Have I become more Italian since I moved to Cittadella? Maybe. However, there are still certain behaviours that stand out to me either as really charming or perhaps not so much, but anyway as behaviours that I consider to be part of the Italian culture. I would like to point out though, that these are things that I’ve personally noted and they don’t constitute an absolute truth, but only my own truth.

1.Buying food
The time spent on buying food is incredible to me. The patience and the carefulness with which food items are being selected is something that surprises me every time I set foot in an Italian supermarket. They’re 100% correct to take such care of the quality of what they buy, but don’t underestimate a “quick” visit to the supermarket. “Quick” is likely to take you an hour anyway when you join Italians on their quest for food. You have to understand that not only the shape, size or colour of the tomato is important, but also in which part of Italy it was grown and which Italian company is selling it. God forbid, you support a company from the wrong region. If every food item is being treated as such, you understand that there is no such thing as a “quick” visit to the supermarket.

2.Jealous women
I think I’ve discussed jealousy in Italy before, but I’d like to focus on the jealousy of Italian women in particular (I want to stress that there are plenty who aren’t jealous at all, but.. no.. in general they’re jealous). I have the feeling that Italian women are more jealous than Italian men, and maybe for good reasons. But it’s not uncommon to see a fight between husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, where the man looks particularly guilty and the woman is not too shy to create an entire scene in public (so breaking up in public to avoid a scene is not an option with an Italian lady, and honestly, I kind of respect the Italian women for that. They set clear boundaries). It’s also not uncommon to see certain personal belongings finding their way on the street by being catapulted through a window and the man may or may not follow his personal belongings in a similar way. Looking at another woman can be enough to trigger this behaviour.

3.Female body parts and food
But maybe this is the real trigger for all the jealousy, because Italian men have a tendency to compare women’s body parts to the food they like the most. They can do it in a very poetic way, but when they describe another woman like this, instead of their own, jealousy might follow. For example, I have been told that I was a northern fruit that should ripen in the tropical southern sun (and this is the poetic, rather polite one). Other examples are that my breasts have been compared to juicy mozzarella, my thighs to prosciutto or some other kind of tasty meat. In conclusion, in the eyes of some Italian men, I have turned into pizza toppings.

4.Passion for life
All this attention to food, the jealousy, all of this shows an overwhelming amount of passion for life, for love and for food. Sometimes these passions get mixed and this doesn’t always have pretty results. There was a story in the newspaper some time ago (before covid, so it had nothing to do with pandemic frustrations) about a man who got beaten up by his wife. Apparently, while they were making love, he thought to pause for a moment and check, quite reasonably, the tomato sauce that had been stewing on the stove. This interruption of one passion by the other was not well received by the wife and she simply couldn’t accept the discontinuing of their love making. In short, she beat him up. Quite violently. Now, I don’t think this is a common occurence, but for some reason the story struck me as particularly Italian. Probably because Davide didn’t seem at all surprised by the account.

5.Dress to impress
I envy the Italians when it comes to this. Especially Italian women. They exude confidence in the way they dress and in the way they walk. They are formidable when they’re wearing high heels and they’re just as formidable when they wear sneakers. They have a sense of style that can’t be disputed. It’s elegant, it’s confident and it’s powerful. It’s as if Italians were born with a sense of fashion. They know what’s appropriate and they know what’s not and if you think it might be inappropriate, they pull it off anyway.

Even though it may be difficult for some to view all of this behaviour as charming, especially since we don’t and shouldn’t condone violence, I think it’s their passion to live their life to the fullest that can make us jealous from time to time and why I secretly, maybe not even so secretly, have a crush on this country.

From Italy with love,

Merel

p.s. I have to correct point 2 in which I state that Italian women seem more jealous than Italian men. Now that our neighbours have moved and the new neighbour could be a guy, I’m introduced to unknown depths of Italian male jealousy.