As I was walking down the street today at 3:34pm, I had a sudden epiphany. I think they call it divine inspiration, which makes sense, as I had just passed a cafe and its warm, inviting smells wafted over to me, which probably brought me to a higher plane. Unfortunately, once inside, said cafe had zero baked goods to offer my hungry, starving college girl self. I couldn’t understand it- how could cafes just stop… making food? Isn’t everyone’s point in life to please me? Shouldn’t whatever I want be available at all hours of the day no matter how ridiculous my desires turn out to be? This would never happen in America! DUNKIN DONUTS WOULD NEVER DISAPPOINT ME LIKE THIS.
But then, as usual, I realized that I was a study abroad student and have absolutely no right to tell people how to live their lives just because their practices are different from what I’m used to.
Here are five things sane Italians would never do and subsequently, I always do.
1. Order a cornetto after 11 a.m.
I don’t know why this is even a thing that is accepted here, since cornettos are delicious and I am convinced that if everyone just took a moment to chill out and eat a pastry every day, the world would be a better place. But alas, these Italian croissants are apparently strictly breakfast options- I guess that’s why the economy’s so down these days.
2. Order a cappuccino after 4 p.m.
Whatever. Just, whatever.
3. Respond in Italian whenever a foreigner speaks to them in Italian.
I try, okay? I really do. Every time I go to a restaurant, every time I buy a metro pass, or even when I remember to order a bloody cornetto before noon (virtually the easiest thing to say! It’s just one word! How do they KNOW?!) . But for whatever reason, as soon as an accent is detected, there’s no stopping it- most Italians will just begin talking in English to you. I guess it makes sense- it certainly wastes a lot of time to go back and forth trying to communicate when people are hurrying places. And sometimes it seems like they actually like practicing their English this way. But all I’m saying is, it’s really tough to talk to a five year old who has better English skills than I do at my present age. And I’m an English major. It’s embarrassing. Sometimes it even verges on the absurd- going to a restaurant and asking where the bathroom is is a particularly touchy subject.
Me: Dov’e il bagno?
Waiter: Down the stairs to the left.
Me: *blinks* Oh. Grazie.
Waiter: You’re welcome.
4. As a male, get caught outside wearing sweatpants past the age of fifteen.
I’m actually totally fine with that.
5. Care at all about what everyone thinks.
The Italian is characterized by their complete inability to give a #$% about what everyone thinks. It’s both the greatest and most terrifying thing ever. Terrifying because it is literally okay to have a five minute-long argument in the middle of the street about whether or not your chihuahua caused a pubescent moped driver to crash into the display window at Zara (a surprisingly common debate around the Corso avenue). Great because… well, you can live your life with no limitations except your own. Granted, the concept of bella figura (the unspoken rule to keep yourself looking presentable and unsloppy anytime you’re out in public) is still very much present, but that philosophy applies more to your own opinion of yourself than keeping up with anyone’s standards. Bella figura is more about being the best version of yourself out there, and that includes making your own decisions about when the hell you want to eat a cornetto, or standing up for your chihuahua when his honor has been insulted.
So if you’re going to learn anything about doing like the Romans do, or whatever, keep this in mind: they do whatever the hell they want. Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense, and sometimes the implications of living such a life for the next couple months might make you want to punch the nearest living thing in the face- that’s okay. Remember that so long as you don’t kill anyone or blast Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in the Metro (both equal deservants of capital punishment, in my opinion) you are your own judge in how to live your life. So take a cue from sixty million Romans, and just live. It hasn’t killed anyone yet.