What I love about Italy

Since my seven weeks in Italy there are a few things I have fallen in love with about their culture and a few things that I have had a hard time adjusting too(well just one really). Here is a list of a few of those things.

1) The community/neighborhood: In Italy it is very common to see many of the same types of stores(small grocery stores, tabacchis, cafes, etc.) repeated block after block. The American in me first thought about how I just didn’t see how the storeowners could survive when people have so many options to choose from to buy the same type of product. But when I asked one of my Italian friends the first week I was here they explained to me that people in Italy are very tied to their neighborhood, so sure there may be a lot of similar stores very close but they choose to go to the one closest to where they live because they have relationships with the people. These stores are also quite more expensive than regular chain stores that may be less than a mile away, but people really enjoy the relationship and one on one service they have with the people who work at the local stores. I myself actually experienced this in the first neighborhood I lived in (I was in one of the larger apartments and they moved me to put a professor and there family in). I knew the owners of the café, the mini supermarket, and some of the bread/pastry shops in my neighborhood. I would have small conversations with them (as much as I could as I don’t speak too much Italian) and sometimes the café owner would even invite me in and give me a free cappuccino or espresso or the mini supermarket owner would give my roommates and I a free bag of grissini(famous bread in Italy) or chocolate.
2) Italians love their families: Sundays in Italy are typically considered family days. It is very common to spend the entire day with your family, and unlike in America, actually look forward to it. You might have a big dinner with your family and just sit around the house and talk or go to the local Piazza (like a square) and eat dinner there and take a walk along the river. Some of the students I know from school even designate certain weeknights to spend time with their brothers or sisters. This is something I really think America has strayed away from; as we get more and more busy spending time with family is put on the backburner. It seems a bit selfish to me in a since, and I’m not pointing any fingers because I definitely do it too, that any free time we do have it spent with friends or pretty much anything else.
3) Being Italian late: Italians are never on time. I am very OCD about time and being there when you say you are going to be. So this is something that has taken a lot to get used to, and I still really haven’t. It’s acceptable even at most work places to show up later than the time you were suppose to just because it’s part of the Italian culture to take your time and not be in a hurry- the very opposite of America.
4) The food: Food is a huge part of Italian culture. It’s not just that the food here is amazing (which, it is- I really don’t know how I’m going to be able to go back to America and eat Italian food there) and they take pride in it, but to them it’s a means of socialization and expressing their identities within Italy. It’s very common for dinners to last two or three hours because these are the times people socialize with one another, dinner more or less isn’t about the food but a means to be with people and have a good time. There are twenty different regions in Italy, each with their own types of foods they are known for so the types of food they cook, and how they cook them, really expresses their roots in the country.

My travels

Hi all,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted due partly to the fact that I’m always busy doing something over here and also because I moved into a new apartment that doesn’t have Wifi. And yes, I thought this was literally the end of the world, and still kind of do- it’s funny the things we take for granted back home. In this blog I’m just going to give you a recap of all the places I have visited thus far.

My school had a trip to the Italian Riviera planned for us (Genoa, Portofino, and Santa Margherita Ligure) and afterwards a few friends and I traveled to Cinque Terre. Both places were beautiful. The architecture of the cities, especially those of Cinque Terre made you (well at least me) stare in awe. They also had some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. My favorite part of the trip though was the hike between the first and second city of Cinque Terre, it took us a little over an hour, but the scenery along the way was well worth it.

The following weekend I traveled to a region of Italy called Sardegna and we stayed in a town named Cala Gonone. Sardegna is one of the two island regions of Italy, and unlike any other area I have been so far it wasn’t really as developed so we got to see a lot of the natural beauty of the land. It also wasn’t as touristy so it felt like a more authentic Italian experience. This trip was the only time I had problems travel wise, however. We misunderstood our program directors when they were telling us about when we could take copies of our passports instead of the real thing so we only brought a copy. I don’t know how they let us fly out of Milan without a passport, but they definitely weren’t going to let us fly back in until someone shipped us our passports. We actually had to go speak to the police in the airport and they made the people let us board our flight since the airline was the one who let us fly over there to begin with without physical copies.

