Moving to a new country is hard work. We all know that, even if my protestations about *anything* being difficult in, you know, small-town Tuscany, get short shrift. And it’s true, sometimes there is a reason a stereotype about a nation or nationality exists: from being welcomed immediately and unreservedly as part of the family, to having wine at every meal, to being told off by nonnas for not wearing a cardigan in spring at 20-degrees, some things are just truly Italian. So when IrisLillian.com asked me to share ten things about living in Italy, the list wasn’t that hard to conjure up – and they are (nearly) all from the first real summer I spent living here, two years ago.
- I woke up in a 1970s marble palace, with a pasta factory in the backyard, the night after a wedding. Yes, really. The four-year-old daughter of the bride and groom was eyeballing me and pulled me out of bed to feed me leftover wedding cake.
- I learnt to drive a scooter, or motorino. Despite being from Perth and having been to Bali this is not something I already knew how to do, much to the great surprise of my (then) boyfriend. The kids next door yelled ‘aiuto aiuto’(‘help, help’), while I wobbled and jerked my way to the end of the street. Once I got good enough I started riding up the mountain pass and into Lucca to go to language school. One day, halfway home, the ribbon around the middle of my dress came undone and it started flying up over my head. I was more concerned about my decency than not being able to see anything on the road.
- I walked into the main bar in town and the owner started calling me Megan Gale. He still does. That Omnitel ad campaign in the early 2000s was worth its weight in gold.
- I grew out of brand new Country Road size 6 jeans in about two weeks.
- I didn’t get my period for four months and genuinely wasn’t sure whether it was because of how much focaccia I was eating or whether I was actually pregnant (spoiler: it was the carbs). The local doctor very kindly suggested it was ‘stress’.
- I went to a family dinner of 40-plus people and stuffed myself silly on the antipasti course, forgetting that there were three more courses to come. Rookie error. There is *always* more (amazing) food coming.
- I spent Saturday night dining in tiny local restaurants in the mountains. Transport? Scooter (this time as a passenger), eyes closed, warm summer air whooshing past.
- I texted my boyfriend for the first time in Italian, rather than English, without thinking about it – a big deal for someone learning another language. I was inside a gelato shop, he was in the car waiting. The message: ‘There’s no Nutella gelato left’. I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I wanted to.
- I was woken up on Sunday morning by the church bells ringing in town. For a full half hour. Every half hour.
- I walked around the corner into my street eating a chunk of bread, ripped off the loaf I’d just bought. Ran straight into my mother-in-law who was riding her bike into town and couldn’t talk to her because my mouth was so full. (Ok, full disclosure: that one actually happened last week).
Have you experienced similar stereotypical situations on any of your travels?