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Ten signs you’re slowly turning into an Italian

Whether you’re a regular here or landed on this page after looking for something fun to read, you clearly like Italy – I mean, you wouldn’t have googled something on the lines of “funny Italian things” or “Italian habits” otherwise, right?! Be aware that having a soft spot for Italy can be dangerous because you may find yourself turning into one of us in the long run: if you already have Italian blood running in your veins and witnessed first hand the joys and pains of growing up in an Italian family, then you probably’ re already more than half a way there.


Are you becoming Italian? (Paolo Margari/flickr)


Want to know how far into the process of turning into a fully fledged Italian you’re? Check lifeinitaly‘s own ten signs you’re, indeed, about to become one of us and see how many boxes you can tick off already.

In no specific order….


 1.You’re adamant that any liquid filling more than a “tazzina da caffé” is not coffee


This is the only coffee acceptable to you now (Geekr/flickr)


“Americanos, frappuccinos, brewed coffee? Nonsense! I’m a firm, firm believer that there’s no coffee other than espresso, the shorter the better. Of course, you can make exceptions for cappuccino and marocchino, but then, those are breakfast drinks and barely count as real coffees anyway.

Lattes don’t exist: what the heck’s a latte? Latte’s milk, and milk’s milk, not coffee. Macchiato’s ok, but let’s get things straight here: only a drop of textured milk, not a gallon of foam. And *of course* there’s a difference between macchiato caldo and macchiato freddo. D’uh.”

If you found yourself pontificating in a similar manner to friends or family, congratulations: you can tick your first box.


2. You no longer accept squared loaves as real bread

Your regular squared loaf (which personally I find pretty nice when it’s homemade, but I lived outside of Italy for 15 years, so I don’t really count) is no longer real bread in your eyes. You can only accept “pagnotte,” “sfilatini,”  “ciabatte” and “rosette.” No, square bread’s only good for ham and cheese toasts and to put mayo and tuna on for a quick aperitivo. No, no, no… not real bread at all.


3. Speaking of which: let me teach you about aperitivi…


Your love for Negroni is now undisputed (mariobonifacio/flickr)


The ritual of aperitivo‘ s been getting popular a bit all over the world, but you… you know there’s much more to it than prosecco and Aperol spritz, universally known symbols of aperitivi made in Italy. You now ask for Martini Bianco (sweet or dry) on ice with a slice of lemon and you can explain to any bartender how to make a perfect Negroni. You adviced your non-drinking friends in more than one occasion to try Sanbitter or Crodino, so much better than a fruit juice when poured on ice, in a large-bottomed glass.

And the food. The food! You no longer find chips and peanuts an acceptable option: think of insalata di riso, frittatine, pizzette, salatini and marinated olives… And if they bring bitesize samples of main dishes, even better. It’s all about quality and variety, when it comes to aperi-food. And you know it.


4. You no longer accept the idea of wearing sportswear outside the house or a gym

Sportswear, from sweatpants and white sneakers to brand-emblazoned hoodies and tank tops, is no longer an acceptable alternative to real clothing, unless you’re at the gym or the privacy of your own home, that is. You came to the conclusion that yes, what’s made for sport and exercise should be worn while doing sport and exercise or, if you wish, to relax at home, as there’s no denying the stuff’s super comfortable.

Horror of Horrors! though, if you see someone wearing tracksuits in the streets. It doesn’t matter how expensive they’re, you just… don’t do that. Sportswear outside the gym or the house cheapens you and makes you look like *insert non-politically correct blasphemy of your choice*. As you would never see a well behaved and educated person hanging around in Milan or Naples in gym gear – unless they’re at the gym – you long ago decided it was time to put an end to this most elusive and horrifying crime against style… (yes, but… sweatpants are so comfy!!! I’m Italian and I say it: they’re so comfy! Although.. yeah, I wouldn’t wear them outside the house).


5. You find yourself choosing small local stores rather than the supermarket for your shopping

Fruit and veg must come from the greengrocer’s, meat from the butcher’s and bread from the baker’s. Of course, you could get it all at the supermarket, but do you *really* know where it comes from?!  Plus now you’re on friendly terms with the girl at the cheesemonger’s and she knows how you like to use stracchino for your homemade pizza, so she always keeps you a pat. Baker’s bread keeps for longer and makes better sandwiches and the meat at the butcher –  whom you chose very, very carefully, making sure they source their meet locally because, hey! You don’t want to eat stuff that has been dead longer than your great grandma Sandra Jean – is organic. Also, the butcher knows exactly what you need for each occasion and how to cook it: seriously how can you beat that?