The last weekend before the first session ended I went to Barcelona where parents of a friend I had met in the program were staying. We went to Las Ramblas and the beach of course, but a majority of the time we went sightseeing with her and her family. What was pretty cool about when we went was that it was two holidays for them- the beginning of summer and also their patron saints day so they had a huge celebration down by the beach with fireworks. It felt like the entire city must have been there and it was a very cool atmosphere.

My summer program is set up into two sessions, each lasting approximately five weeks with a week break in between. During the week break I traveled with a friend of mine I met in the program, Jessica, to three different countries in Europe: Greece, Turkey, and Belgium.

In Greece we first visited Heraklion, Crete. Our flight left around 6 am Friday morning from Milan, so we had to take the latest train from Torino to Milan which got us there at about 1am. Then, we had to wait two hours outside to take a bus to the Milan Bergamo airport, which takes about an hour. Our flight was two hours, and when we landed we had to take a three-hour bus ride to Heraklion. The bit of information before this was really pointless for you to read, but I think it helps to explain to you how much I hated airplanes/buses/trains by the end of the trip. We were literally using one or a combination of them every other day. In Heraklion we visited Knossos Palace. I actually remember learning about this place in my art history class my freshman year of college. It’s so strange seeing things you’ve read about or seen in a textbook in person, it puts things into a completely different context and I really think it helps you absorb the history more. We took a guided tour through it (as we did for all the other cities/monuments we visited on the trip) and learned some pretty cool things about the Minoan civilization. For example, the were the first people documented to ever have a flushing toilet and running water system, and the Aegean Sea is named after one of their myths involving the Minotaur.

After Heraklion we flew to Athens. I think it’s pretty obvious we visited the Acropolis, but on our tour we also had a guided walk around the city to some of the main government buildings and other monuments. What I thought was interesting is that we learned all the metro stations contain mini-museums of artifacts and remnants from the old city because they are really the only places in the city they have been able to dig into due to all the buildings and stuff that had already been built. I loved visiting the historical sites in Athens, but it was a little to touristy for my taste. Maybe that’s just because I’ve grown so accustomed to my home city where there are really no tourists and a majority of the population doesn’t speak English. Which to me really gives it an authentic feel, even if sometimes it’s hard to communicate with people or figure out things travel wise (I had the hardest time today at the train station because no one spoke English and ended up not getting the tickets I went for).

Next destination on our trip was Turkey. In Turkey, we visited the capital city, Istanbul. I would definitely classify it as one of the favorite places I have visited so far. It was very touristy like Athens, but it just had a completely different atmosphere. I learnt about Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in my art history class and always thought it would be amazing to be able to visit the museum and was ecstatic when Jessica said she would like to go to Turkey and visit it too. It was amazing to be able to see the architecture and mosaics of these two structures and to learn about them as well as the Muslim religion on our tour. We were even able to find a decent price on a hotel that was literally a few hundred meters away from the both. The first night we were there we sat on the rooftop for about an hour and just looked at the view and listened to the Muslim prayer call that rang throughout the city from various Mosques.

After Turkey we went to Brussels. In my opinion there honestly wasn’t much to see other than the Atomium and mannekan pis. Our reason for going to Brussels was more for the food- waffles, fries, and chocolate. I tasted some of the best waffles I’ve ever had there and we went on our own little chocolate tour of the city. Including the free sample pieces many stores gave to us (and they would literally give you a whole piece of chocolate, whichever kind you wanted) we tried about 40 different chocolates from 11 different chocolate shops. The last one we visited was most interesting, it was called zaabar, and they experimented with using spices to flavor chocolates. I tasted chocolate with juniper berries, curry, fennel, allspice, and many others I can’t recall. Most of them were gross, but it was definitely a cool experience. We also got to watch them demonstrate how they make their chocolates.

