Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I miss you Italy, but I don't miss your toilets.

I'm stealing the title of my blog entry from a friend's facebook post after she came to visit me last spring.  As I am getting ready to leave I feel like it sums up my love/hate relationship with Italy.  I've decided to make a top 10 list (5 things I'll miss, 5 things I won't) to sum up life here the past 2 years.   I've had a running list of the pros and cons since last summer, but have narrowed it down and am surprised that it was actually hard to come up with 5 of each.  

Here are the things I will most miss:

1.  Wine, vino, vin.  I love Italian wine.  I love the reds, the whites, the stills, the sparklings.  I love them all!  I didn't even know there were so many choices until I moved here.  Italy is close to France, Spain, and Germany so you can still find excellent imports but the local wines from vinotecas are just as tasty.  I love taking my bottles to the wine shop and having them fill it up with a bubbly chardonnay.  (Did you even know there was such a thing?!)  Bubbly, chilled reds are amazing.  And my new go-to is Muscato. Perfect, chilled, sweet summer wine. 

2.  Cappuccino.  Yes, it has finally happened.  I. Drink. Coffee.  I know it isn't straight up or espresso or anything, but it is still coffee and I am drinking it.  Enjoying it even!  So, I will seriously miss sitting outside in various towns and in the cafe below my apartment enjoying leisurely mornings with coffee and book in hand.  I'll even miss the 35-cent vending machine cappuccino I willingly get many mornings at work.   

3.  Pizza or gelato.  I haven't decided which I'll miss more.  Probably gelato because it is sweet and light and refreshing and I could probably eat it every day in the summer.  Or maybe pizza.  From Napoli.  It's so simple and tasty and you can get it without cheese (marinara) or with cheese and vegetables (Ortolana/Vegetariana).  No, I'll just miss them both a lot.

4.  The kids in my classes.  I try not to write about work often, but I really love the kids at my school. They are so innocent and adorable and say things like "Mama Mia!"  They make my job worth it every day.  I love these kids and will be so sad to leave them!  

5.  Finally, the travel.  I came over here because I have the travel bug.  I haven't completely worked it out of my system but it has been placated for a while.  I will miss taking weekend trips to Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria and the like or week-long trips to places like Morocco, Amsterdam and Paris, or London and Budapest.  I'll miss traveling around Italy even more, if that's even possible.  I loved the beaches, the history, the art.  Florence, Rome,  Bergamo, Verona, Vicenza, the list goes on.  There are so many places that are amazing to see in Italy.  

That kind of brings me to my things I won't miss list however.  Even though I didn't put it on the list, the town where I live probably should be on there.  Neither Milan nor Opera have the charm of other Italian towns and cities but there are things I dislike here even more than my (literal) stinkhole of a town.  Here they are:

1.  Mufferless motorcycles/bikes!  This was the thing that immediately popped into my mind while making this list.  I'm not sure why it is cooler for Italians to have motorcycles without mufflers, but it boils my blood.  In general, Italians are loud and I just assume this is part of the loud culture but living on a busy street I would love to hurl rocks at the jerks who drive up and down as loud as they can (especially at 11pm or midnight or 2 am).  I hate this.

2.  Public napkins.  I know this is a strange one, but it was almost number 1.  Probably it would have been if I had written this in the winter when my windows are closed and I can't hear motorcycles as well.  I cannot stand the napkins you get places here.  If it isn't someone's house or a sit-down restaurant, you get a piece of wax paper that just spreads the mess around and does nothing to clean up.  Gelaterias are the worst!  You have a sticky glob running down your arm or face and the wax paper just smears it across your skin, making everything sticky including the napkins which leaks onto your other hand or dress or skirt or...  You get the picture.  Next time you go to a doughnut shop and use a wax paper to get the doughnut be glad you also get a napkin for wiping your mouth.

3.  Healthcare.  This is a tricky one because there are some things I really like about the healthcare here.  Medicine is amazingly cheap.  Doctors have walk-in hours.  ER visits are really cheap.  I also can't tell if I would dislike it less if I spoke more Italian.  However, there is an amazing amount of bureaucracy in healthcare here.  The number of doctors you have to go to for bloodwork and the number of stops at various locations (doctor, doctor, lab, lab, doctor) you have to make are pretty impressive.  Going to the hospital was a scary experience.  I had to have an MRI but despite having an appointment I also had to take a number at every single counter along the way (3 I think!) to make it to the actual MRI.  Another time I walked in on my orthopedist with another patient. Whoops!  The ER doctor didn't believe I was having a kidney stone despite my rather painful history and thought I had pulled a back muscle.  I'm pretty sure he was (luckily not literally) dead wrong.  

4.  Buying things.  Again, this one is tricky because I actually do like buying things.  It is just so hard to do here.  It's like they try to make it as difficult as possible every chance they have.  The cell phone was a nightmare.  I never did buy a TV.  I have skipped medicine because the pharmacies close from 12:30-3 everyday.  You can now shop on Sundays, but that has changed just since I moved here.  The street markets in bigger cities and towns are fun but in towns like where I live, they are generally pretty lousy and sell things that have probably been stolen or are illegal in some way.  Despite it all, I have made a pretty good effort to buy as much as I can while I've been here.  

5.  Public transportation.  It is so crazy here in Milan.  Tourists are not allowed.  (Not really, but you might as well just assume it.)  Buying tickets is so confusing.  What zone?  Where do you buy them? (At any tabacchi.)  Where are you going?  The metro has a map in the cars, but on many of the trams and buses they do not have any kind of map and do not announce (or announce loudly enough) where you stopping.  It is kind of a crapshoot and insanely frustrating when trying to get around an unknown part of town.  The main trains (Trenitalia) go along with that.  Buying tickets is really hard.  You need an Italian credit card and you can't buy tickets to another country from your computer.  Italo trains are great but don't go many places so you are stuck with the tricky one.  Argh!  

Overall, it has been an incredible two years.  The things that bug me are primarily quality of life irritations, not life or death problems.  I can't believe I made it and I can't believe I am leaving either.  I certainly won't miss the public toilets but Italy, I will miss you.            

No comments:

Post a Comment