Travel: Beyond the Mafia

the perry book

It’s one thing coming on holiday to Rome- Last year I,  “did as the Roman’s would do”, visited every touristy monument until my feet hurt and ate enough pizza and pasta to cause my poor mother to comment on my arrival back home,  “What the hell happened to you, I could roll you off the plane” …Thanks mom.

But having lived here now, approaching 1 month of my journey I have discovered life beyond the mafia- how to be the original “Roman G”, with these somewhat culture shocking discoveries about Italian life and how things work here.

  1. Dinner is served at 8 PM or later and usually last about 2 hours with Lucia and Lorenzo shouting at the top of their lungs or laughing till tears roll out of their eyes…then again, this is also caused by the copious amounts of red wine flowing.
  2.  Not all Italian men are sexy or hot. I recently met one that sounded as if he was Don Corleone from the God Father and smoked about 60 cigarettes a day…we just celebrated his 28th Birthday on Saturday.
  3. Peanut butter is rare and costs a shit load. There is no Black Cat, YumYum or anything like that. What you will find is a lonely jar of Skippy peanut butter which is the same price as 3 bottles of red wine. (I will compare the price of wine to most things as here, wine, water and coffee are all the same thing).
  4. Coffee is not coffee with milk. Coffee is an espresso which is served at bars or after every meal as a digestive. When you go out for coffee, you stand at these bars and drink your shot of espresso. Coffee as you know it is a breakfast drink and is never ordered after 1 PM. (Don’t do it, or just ask for American coffee)
  5. Italians eat biscuits for breakfast. I’m serious, they dip rich, chocolate biscuits into milk or coffee. The first time I saw it, I was like, “how is that breakfast, where’s the oats? Where’s the eggs on toast with asparagus and salmon?”. But seriously, breakfast is just shit here.
  6. You can never be too dressed up but you can be too dressed down (inserted hashtag #NoPlakkies).  Sorry Africa, but the simplicity of the style is just effortless unless you live here in Ostia. I can possibly get away wearing a hoody I stole from some boy last year and a pair of Ugg boots when I trek to the “Simply Super Market” to see what specials they have.
  7. My neighbour and I recently found out our “hood”, Ostia,  is pretty much like the Jersey Shore of Rome…no further comment on the matter except, “GTL Bro, GTL”. Ostia is where all the local Romans come to for the Beach..Yasssss finally I live in my own Camps Bay lol.
  8. Mac Donalds is a rare sighting, amongst other fast food places. Then again, who needs fast food when you have phenomenal food spots just around every other corner.
  9. The level of English amongst Italians is bad. They often like to make many things, “go to make party, make shower, make a nap etc.”
  10. They are always cold and paranoid of the flu! There will be no wind, but everyone will be walking around like marshmallows in their jackets accompanied a mandatory scarf.
  11. Men driving Smart cars feel cool. Don’t wys the Smart Car, period.
  12. The Metro will always be an interesting experience. You will either encounter the creeper who directly makes eye contact with no shame, the Bangladeshi who you will find in almost every city, the group of underage teens, smoking, making out or sitting on each other’s laps despite the clear abundance of seating.
  13. Italian X Factor is life- I swear the whole country is plonked down in front of their televisions on a Thursday night.
  14. PDA is welcomed with open arms (No need to kiss in dark corners kids.)
  15. The prostitutes have their A game on. Thongs and outfits straight out of the strip club are seen on the street casually. Let’s just say I’ve seen every type of ass in the flesh over the last few weeks.
  16. IT does not stand for “Italy”. IT is like African Time…”Italian Time”. Stores close from 1pm to 4pm daily. This time is used for cooking lunch, having siesta and kissing your beautiful wife.
  17. Everyone has a miniature dog which they drag every where including the shopping malls. You are guaranteed to see a few sausage dogs hopelessly doing the moonwalk while sliding behind their owners.
  18. No one pays to use a bus. If you do, you’re either an idiot or a tourist. Just get on and go.
  19. You walk…for days. I walk roughly 10km a day- whether I am off to the “Disco”, a historical monument or just along the beach.
  20. You know we all judge those who roll their “R’s” back home. Well trust me, those “gham r-rolls” and Akfriaans lingo will come in handy when trying to pronounce anything in Italian (lol).




by Zahrah Perry

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