This is what people usually think of when you tell them you are living in Italy. Ah….”Italy is so beautiful”, “Such great food”, “beautiful cities”, “great architecture”, ” so historical”….Is what you would usually hear. I am not out to put Italy down but just to make some comparisons with the other cities that I have lived in.
I totally agree that Italy is beautiful and has many architectural beauties and is so steeped in history it is every where you look. But like every country and everything there is 2 sides to it. When I first came here back in 2006, I never did before even when I was flying, I thought Italy is a 1st world country, while I am from a developing country, I expected a lot. What I found was disappointing, to say the least. They have many beautiful things but they are not organised well. I felt that I went back in time to a Malaysia of, at that time, 10-15 years ago. When I went to register after my wedding in 2007 to get a local Identity Card (IC), they gave me a paper IC that lasts for 5 years. So, I thought, since I am a foreigner they would require that I renew it every 5 years in accordance to my Permesso Soggiorno (Resident Permit) but it was the same for the Italians. I thought that was funny because, why in the world do you need to renew you Identity Card every 5 years unless you change you address? Aren’t you a citizen? What is the use of the IC then? I found out later the Social Security card is more important than an IC. An IC is useless unless you want to travel within Europe and you don’t have a passport. It is even more useless than a driving license which can be used as an ID. So, even if you lose the IC, it is no big deal. You are not really required to carry it around as long as you have a form of ID. Not like in Malaysia or even Singapore. Anyway, this not a big deal. Just something different. I could hardly find an internet cafe to connect with the rest of the world. Until recently maybe 2 years ago, the airports didn’t offer wifi nor any type of internet not plug points. Just fly into Germany and France you get connection though you have to pay for it. Things have moved on from then, Thank goodness! Either that or I am now more connected via my mobile operator I don’t feel the lack of it anymore.
Then came the food. Yes, the food is good. I put a freaking 10kgs in my FIRST 6 months in Italy. Another 5 in the subsequent years. I was so much slimmer when my husband met me. I am trying really hard to lose the weight now. You will occasionally read of my struggles here. 😛 But…after a while the food is the same wherever we go in Italy. Though, never bring this up to ANY Italians. I am not saying that their food is bad, it is good, but lack variety. I can’t imagine myself eating a croissant and having a cappucino or espresso in the morning as breakfast EVERYDAY. But for the Italians, that is breakfast EVERYDAY! I have taken to making my own breakfast at home whenever I can. My Asian side weeps for me… I dream of having a hot noodle soup today, and tomorrow a great big English breakfast, then nasi lemak the next day and a yummy huge ass LBT sandwich the day after. Even my parents lamented after just 1 week here and they still had a week more to go. Are we having pasta or pizza again today? Seafood or meat? Usually cooked the same way too. All I said to that was, welcome to my world! I LOVE food and I try anything before I say I don’t like and I am just limited here. Add to that, I live in Genoa where there are limited foreign restaurants. I know of a few Chinese and Japanese restaurants which are really good but only 1 Indonesian restaurant and 1 Mexican which I think is closed now. I saw a few African standing only food places that I want to try but M being M he is hard to convince. It took me 2 years to get him to eat tofu and that happened by chance in Tokyo where it was also his first time eating oxtail! Can you imagine that!! I have it good already cause I have a friend who is Malaysian and was married to a Sicilian who ONLY eats Sicilian and some Malaysian food cooked by her, while living in Genova!! I am not kidding!! He makes exceptions for pesto and foccacia which is what Genova is famous for. I miss variety!
So, I thought now that we are here in the “first” world things work a little faster right? nope! No such luck. Things are faster in Malaysia than here. We get can get our passports now in a day! Here they still need 2 weeks to a month or sometimes months. It helps if you know someone. Though our North-South highway took years to build and some of our highways in KL itself too a few years, nothing beats a stretch of highway from Salerno to Calabria that is taking (note the fact that I am saying “is taking”) 25 years and counting to be finished. AND…. not that they make one side and then start on the other. If you every have the chance to drive to Calabria, though I do not encourage you to especially in summer, you will find certain stretches are under construction on one side and then you get diverted to the other side of the road, then another 15kms down, you get diverted back and the scene repeats itself. Last summer we drove down to Calabria. It is usually a 12-14 hr drive with a few stops for lunch and dinner or coffee. We did 8 hours and reached a little after Naples and decided to rest for the day. Which we were lucky we did. The last 4 hr journey took us 8 hrs!! with traffic, diversion, 6 lanes becoming 2, 4 lanes becoming 2, bottle neck here and there under the hot scorching 38˙C sun!! It was no joke. This happens only in the south though, the road condition,I mean. Calabria operates on a totally different plane. Of course many factors come into play as we still hear of the mafia stronghold in the south and in Sicily. So, I don’t know if things are going to change any time soon. We can only hope.
If you are ever thinking of travelling in summer by plane try to avoid Rome Fiumicino or avoid at all cost a transit via Rome. 99% of the time, they lose your bags. Sometimes, even if you have a direct flight they STILL lose your bags. Tried and tested by yours truly. Bring only a carry on if you can and send your luggage ahead with other means. It happens rarely in Milan Malpensa. I don’t know why. They have changed the baggage handling company numerous times but it still happens. I don’t even experience this in Bangkok, even in the old Don Muang Airport! Actually in all my travels I experience it badly only once with other airports but ALWAYS when via Rome. It is like a 100% success rate of failure for them. Well, at least they are consistent that way.
I have a lot more to say but I guess it is enough for today. I love living here because there really is La Dolce Vita here but if you want to work, it is really difficult. I might explain that some day. Italy is ideal as a holiday destination. To enjoy that dolce vita I think I would have to make my living outside of Italy and come here to enjoy it. Besides Milan, possibly Turin and Rome, everywhere is like a retirement town. Slow and easy does it. Which is why it is called La Dolce Vita. Ah…the sweet life!
Will I get some backlash from this post? Who knows? Do Italians even read my blog? We’ll have to wait and see. Toodeloos!!