I’m afraid I’ve become a little too Italian after eight years of living in Florence, Italy. I’m Dutch and we’re known for being fun, yet cold, extremely practical and straightforward (read: blunt). Italians are known for being warm, creative (a positive way to describe disorganised) with a great sense for aesthetics (they like fare una bella figura, making a good impression, over being sincere).
Although I love some of my Dutch qualities: serious work ethos, reliability, authenticity, go-getter mentality, I’m starting to embrace the Italian way of doing life more and more. And after eight years in, I really feel I’m becoming less Dutch and a little too Italian. This is how I noticed. I wonder if you can relate.
1. I can’t live without a bidet
Before moving here I honestly believed bidets were used to wash one’s feet in. Then I realised that it’s used to clean your intimate parts after having used the bathroom. Being used to this practice now I wonder how I ever lived without it. I swear by it and feel “dirty” when I’m in Holland and can’t wash myself properly. Thank God for wet wipes, I suppose.
“To use a bidet or to not use a bidet? That’s the question.” Shirley, yoga teacher, looking very serious and thinking: “Good point, Sophie, good point…”
Of course, we were talking about something way deeper at this The YES Woman meet up, but still, it shows how Italian I’ve become; speaking with gestures and all!
2. I cook my lunch
I remember visiting a French girlfriend of mine and seeing her cook our lunch. I asked her: “Don’t you think it’s a hassle to cook and then clean up after every frikkin’ lunch and dinner?” She looked at me as if she didn’t know what I was talking about. This was normal. In Italy this is normal too. In Holland we eat our peanut butter sandwich on our bike to save time. Enough said.
Now I enjoy pulling out pots and pans and cooking myself and my man a wonderful lunch with the pasta carefully weighed out (no more than 110 grams per person!) and some fresh veggies from the vendor down the street. Ah yes, and don’t forget the fresh basil and garlic and only two specific brands of tomato sauce are allowed.
3. I find men with shorts unstylish
When the sun comes out in Holland everyone dresses like they’re on holiday. “It’s sunny, it’s sunny! Soak it up!” I remember the male teachers at the school I used to teach at protesting that they couldn’t wear short trousers in class with hot weather. I totally agreed with them back then. Now I feel they look unstylish and would rather not see those white, hairy untrained polpacci (calves) all over the place.
Living in Italy makes you get used to the warm weather and you don’t necessarily feel the need to “walk around like you’re on the beach” (the way Italians see scarcely clad tourists flip-flopping around Florence). Covering up is more stylish than putting it all out there. Just so you know.
4. I openly show my affection
Hugging and touching people you love is easily seen as being a bit too much in Holland. I guess I really am Italian at heart and love cuddling, hugging, kissing and holding my man all the time; both in and out of the house. I also have a habit of closely hugging my girlfriends. I tell them how much I care for them and how important they are to me all the time. I just love spreading the love. In Holland people feel a bit awkward when I do this. Good thing I live here and not there.
5. I take my time
While efficiency is the main drive in Holland, savouring the moment is what makes Italy go round – slowly though. Here they take their time for lunch, they walk through the city centre at an incredibly slow pace, they endlessly chat with the shopkeeper, their neighbour, or a complete stranger.
There’s time for human interaction and enjoying whatever is happening in the moment; a beautiful meal, a delicious glass of wine, a romantic stroll in the moonlight. Yes, Italians are often late (so am I), but once you have them, they take all the time for you. I love that about Italians and I try to do that now too. No need to rush, let’s just be and enjoy the valuable time we have together, savouring the moment, cooking our lunch, taking time to show our affection, selecting our clothes with care and taking our time in the bathroom. Life as a semi-Italian is pretty good.
Love & courage,
P.S. Do you dream of becoming a little too Italian as well some day? Well, as a life coach. I help women take the leap to Italy! Feel free to find out more about what I do here and if it resonates, you can book a free discovery call here. Looking forward to hearing all about your Italian dream!