Becoming Bold and Italic… collectively.

This week, a group of us stranieri pazzi expatriate bloggers here in Italy have decided to join forces and tackle a common subject:

Stuff we didn’t do before moving to Italy.

Not only have we all become BOLD BLOGGERS, airing our expat/immigrant issues for the world to read… but we’re also collectively becoming ITALIC, or Italianized, if you will. Every once in a while we’ll catch ourselves doing that thing that we laughed our heads off about when we first arrived in Italy.

the allure of the bidetWhy ON EARTH would someone wear a scarf in summer?! Why THE HECK do people think it’s ok to ask me about my bowel movements?! And please tell me what that THING is next to your toilet that keeps shooting out water at me.


In addressing this hilarious subject, may I please present our fearless team. As each of our posts is published on our sites, I’ll include a link directly to the correct article. My take on the Italianization situation is below the bios…

MinitalyMe. Hi. You know me. Here’s my bio: ‘M’ is a 30-something (something low) American Texpat, living and working in her husband’s tiny hometown in the province of Reggio Emilia. Her blog, Married to Italy, is home to her rants and raves and serves as her therapeutic search for hilarity amongst the chaos. (Read my article here on this page, below the bios: “Becoming Bold and Italic.”)

M. Elizabeth Evans of 'Surviving Italy'

M. Elizabeth Evans of ‘Surviving in Italy – an American expat trapped between two worlds with her badass husband, his chest hair, and their poodle. She is a writer and partner of House Of Ossimori. Her award-winning blog Surviving In Italy, aims to honestly portray her life in Italy, the sober times, the drunken times, the yelling, food, family, and on occasion her obsession with the majestic Capybara. She’s also terrible at writing Bios. Someone do it for her next time, okay? (Read her article here: “Before I moved to Italy I was normal.“)

Rick Zullo - Ricks RomeRick Zullo of ‘Rick’s Rome – an American expat living in Rome. Born in Chicago and raised in Florida, he came to the Caput Mundi in 2010 and forgot to go back. When he’s not exploring his adoptive hometown or writing for his blog, he spends his time teaching the world English, one Roman at a time. Rick is also the author of the silly little eBook, “Live Like an Italian,” available on Amazon. (Read his article here: Italian Habits I Used to Think Were Strange).

Georgette JupeGeorgette of ‘Girl in Florence – an American social media strategist, copywriter, blogger and a certifiable ‘Tuscan Texan’ living and breathing all things Florence. Social inside and out, she lives in the moment and eats way too much pasta. She blogs about life in Italy, travel around Europe {and the world}. (Read her article here: Things I didn’t do Before Coming to Italy.)



Becoming bold and Italic.

When you first move to Italy, everything is new, strange, and somewhat exotic. As an outsider you notice things to which locals don’t give a second thought. You think to yourself,

“Ha! I don’t care how long I live in this country. There is no way in HELL I’m ever doing THAT!”

Fast forward 5+ years and you don’t even remember what those exotic things were, much less find them strange.

I actually really struggled today to sort through my daily life and try to recognize habits that I have picked up that friends back in Texas would find odd. In fact, I called one of those friends to ask her what I do now that’s weird. I also asked my mom. The results of my little research project were fascinating, hopefully not only for me, but also for you.

Many of the things listed are somewhat predictable, while others were a bit of a surprise for me to hear about myself… but all true!

1. I wear a scarf now when it’s breezy. I still haven’t picked up the summer scarf habit of most Italians, but relative to my previous life (in which I didn’t even OWN a scarf) I’m much more “Italian” now.

2. I judge my friends for incorrectly pairing wine and food. I can’t help it. I don’t mean to, but now that I’ve been shown the light… how could you possibly drink white wine with a burger?!

3. I’m a more aggressive driver. My mom said I scared her last time I was home when I reminded her that “lanes are merely suggested paths”.

4. I’m more aggressive in general. I’ve learned that in order to get my point across here, it requires a certain passion in my voice… which must be carrying over to my English now. Oh no!

5. I’ve lost English words and started inventing hybrid phrases. I just can’t think of an English phrase that adequately satisfies me as much as “basta with romping my palles, per favoooore!

6. I find it acceptable to update friends and family on the status of my digestive system and menstrual cycle… two bits of information that, as it turns out, Americans have no desire to know, yet Italians find to be acceptable table talk.

7. I’m so italianized that I’m bored by certain types of pasta. And it really bugs me when the sauce is not selected with the form of the pasta noodle in mind. I blame my marito for that one.

8. I can’t drink American coffee anymore. It tastes like the expelled version of espresso after the digestive scenario that you don’t want to hear about.

9. I store everything in jars. Everything. Sauces, vegetables, spices, cookies, whatever. Screw zip-lock baggies. Jars are easier to wash and reuse. Why on earth did I ever think zip-locks were a good thing?

10. I’ve become even more obsessed with food. I was always a food person, but here it’s a pathology. See my post called “I remember when eating was fun” for more on that.

11. I am much more reliant on La Famiglia. I’ve always been independent, and I really really REALLY struggled with submitting to the system of discussing everything with La Famiglia. Yet this morning my marito pointed out that it was I, not he, who suggested that we run something past his parents… just in case.


