Friday, 24 June 2011

A nice day with friends

An old school friend of mine, N, who moved to France with her family some years ago, has started a blog which makes all sorts of comparisons between her new life in France and that in the UK. She came to the conclusion that for the children lots of things were much better in France. I wanted to do the same and thought I’d start by listing all of the things that I liked about living in Italy.
The list started like this
a)      The weather is nice.
b)      The food is OK.
c)      The scenery is incredible
d)     And then I got a bit stuck….

I decided to ask my husband who, being Italian was sure would have a much longer list. ‘It’s very beautiful,’ he said. ‘The food is great. The weather’s nice too…’ Yeah OK, I’m sure given a few beers he would have got a bit deeper. So, today during a very nice lunch with of some of my best friends, I decided to interview them for my blog. …I ought to explain that thanks to Saint John the Baptist who, due to a series of coincidences too long to go into right here and now, is celebrated on 24th June and who is also the patron Saint of Genoa, we were all on holiday today. (Most towns adopt a patron saint whose feast day falls in the middle of the summer which I’m sure is so they can have an extra day at the beach).

So, the interview:
M, is originally from Genoa but for the past 10 years has lived between Holland and Germany. She says, “In Italy the food’s nice, it’s very sunny and beautiful…” OK so what does she like about living in Germany compared to Italy? Here the answer was a bit more original. “If you have a problem and you complain about it you know that it will be taken seriously and someone will do their best to resolve that problem. Things work and if they don’t people will make sure they soon do. In Italy you always feel that someone’s trying to rip you off.”
It’s true. People don’t trust each other here and it sometimes makes you doubt the authenticity of their Italian Charm School diploma. They often scowl if you say good morning, are suspicious if you open the door for them and look the other way if you smiled so as to avoid having to smile back. It’s almost as if it costs money to be civil and in these times of economic crisis it’s not hard to understand why…

Then I asked F, who is M’s brother. “What do you like about living in Italy?” He shuffled around on his sun filled garden bench and replied with “Anyone want a coffee?”
“Come on, Vicky asked you a question. It’s for her blog.”
“Coffee no? Grappa then?” We had the distinct impression that F didn’t want to answer the question. If he reads this he can write it in the comments section :)

J (M’s husband) comes from Mexico, is a frequent visitor to Italy but also currently lives in Germany. “J cosa ti piace della vita italiana?” He told us that he finds life in Germany very ‘individualista’. You have to be independent and solve your problems by yourself. You need to understand how things work and get them done. I wonder what Germans would do if they had problems here?!

After this, it was very hot and so me and M had a water fight with the children in the garden. I was winning as I had an enormous glass bottle which I kept filling from the tap. They only had silly little plastic cups and weren’t very good at throwing anyway. It wasn’t until my best shot with the glass bottle passed a little too close to poor little Eve’s forehead and cracked it open that I realised it was probably time to stop drinking grappa, start acting like a responsible parent and just go to the beach. It was after all San Giovanni Battista and if you can’t go to the beach then when on earth can you??