As I’ve stated many times before (and like many before me), Italy is nothing if not a land of contradictions. But, when it comes to looking at life’s petty inconveniences, if not truly huge disasters, the Italians always turn to the exact opposite of what one would expect.
For example, if you get shat on by a pigeon (a fairly common occurrence and the incident which sparked this blog note), while you’re pretty much standing there, immobile and absolutely grossed out, an Italian will quickly quip, “Porta Fortuna!” (it brings good luck). While you ponder the goock in your hair, and your upcoming dry cleaning bill, you wonder what kind of luck is in store for you…
Ditto for stepping in dog doo. Now, if this were truly the case, the Italians would be the luckiest populace on the planet, with a close runner up by the French. And the Singaporeans, who seem like a fairly happy lot, would have the highest suicide rates in the world.
Brides are told that rain on their wedding day also Porta Bene! Try telling that to Bridezilla.
But, my very favorite expression of all, is of course, “In Bocca al Lupo!” (in the mouth of the wolf) for anyone who has to pass a test, or to whom you simply want to wish good luck. It’s the Italian equivalent of Break a Leg! But still, as someone who grew up on Little Red Riding Hood, I can’t help but think there’s a bad omen in there somewhere.
And, whomever said that Italians weren’t optimistic?