know their thing. We either have really useless romantic comedies, that heavily relies on gender stereotypes… and are actually quite painfully true when it comes to many relationships I’ve seen. Or are really obtuse. We have a real passion for idiotic film with extremely low and misogynist humour. Another thing that is not far away from Italian behaviour.
I may suggest you to check out things like Suburra or Gomorra, or old films about the fascism and such periods. These are quite truthful about Italy. Or any other film by an Italian that show some rural village or the rich part of the society.
Those are quite good indicators that you’re reaching for what can be the right film. So many Italians were really angry at films like La Grande Bellezza, because it painted a really decadent image of Italy, talking about the richer people.
But I’m a girl that kind of lived between the more common and everyday life of Italians and had the chance to slip into places represented in such film. So, yes, I can confirm that is kinda true in what it represents.
6) Tell us about some of the stereotypes about Italy as depicted in the media, books / film etc that annoy you.
One thing I say is that: stereotypes about Italians are false but also true at the same time. One part of me relate a lot when some POC talks about their family behaviour or mom way of being. That’s because is also typical Italian parent material.
On other sides, recently I was talking with a friend that read a book, in which the protagonist was all about how amazing was the Italian family she was with: those women that sang, dance and drink wine and her Italian lover who was a fervent feminist.
Oh, please… Italian party, we have loud voices and use a lot hand gestures. We drink and laugh, but is not like we jump on table and dance. We’re not that passionate, because the passion that is usually represented is straight up misogyny and possessive behaviour. Italian men are hardly feminists.
Italian are also shown as friendly and welcoming, and we can be. Some people will do everything to please you and treat like an actual human being. Some other people will open the door of their house while openly mocking you in term of gender, race, sexuality and disability. The same moment they are called out, they will tell they’re joking.
For Italians everything is a joke. So, even the warmest welcome can be not actually that nice. Italians, if they hate you, will heavily display that, from touching you without permission, to abusive behaviour, physically hitting and verbal assault.
Also, we have this horrible habit of using slurs of every type as common words. Do not let me start of bigotry, culture levels and such. Also, I think that people have this idea of mafia like another sort of thrilling thing to take inspiration from.
Mafia is a thing and is not nice at all to write book inspired by mafia system, describing it as “interesting and dashing”. It’s not. Mafia exist, is present, it’s deadly, kills tons of people every year, and terrorize the others.
It’s corruption and murder, that keeps growing in every part of the govern, even inside religion. It’s drug and human traffic. Do not let me start on the damage it does to younger generation. Every year we remember people killed by mafia, including whom that fought it. Who is alive, is currently forced to live under special condition, because they denounced the mafia system.
Basically, what people do with their mafia’s romanticized idea, is insulting and spitting on the dead.
7) What are your favorite fictional (bookish or otherwise) characters native to Italy?
That’s hard because I’m not exactly passionate about my country literature and work, while if I reach outside, like to US production, at beast I can find some mafia involved character. So, the answer is no one.
8) Tell us more about your national language. Teach us some very common words and few uncommon ones.
For this last answer I searched around the internet for finding some Italian words you people may find interesting, and I found this article and I found it too be behind silly. What is even sprezzatura? No one use it in common everyday language (at least in my zone). Same thing for impiraressa. And why would you need this world in English when you have words with the same exact meaning already?
Fascination with Italian language is.. strange.
But let me start with the uncommon, because it is much more easy that way. Mostly of our uncommon words, I think are from dialect. Romanaccio is the dialect of Rome and we have particular way to say things like yay, which is daje. Or when we want to say that we’re going to see at a certain hour, we say: ce vedemo a una certa.
One thing about my national language is that it’s really heavy and for saying a single thing, we take hours of our time. And also, verbs. So many verbs. We are also very vulgar, and swear words can be kinda incorporated in our language… despite having people who still react like touched by a bee if someone swears. Like, we can say easily sticazzi (literal translation is: these dicks) for meaning something that impressed us to what we don’t care at all.
Okay, few words that can help when you’re in Italy. If you want to say hello, go with ciao. Our good morning is Buongiorno. If you want to say good evening to someone or to pass a good night out, you said, respectively: buona sera or passate una buona serata. You want to wish a good night you will go with buona notte. Grazie and per favore are our ways to say thank you and please.
If you want to ask for things like breakfast, lunch and dinner, those are colazione, pranzo e cena. We also do a thing called meranda during the afternoon, when we eat a little things, usually sweet, and a drink.
We also take aperitivo or apericena. The first consist in drinking specific types of drinks along with savoury snacks, like potato chips, olives, peanuts… The apericena is kinda the same thing but with much more food, and is a mix between a dinner and an aperitivo.
Wow that is a lot of Italian for a day, I suppose. But again, we can always reach out to Camilla to ask for more help. You can contact her via.
Thanks a lot for agreeing to do this with me Camilla, once again. I love you!
You can read more posts and reviews of books set in Italy here.
I guess this is the end of this month’s travel, the Italian edition. I hope we will meet yet again next month with another country with its books, author and bloggers. I can’t wait!
Tell me what makes Italy such a romantic place to visit. Have you visited Italy? If so share your favorite Italian memory. Do you have any Italian stereotype that you would like to talk about? Let us chat.