As an expat, when you live in Italy, no matter how much you fight it, no matter how you cling to your cultural identity, you become a little bit Italian. Here are some signs you’ve been living in Italy too long.
1) Coffee is espresso
Once upon a time your morning jolt was a steaming hot mug of coffee, with cream or milk. No longer. Once you’ve gone to the dark side of coffee, you cannot come back. Do not underestimate the power of the dark side. That is, the intense, sweet, brutal little vice that is an espresso sweetened with cane sugar and drunk in three sips. You can keep your half-caff, tall flat white with vanilla, even if your name is written on the cup. Coffee, whether in the morning, or in the evening after dinner, a lovely shot of darkness. You know you’ve been living in Italy too long, when you have an espresso at home before you leave the house, an espresso in the café on the way to work and another with your colleagues before you sit down at your desk. That’s three coffees before you start work, and they wonder why the Italians are highly strung?
You know you’ve been in Italy too long when queuing means hovering around in a crowd with elbows out and a total disregard for the person standing next to you as you blatantly sidle your way in front of them. When you first arrived in Italy the sight of Italians jostling for position in a shapeless ‘queue’ filled you with dismay, now though, you have become one of them, you are ruthless. The others ‘shall not pass’. You no longer quietly go to the end of the queue to take you place, but instead simply appear in the middle and nonchalantly step in, starring straight ahead, apparently oblivious to any other people around you. If some calls you out on it, you just say “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise this was a queue!” and stay exactly where you are.
You know you’ve been in Italy too long when you start speaking English like a 14-year-old Italian student. When you want to tell someone ‘hang on, I’ll be with you in a minute’ and it comes out as ‘wait, I’m arriving’, or when, on the phone you tell some one you’ll be arriving ‘by feet’, maybe it’s time to brush up on your English, maybe you need lessons. You can give them to yourself, €20 per hour.
4) Personal administration
You know when you’ve been in Italy too long when you subconsciously group a number of different bureaucratic jobs together and take a day off work for ‘personal administration’. There’s a never-ending stream of Kafkaesque paperwork to do in Italy, and it’s always best to do it all together. This ‘personal administration’ includes going to the post office, a parallel universe, where the laws of time and space no longer apply, a scene painted by Dali, populated by the aged, where nothing is what it seems.
5) We all scream for ice cream
Once upon a time, if some one suggested, ‘Hey let’s meet, we can go for ice-cream’, my reply would have been, ‘No, because I’m not a 14-year-old girl’. Now however, I can meet my manly friends and we’ll go skipping off together to the ice-cream parlour, eyes shinning with anticipation as we decide on which combination flavours to choose and happily sit on a bench licking our cones and swinging our feet, like, em well, 14-year-old girls…
6) Sunglasses indoors
“There are two kinds of people who wear sunglasses indoors: Blind people and assholes,” said Larry David. Well call me a blind asshole then. The wearing of sunglasses is 40% to do with shading your eyes, and 60% wanting to have a good look at people, while avoiding eye contact, so why take the glasses off just because you’re indoors? The thing about living in Italy, is, almost anything goes, people are generally more concerned with how they look than how you do. It’s very easy to slip into the habit of hiding behind your shades in the summer, in some other countries though, it’s frowned upon.
The ‘Anglo-Saxon’ reserve goes out the window once you’ve been living in Italy too long. Once you were the master of the passive-aggressive, reason and rationale were your lord and master. Now, though, you’re in floods of tears at the drop of a hat because of your ‘feelings’. What are these strange and wonderful effects that seem to influence the way I behave beyond my control?
8) Parking on the footpath
You know you’ve been in Italy too long when you find yourself eyeing up that tiny square of space on the sidewalk between the litter bin and that ‘no parking sign’ as a parking space. You’ll have to reverse down 200 metres of footpath to get to it too.
9) Lunchtime tipple
You automatically order the house red at lunch, even if it’s a working lunch, because wine. You’re eating, so you have to drink wine, nobody will even look twice. Back home though, your colleagues would be making ‘drinky drinky motion’ behind your back.
When you first arrived in Italy, pasta was all the same, just different stuff. Now though, you’ll put quite a lot of thought into what type of pasta will go with what sauce. You’ll even consult your better half when you’re cooking, walking into the other room with a different bag of pasta in each hand, genuinely perplexed over which