Insider Tips for Surviving Italy #1

Every culture does things differently. It’s a fact.

Hey, even from family to family, customs and practices can vary widely. So, it’s actually no surprise at all that I found myself a little confused from time to time. There are many things that work the same between the USA and Italy, but then there are many things that don’t. I will help you navigate some of these cultural differences through what I hope will become a fun little series of survival tips.

I thought long and hard about the very first survival tip that I should offer to you. Would it be key Italian phrases? Navigating the complicated social codes? Fashion? Table manners? Geography? No, in the end, I decided that there was one thing that everyone should know before going to Italy.

And it’s towels.

You see, in the US, we normally find three sizes of towel in a typical bathroom.

 

USA towels

Going in ascending order, the smallest towel is the hand towel.  It’s for drying your hands after you wash them or even your face. The next largest towel is the bath towel and the largest is the bath sheet. The difference between the bath towel and the bath sheet, you ask. I have no idea.  All I know is that the bath sheet is really large and the bath towel is not as large.

You may be wondering why I’m going over the towels so carefully. Well, if you ever find yourself in an Italian house, this information may be very precious to you. The function of the towels are markedly different in Italy. Let me demonstrate with an image:

ITALY towels

You see!!! The smallest towel is not, in fact, a hand towel. It’s the BUTT towel! It’s for after using the bidet to wash your nether regions. You most definitely do not dry your hands on this towel and certainly not your face either. Luckily, it usually hangs over or near the bidet.

bidet towel.jpg

However, that is not ALWAYS the case. Occasionally, you’ll find it near or amongst the other towels. It may look innocent, but it’s not. It’s a dangerous little towel, so watch out.

Regarding the other towels, the medium sized towel is the hand towel which you would use to dry your hands. The giant towel is for after a shower. Those aren’t too complicated and if you mix them up, it’s not too big of a deal.

Hopefully this bit of information was useful to you. Thanks for reading!

A presto! See you soon!

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What I love about Firenze…

One of the things I love most about Florence are the dogs! That’s right, I said it. DOGGIES! And my very first post on this blog (that I’ve been meaning to start for a very long time) is about my favorite subject in the world: dogs.

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In Florence, the dogs go where the humans go. I see them everywhere. They accompany their humans to the shops, the market, the bank, the gelateria, to the hair salon, and sometimes even to work. Actually, there is no such thing as “dog friendly” here because everything is dog friendly. When we first moved here in December, we asked a bakery if we could pop in with our dog for a second and the lady just gave us a funny “duh” kind of look and condescendingly answered, “Certo (of course).” It was so obvious to her, she thought it was absurd that we were even asking.

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Unfortunately, Aldo is just about scared of everything so we don’t take him around as much as we’d like. However, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t go out at all. Aldo and his nonno (grandpa) love going to the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio together. His nonno takes him along to do the shopping and Aldo gets treats from the fruit vendors and sometimes they even stop by the Zoo di Giovannino for dog related items. The Zoo di Giovannino is an old pet store in the same square as the market, Piazza Ghiberti, and my inlaws have been going there for well over 20 years. They used to shop there for their cat and now they buy everything necessary to spoil the poop out of Aldo. Let’s just say, that after getting treats left and right and gourmet homemade meals from his nonna (grandma), he turns his nose up at his boring, dry dog food at home.

Some more dogs for your enjoyment. I love the yellow lab using the side walk as a pillow! He obviously got bored of his owner talking with his friend and took a little snooze on the pavement. These dogs are all gorgeous and I love every one of them.

A funny thing… people often ask me what breed Aldo is. He’s not a purebred, he’s a mixed rescue dog with unknown origins. In Italian, he’s a bastardo! He is. It sounds terrible, but that’s just how it’s said and it makes me simultaneously laugh and cringe when I say it. My dog’s a bastard. A bastard dog.

Alla prossima!  Until next time!