Looking Back

It’s the end of the year. Time to look back at what I’ve learnt over the past 12 months before setting some frankly impossible targets for the year ahead. The resolutions will come in Part 2 though, for now it’s time to take a look at what Italy has taught me this year…

1. To untrained English ears ‘Cane’ and ‘Carne’ sound exactly the same. To Italian ears they really don’t. On more than one occasion I’ve explained that my dog is tender and delicious and that my meat is really well-behaved. Not good.

Schnauzer Cherasco market Piemonte Langhe

Mmmm delicious!

2. You cannot teach Italian drivers to be more polite. I’ve spent the past year indicating at roundabouts, letting pedestrians cross at zebra crossings rather than accelerating towards them with my eyes closed, thanking anyone who gives way to me (ok, I’ve only had the opportunity to do this once), all in the hope that it might catch on. It hasn’t. They just stare at me like I’m the crazy one.

3. Never ask an Italian how they are, unless of course what you really want is their detailed medical history in which case, ask away.

4. The Italian countryside is full of scary animals. Before moving here I had a grape-tinted picture in my head of the Italian country idyll. That picture never once featured snakes, salamanders or scorpions. Admittedly, the scorpions are tiny, the snakes are, as far as we can tell, not of the poisonous variety, and the salamander was apparently a very rare sighting. Still, give me fat squirrels any day…

5. Piemonte wine doesn’t give you hangovers. My tests on this may not have been entirely scientific, but I’ve drunk a lot of it and I’ve not had a single hangover in 12 months. So, if you don’t want a hangover (and why would you want a hangover?) drink Piemonte wines!

Wine Novello tasting

The world’s healthiest wine…

6. If you can’t pronounce your Rs properly, Italians will think you’re a bit ‘special’, especially if you live near an area called Roero and your name’s Richard.

7. When you get a quote for any form of building work, in Italy it almost certainly won’t include the most important element. We have a quote for a swimming pool that doesn’t include digging the hole in the ground, a roof quote that includes everything except tiles, gutters and scaffolding and a quote for building a staircase that includes everything apart from building the staircase.

8. Not wearing enough clothes can kill you. As far as I’m aware, this is the only place in the world where the cold virus can be caught simply by not wrapping up warm and a draught can cripple a fully grown man. Be careful out there…

9. Italian burglars like Emmental.

10. For all its well-documented political and economic troubles, Italy is still a great country with wonderful people. Plus, where else can you ski, surf and then eat the best food in the world all in the same day? (Ok, probably quite a lot of places, but I still think it’s pretty cool!)

Walking Piemonte Barolo

What’s not to like?

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34 responses to “Looking Back

  1. You should have entered this in the Expat’s contest, it’s fabulous 🙂 For number 8, I read “burgers” instead of “burglars”. Don’t make any resolutions; in MM’s book, they’re a pile of poop 😀

  2. OMG! #7 still sends chills down my spine even after 4 years!!!! That, plus many of the quotes were on the backs of envelopes or scribbled on used (???!!!!) napkins after being ‘treated’ to lengthy (aka boozy!) lunches! NOTHING ever seemed to add up………..!

    As for #6, don’t worry! During my first week after emigrating from London to San Francisco, my American husband took me to a great local restaurant for dinner. I asked for a glass of water! War-ter, war-ter, war-ter……… Finally, husband to the rescue and I received my glass of ‘wodderrrr’!!!!

    Two nations divided by a common language!

    • Ha ha, the water one is hilarious. Whenever we’re in America my wife caves straight away and orders water in her best American accent. I prefer to stand firm, I’m stubborn like that, but they never have a clue what I’m saying!

      As for the builders, I’m glad to hear it’s not just us. Our current record is three months to fill in half a Computo Metrico, and even then most of the figures just say “in economia”!

  3. I just love your run down of the last year. I had a a good laugh and thought how alike it is to my years in Vanuatu. Here everything is on Island time. No one is ever on time. Most things are an easy fix and have to be re done almost as soon as they are finished the first time. The big plus is that the people are always smiling and so am I at being able to live in this Island Paradise. I have loved keeping up with your blog. I wish you and your family a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

    Val Smith in Port Vila Vanuatu.

    • That sounds wonderful! I guess everywhere has its frustrations, but so long as you love the place, it’s worth putting up with them in order to live there.

      If you ever need a house sitter, just let me know! 🙂

      And a happy new year to you too!

  4. Happy New Year to you and your family! I wish you continuing fabulous adventures in Italy and keep us updated, I love your blog! 🙂
    Andrea

    Ps. Hungarians also think that you can catch a cold from not wrapping up properly, if you go outside with wet hair, if you’re not wearing slippers at home or if your T-shirt is not tucked into your trousers and your waist is on show… weird…

  5. Happy New Year!
    Great post, you have learn’t quite a few things this past year. Love the wet hair…..I get looked at like I am killing my kids when they turn up to school with damp hair and in only a t shirt under their jacket. The joys of Italy, you have to love it.
    We were up in your neck of the woods and I loved it, the mountains are breathtaking and I was seeing them from Turin so you must love waking up to them where you are. I also consumed quite a bit of local wine and agree, it is very good for you :). Have a fabulous 2014 with all your new beginnings with your family.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed Turin, I think it’s a great city, and really underrated. I love the photos you posted on your blog. And I’m pleased you enjoyed the local wine too!! Happy new year!

  6. It’s hard to get ski and surf together in the same day, it’s true.

    Actually, I would like to see an exhaustive list of places where I can ski and surf on the same day. All those places sound awesome already, even though I don’t yet know what they’re called, let alone anything else about them. Especially since so far I can’t surf at all, so anywhere I could surf would be pretty special on that count alone.

    Happy New Year and thanks for the tip on Piemonte, although I’m still wondering how you can be *scared* of a non-venemous snake.

    • You got me, I’m a total wuss when it comes to snakes! Last time one slithered past me I nearly jumped out of my skin! I hear California’s good for skiing and surfing in the same day too, but Italy has better food..:-)

  7. Pingback: Pro-Retrospective 2013 | Journeys of the Fabulist·

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