The Ease of Doing Things

Tina Ferrari
  • By Tina Ferrari
  • October 13th, 2010

Though I’ve been in Italy a year, once in a while little things creep up that remind me that I’m not in the U.S.  Things we take for granted in our home country will often be much more noticeable in our new country and no matter how long we live in a place, for better or for worse, there’s always some adapting to do.

Take running errands.

Nary a soul to be seen at lunchtime

In Italy, if I go out to run three errands and get just one done, I feel lucky.  Here we are limited by several things, particularly lunch.  Stores, banks, post offices, close at lunchtime – in some towns here in the south that can mean from 1pm to about 5 or 5:30pm.  I’m not kidding.   It’s a ghost town for three to four hours.  If I want to get anything done, I either rush in the morning to get it done (and early or I risk waiting in line to be sent away at lunch time), or I wait until 5:30 and get caught in the after work crowd.  This means, one errand at a time, per day.  Unless it’s Sunday when not even the birds come out to sing.

It’s a little different than in a major city in the U.S. – If I need to get something done, and I don’t manage to leave the house until 1, no big deal. Everybody’s open.  It’s Sunday?  Not a problem, you’ll always find someone open, with the exception of the post office.  Midnight and you’re out of toilet paper?  Sure, okay – the grocery store a few blocks down is open all night.  Alas, for me, those days are over.

How do I cope with it?  Well, I don’t have much choice so I just deal with it. If I have three errands, I plan for just one.  When I accomplish it, I celebrate.  A big plus to this cultural difference is that when I have lunch plans with a friend, I can take as long as I’d like.

I could be romantic and say “I’ve slowed down, thanks to this pace of life” as I dreamily look off into the distance, thinking about the wild chicory I bought from the old man on the corner with a gleam in his eye.  As true as that may be on one hand, let’s be honest: there are times when instead I’m wringing my hands and pulling my hair, even weeping, wondering why I can’t get the simplest thing done in a normal way. Even if the chicory is good.

What’s cultural difference have you noticed the most in your new home?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes at as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

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October 13, 2010    Rate Comment

Ha! Love this, Tina. When I saw your title “The Ease of Doing Things” I thought you might have some tips for the rest of us here in southern Italy about HOW to make that easy! lol You are so right, even though we get the good (aka, the slowing down, good, fresh fruit and veggies) it is stressful and frustrating to get “things” done. We pretty much plan on “losing” a morning when we have errands.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the BEST time to go to the bank here in Catanzaro is on Thursday mornings when everyone else is at the market. Also, if we go to the PO *just* before lunch, there is usually less of a crowd and never, EVER plan errands for Monday mornings! :-)

Cherrye Moore
October 18, 2010    Rate Comment

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