Sunday, April 10

Spring Fever Italian Style

All throughout Italy, spring is in the air.  70 degree weather, families taking their afternoon walks in the parks, rainbows of gelato held aloft, male tourists in sandals – with socks.  No sooner are you enjoying the end of inclement weather, then your eyes go watery and your head starts to feel groggy…Hayfever? Fine particle pollution as more people take their cars to the streets to get outside? No.
Spring is the time of year that puts multi-cultural relationships to the ultimate test.  How to handle the changes in attire and other habits that we Americans hold true to our heart (only because these habits don’t hold true for Brits), while your Italian heartthrobs anguish over those very same issues – but inversely.
The first sign of spring, and it starts out mildly – like a small drip leaking through the cracks of a dam that before long will give way, wiping out the village below.  Wandering around the house barefooted, you hear some variation of, “Why don’t you have your slippers on?”  You, in earnest merrily chirp, ‘Because it’s Spring!’ – but you soon come to realize they don’t share your light-hearted bewilderment for seasonal changes.  In fact, from the look on their face, not only don’t they get the connection, they’re busy cruising the internet to see if those nefarious diseases picked up around the house are contagious through skin contact.
At home in the evening, you strategically open all the windows to get that breeze up and running at a good pace all through the evening – if not all night.  Your partner walks in, and before you know it, you feel like you’ve been transported to a gym locker room after the game.  It takes awhile to figure out why, but you finally realize – all the windows have been closed. Tight. In the car, you roll them down, better to feel the warm sun on your face, he/she shoots them back up – and then puts on the child safety lock to ward off any further tampering.
You don’t go so far as to let them see you with wet hair, you decide it’s better to pace the cross-culturalisms throughout the summer in small doses.  Of course, by summer, the car windows do get rolled up, but the playing field moves to the A/C settings [the Americans, jet frost / Italians, the minimum setting possible so as to relieve the shock of leaving the car in 90 degree heat – and not feel any difference in temperature.
My father liked to quip that it was the little things that gnawed away at once-terrific relationships: who leaves the toilet seat up, or pushes out the toothpaste from the middle of the tube.  But then again, he never lived in a foreign country.

4 comments:

Dave514 said...

Francesca:
Alles ist moeglich, est braucht nur training!

Davide

Live From Tuscany said...

Great post! Luckily my Italian other half is not so crazy about the devilish consequences of the air! But having been in Italy for 3+ years my patience is wearing thin on this topic. The other night I jumped on some Tuscany guy I had never met who claimed that his years working in an office with high air conditioning meant he was crippled for life with some neck problem. I replied "Really? Are you serious? Don't you realize if that were true half of America would be doubled over from pain? Did you ever think you were sleeping wrong, maybe on the wrong pillow, maybe your back has some kind of alignment problem, maybe you carry tension in your neck??" I basically said everything except call him "scemo".

Francesca Maggi said...

My favorite comeback which always goes a long way to endearing me to the natives (Not!) is pointing out that:
Carrying their children on the their laps in front of an airbag that will release at 180 km/hr. is far more dangerous than riding with the windows open...

Live From Tuscany said...

Direi... and not washing your hands when you leave a public restroom (or private for that matter), which I see ALL THE TIME here, is more likely to contribute to your influenza than some breeze on your neck!