You, Sir or Madame, have become the equivalent of a typical Italian shopper. And also a bit of a food snob, but there’s nothing wrong with that.


6. You have to own expensive perfume or die


See? All originals (sunshinecity/flickr)


Yeah… knockoffs are a no-no. In Italy, if you wear cheap perfumes or imitations of expensive scents, you’re considered cheap and classless. Nothing against natural scents, organic stuff and all-natural cologne: these are all acceptable and can be nice. But when we need to take out the big guns, we Italians go down to the perfume store and pay good money and buy designer scents.

You know all this, too: no supermarket bought extra sweet and flowery (for women) or pine based (for men) concoctions or, even worst, the fake version of a timeless classic. You know the cheap version of an Acqua di Parma scent’s that: a cheap version of an Acqua di Parma scent. That’s it. Full stop. You have to buy the real thing. End of story.


7. You no longer accept shortcuts in the kitchen

Those already cut vegetables and ready made bread dough and sauces: nope.

You now make stuff from scratch when you’ve got the time and if you don’t have any, you just eat simpler, quicker things. “Authentic and fresh” is your mantra. You’re very likely the proud owner of a fresh pasta maker, have a cupboard full of dried herbs and canned tomatoes and have learnt to make your own pizza. Bicarbonate of soda, fresh rosemary, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil are always in your kitchen. If someone offers you lasagne with store bought bechamel sauce you eat it, but keep on wondering why they just couldn’t make it, as it only takes 2 minutes.

If you’re envited to a dinner party, you start planning what to bring 3 or 4 days before and cook like a storm throughout the 36 hours leading to it. Because cooking now’s your thing, ya’ know…


8. You became judgemental when people can’t coordinate colors

Italians have art in their genes and they certainly have a great taste when it comes to clothes (even though men today seem to dress a bit too much like teenagers, with all those tight jeans and low v-neck t-shirts. Also: they need to eat some good, old fashioned grandma’s grub, they start looking puny) and decorating.

Throughout the years, you became a fan of Italian style, hopefully bypassing the country’s least wearable options and focusing instead of timeless Italian fashion. If there’s something Italians taught you how to do is matching colors and you have no intention to turn your back on this incredibly fashion-essential quality.

Now that you’ve mastered the skill, you’ve also –alas!– become a serial criticizer of those who lack your knowledge of nuances’ balance with one another. Nothing rings more real to you than “finely color-coordinated means finely hearted.”


9. You know the meaning of the following terms or expressions and have begun considering using them in your daily conversations.

Apericena: an aperitivo served with copious amounts of aperitivo food (see above).

Abbiocco: “avere l’abbiocco” means feeling lethargic.

Fancazzista: someone who’s not fond of working, or fills people’s heads with lies.

Lavativo: fancazzista in a higher register, but also someone who has no shame.

Carlotta: a term borrowed from the slang of coming-of-age 1990s classic novel “Jack Frusciante è Uscito dal Gruppo,”  “la Carlotta” is an anonymous, often not particularly bright woman or girl, who dresses in mom jeans, bon-ton cardigans and rarely wears make up.

Intrippato: to be “intrippato” means to be obsessed with something.

“Perché no?”: the very essence of the Italian way of life, in a good and in a bad way. Rules can be bent because… why not?


10. You regularly make a Presepe in your home


Hang on.. Is that…that giant furry figurine from Naples, too? (paPisc/flickr)


The tree’s lovely, but you decided a while back a Presepe also needs a space in your home. Ah! All those lovely figurines! And the possibility to collect them and turn them in a heirloom for your kids! You like venturing into the woods to dig bags and bags of green moss to create the best looking field upon which set your nativity scene. You would love to invest in some collection pieces and you certainly have thought of visiting San Gregorio Armeno to get them.

Finding the right shiny blue, starred paper to create a lovely sky-like background is very important and those papier maché mountains have to be realistic, otherwise the scene is ruined. You got so into the whole Presepe thing, that you even leave some presents around it. Finding the right location for it in the house’s also essential: should it be near the tree? Under the tree? On the floor? On a table?… the dilemma presents itself every year, because your Presepe grows Christmas after Christmas and you have more and more figurines to find a place for…

Christmas’s hard work for an Italian!


Here, how many of these ten are you guilty of?

Sure, don’t take all this too seriously, there’s no offence intended in any of it… yet, you know, if your answer is yes to at least half of them, you should consider at least getting an Italian nickname!

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