I have plans to travel to Prague next weekend, and I’m going to a US women’s Olympic soccer game the following weekend! I’m beyond excited about the latter and will definitely post something later about it.



I’ve almost been in Torino for two week, and it already feels like a lifetime. I’ve easily grown accustomed to the habits of the local people and I’m proud to say I can get almost anywhere (by walking mind you- people generally don’t use cars or anything here unless they are going to the complete other side of town because everything you need is so close) without having to look at the map. It’s sad to think that I only have about 9 more weeks left here… but enough of that.

I spent last weekend in Florence, and it truly made me appreciate the city I chose to study abroad in. Yes, Florence is absolutely beautiful and there are so many things to see but it is such a touristy town. I didn’t feel like I really got to interact with any of the locals and when I tried to speak in the little Italian I know from taking my class here all the people would just talk back to me in English. Torino is so different, it’s like a really authentic experience, many people know English, but many do not and unless you know basic Italian and some of their customs it’s hard to interact.

We visited the Academia Gallery, which among other things holds the Statue of David. He is absolutely breath taking; I literally stared in awe for about 5 minutes. We also walked up the Duomo- I think it is the hardest bit of exercise I had to do in my life… imagine walking up these stairs for literally twenty minutes straight with no break and the closer to the top you got the steeper they got.

I had my first cooking class today, and it’s objective for us is every lesson to learn to create a full Italian meal and learn what wines to pair with the food we eat. We made 4 antipasto’s, 2 pasta dishes, 1 dessert, and got to taste two different kinds of wine. It was absolutely amazing, but I literally ate as much as I normally eat in like three days. The recipes for everything we made were so fresh and simple(I don’t think any had more than 5 or 6 ingredients) and yet they tasted better than anything I’ve ever had in America.

This weekend I’m visiting the Italian Riviera (Genoa, Portofino, and Santa Margherita) as well as Cinque Terre, which I’m super excited about- I can’t wait to try the see food! I’ll make sure to post something about my experiences there.

Hi all,

I’ve only been in Torino, Italy for a few days now so this post won’t be too long but I wanted to share some of the things that I have experienced or noticed about Italy so far- and they are mostly random.

People don’t really smile. In America you might walk down the street and smile at someone passing you bye or say hi to a random person to be nice, here that is not the case.

Also the “personal bubble” most Americans are used to having doesn’t exist here. Since there are so many people it is common to literally be standing up on someone that you don’t even know (especially on the bus).

The food doesn’t contain preservatives so most Italians buy small amounts of food every few days- either at a supermarket or an open market in many of the cities piazzas. In the case of the open market, it is okay to just look at fruit and inspect it, but here you must where gloves to touch any of the produce or the owner will yell at you. They also don’t refrigerate eggs in stores, I had a hard time with this at first and refused to eat the eggs one of my roommates cooked but I finally gave in this morning at ate some. The gelato is amazing. I’ve only had two kinds so far- chocolate and straciatalle, but both were delicious. Surprisingly, chocolate is my favorite so far, and I hate chocolate ice cream from home.

Bars in Italy are also referred to as Cafés- so they have both alcohol and coffee type of drinks. People here take eating and drinking coffee very seriously because it is when they socialize. Meals may last for hours and the waiter will really only come to you when ask for them, and in most places you must ask for the check yourself. A kind of plus is that you do not have to tip as it is included in the price of the food.

That’s really all I can think of right now about Italian culture and it’s people. Torino is beautiful and located right next to the Po river (Fiume Po in Italian) and I’m already falling in love with it and the Italian lifestyle- although I don’t understand how Italians are not exhausted all the time because of all the walking they do around the town/how late they stay out every night of the week. My roommates and I take short naps everyday to maintain our energy. If New York is the city that never sleeps, I think Italy should be the country that never sleeps.

I’m going to Florence this coming weekend so I may post sometime next week about that! There was an earthquake that affected an area in between here and Florence though, so hopefully it doesn’t mess up my travel plans. Until Next time… Caio!