Living in Italy
In my village, it feels as if everything has stood still in the last hundred years. People harvest the earth, trees, vines and have many pets. My neighbor necked and picked four hens one weekend, after having spent the week harvesting 250 olivetrees. I myself would like to wring another neighbor’s rooster, which starts to ‘sing’ at five o’clock in the morning…
Everyone is helpful, and finds it exciting and even a bit exotic with us northerners. When I moved into my house, it took just half an hour before the first neighbor came to welcome me, in Italian of course. And one day, there was a liter of freshly squeezed olive oil on the stairs.
The lifestyle is Carpe Diem, seize the day. Everyone talks with everyone, but very little about work. Rather about the family and dinners to enjoy. If you meet someone in the street, you can’t hurry on, that would be impolite. You chat for a while, salute, and walk on. In the day there are two highlights, Pranzo – lunch, and Cena – dinner. Does it hit so exchanged are not always precise time. It divides the days before and after lunch.
Relationships are important. Make sure to go to the local shop and bar, over and over again. Suddenly, you are a regular visitors, and they happily greet you. It is polite to know people’s names, in general everyone is very polite. Talk about yourself, where you live and who you are, and you will get tenfold in return.
You can live in a tranquil way in the country, and take your car or bike to the nearest town with shops and bars, or you can stay right in a town or a larger village. If you choose the latter, of course you will be closer to the restaurants and bars. In the summer, many bars host concerts and exhibitions.
All towns and larger villages have a Festa or Sagra every summer. You sit outdoors and enyoy local cuisine, often four days in a row. All are inspired by the Siena Palio, with the famous horse race around the square, Il Campo. Each part of Siena, Contrada, participates with their horse. The horses are blessed before the race. The race is very tough, and often horses and riders fall in dramatic ways. The Palio has been ridden bareback every summer since the Middle Ages. Each city now has its own Palio, with a medieval parade. Often with some sort of competition, for example archery or rowing.
When I moved here three years ago, I could not speak Italian at all. Now I get by and can communicate quite well. I have learnt by trying to communicate with my neighbors and builders, always with my dictionary safely in my pocket. After a year I started a language-course in Citta della Pieve, and I wish I had done it earlier getting help with sorting out the Italian grammar really made me pick up speed. Some constructions are easy to use, suddenly I am no longer speaking in the present tense. Although the Italian lifestyle always lives for the future. Carpe Diem!