So there it is. As the years pass I am picking up these strange habits without even being aware of them. Ask me to make this list again in another 5 years!

Are you an expat or immigrant? What weird local habits have you picked up that you never thought you would?


28 thoughts on “Becoming Bold and Italic… collectively.

  1. YES, I absolutely loved reading your post, I feel the same way about well… everything! Pasta noodles for a specific pasta sauce, the over reliance on the Italian (ex for me) family, being aggressive, storing everything in jars. Seriously someone coming to my house might think an oncoming apolcalypse was about to occure! Great post my fellow Texana!

    • It was hard to think of stuff, but since I wrote that I keep thinking of more… like why on EARTH do I pour beer in a glass now?! What IS that? In fact… when I go back to Texas this year… I’m gonna drink a whole beer RIGHT OUTTA THE BOTTLE. Watch me. It’s on.

  2. Pingback: Things I didn’t do before coming to Italy | Girl in Florence

  3. #7: Ask my girlfriend Alison 🙂

    As you know, I am in the opposite camp: italian expatriate first to the USA and now to the Netherlands. Let me think of a few habits (and there are many) that I drastically changed or adopted and I’ll get back to you 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Before I Moved To Italy I Was “Normal” | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  6. Ah! I forgot some of these! I do almost all of it except for the American coffee. I know this is terrible but I’ve never been a fan of Espresso shots. Capucc yes, but a tiny thimble of caffeine no. I still like a big ass cup of coffee that I can parade around with me all day. It’s a comfort thing. I laughed out loud about the digestive/period thing. That is my in-laws 100%. They LOVE to talk about their digestive system and they try to talk about mine but I just say I don’t understand and walk away. I’m holding out on these two things. The period talk doesn’t bother me though. I have no problem telling everyone that my uterus is trying to murder me. Thanks Italy 😉 I could have also added, “Peeing in public” to that list.

    • yeah the main problem I have with the espresso shots here is that… contrary to what foreigners are led to believe… it’s actually quite difficult to find a GOOD espresso. They usually come out burnt and toxic.

      Um. You pee in public?

      • I’m not sure if it’s just a Florence thing but yes, I have more than a few times. But I’m not the only one. When I’m out with Florentine friends they’ll run down an alley to pee as well. It’s because there is a lot of drinking in the street but very few bathrooms that are available. Loads of people simply drink at the park but after a bottle of wine or a few cocktails, where do you go? LOL

        • That’s awesome. I think if someone did that here in my small town, some lady with a broom would be after them in a heartbeat. 🙂

  7. Oh, La Famiglia! I’m someone who started boarding school aged 8 (before anyone gasps in horror, I loved it, and couldn’t wait to go) and has always been independent. I dunno – I probably speak to my family more now that I live in a foreign country than I did when I was just living in a different city, but we still only speak when we have something to say. And that might be every day for a week, or it might not be for a month. We’re pretty laissez-faire that way. But the Sicilian side of the family – oh my god! My boyfriend’s currently working abroad, but he still calls up his brother to give me lifts, even when I’ve said I don’t need them. As he put it: “You’re part of the family now.” The scariest thing is, though, that I’m getting comfortably accustomed to it. The assimilation has begun. 😉

    • haha, uh oh, be ware! Before you know it you’ll start expecting the lifts from your own family… “those unhelpful laissez-faire people… mutter mutter” 🙂

  8. Glad I found your blog, this is hilarious! Greetings from an american expat married to an egyptian, living and blogging aboht life in rural egypt! ;^)

  9. Wow, you have really nailed it. I am such a hybrid mess now. My American family can hardly stand the way I speak now– really loudly, really fast and I gesticulate way too much. My husband says I am destroying my three children’s linguistic ability by speaking a weird messed-up hybrid like “googliamo that” or “hai sniffato il basilico.” And yes, there are so many things like”rompering le palle” that just work better in Italian than in English. I’ve written about of the other stuff too in my blog — I now love the bidet and use it for everything from foot-washing to clothe-washing. I was always a scarf person, but since moving to Italy, I’ve stopped wearing sneakers — just seems to American. Thanks for the great post.

    • YES! I have also stopped wearing sneakers. Ha. Didn’t even notice until you said that, though.

      The funny thing is that I’m going back to the States next week and they were the first thing I packed.

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  12. What a fun post! Really enjoyed reading this 🙂 And it made me think about what I do now that I wouldn’t have done 10 years ago before moving from Germany to Texas. Two that stand out? I am weirdly comfortable with small talk with random strangers. I really enjoy Tex-Mex which I couldn’t haven even imagined even 4 years ago.

  13. Ciao! I’m so happy to have found your blog. I am an Indiana girl recently transplanted in rural Romagna. I have been scouring the internet for kindred souls with whom to commiserate. I too am “married to Italy” and trying to find my place in this new culture. The summer scarf comment made me laugh, as I have already learned (the hard way) to bundle up when leaving the house just in case my in-laws see me and gasp, “non hai freddo??!?!?!” no matter how warm and pleasant the temperature may be. I’m already a fully faithful consumer of at least 3 shots of espresso a day, and I can’t imagine ever living without a bidet in my bathroom. Now I am going to catch up on some more of your blog entries to gain an idea of what other transitions may be in store for my fast-approaching future as an Italian moglie 🙂

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