There are plenty of perks to living in London: a job (which is probably why 13,000 Italians permanently moved to the UK in 2013), free museums, good music, and nice pubs, to name a few.
But after more than three years of living abroad, there are some things I still miss dearly about my home country, Italy.
Here is my top list:
Let’s be clear: sliced bread is not bread. Anything that comes in a plastic package cannot be called bread.
Until a few years ago, you had to go to a fancy bakery in Kensington or Richmond to find some decent dough in London. Now, partly thanks to an influx of hipsters with a taste for artisanal foods, you can find some ciabatta in places like Borough Market or Shoreditch. But still, nothing compares to what’s available in Italy.
Italians know they can find a quick snack in any panetteria, whether it’s a focaccia, a slice of pizza, or a quick pane e Nutella. Beat that, Greggs.
In Italy, swearing is not a bad habit, it is a form of art.
Every region has its own way of expressing anger and frustration.
Tuscany and Veneto have particularly colourful swear words, but try telling that to a Roman, or a Napolitan, and I don’t know how they might react.
Nothing beats a two-minute long rant when something goes wrong (especially if you’re behind the car wheel).
Any Italian will probably tell you that the coffee is better down there. The truth is, London’s coffee isn’t too bad, but you have to know where to find it. The fact that you have to look for good coffee is annoying (plus it’s often overpriced).
In Italy, it’s possible to have a good quality espresso anywhere in town and be charged no more than €1 (70 pence).
When I’m in Italy, if I meet a person on street, we get a coffee. It costs hardly anything and it takes about two minutes to make. Speed is as important as cost: if you ever have a chance, drop down to Milan’s subway for a cappuccino, they are known to be the best in the country (and hardly anyone waits more than 90 seconds before walking out — and probably swearing loudly).
Italians are masters at killing time, which comes under the NSFW name of cazzeggio (literally: f***ing around).
In any bar at any time of day, you will find a couple sharing a glass of wine or a quick espresso. Try visiting a rural village on a weekend — you’ll quickly learn it’s hard to find a place for a snack because everything is closed and nobody is working.
As Italians, we often are mocked for low-productivity, long resting hours, and endless chatting. Many ask: “How can you have all shops closed from 1 to 3 p.m. for lunch breaks? Don’t do people work?”
Well, we do work. We just take our time.
For a man who was born in the Alps, Britain is incredibly flat.
It has great, wild landscapes, but nothing to rival the majesty of the Dolomiti (pictured above).
Living in London, you learn to appreciate the tranquillity of the England’s South Downs for a one-day jaunt, but I will save my best trekking for when I go back to my hometown.
British radio has a lot to learn from their Italian counterparts.
Although Britain has better taste for music, Italy leads the way when it comes to comedy.
Commuters listen to their favourite comedy radio shows with the same passion that TV audience’s have toward “Game of Thrones.”
If you speak the language, Sei Uno Zero on Radio 2 is a must.
7. Making time for meals and rest.
In Italy, timing is important, and it must always be respected.
People have lunch around 1 p.m. They dine in the evening. Mornings and afternoons are for work. The night is for fun and rest.
It’s rare an Italian will skip a meal because they “are not hungry.” If you it’s time for dinner, you will have dinner — no matter what your stomach says.
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