America for Italian Dummies #3


C like… Coffee!

Dear fellow italian countrymen,

please don’t blame American coffee, I know it’s hard to accept for you, but trust me, it is not so bad as you expect, in fact it has il suo perché.

Dear American friends,

don’t be surprised to see the perplex faces that any Italian has in front of an American cup of coffee. It happens for a variety of reasons.

Let’s start with the cup. This is the big sister of the Italian tazzina (lit. little cup, or mini mug as someone say). For an Italian it’s always hard to conceive a coffee that is not in a tazzina. Remember that in Italia caffè ‘coffe’ and espresso are synonymous.

Next coffe machine. Ok, now a days american coffee machines are becoming more and more popular, but typically an Italian don’t have any idea about the way in which that kind of machine works. The proof? 4 years in the U.S. and I cannot make a coffee (if not with the moka)

Third. Coffee during meal. Raise your hand you will never ever ever will be able to convince an Italian to accept this. Expect a disgusted face if you do. If you want to become the best friend of an Italian fellow, bring him/her a coffee after a meal.

And if you wonder why, again, in Italy coffee = espresso, not something that you could sip during an entire meal, but you quickly drink after it. Maybe standing at the counter.

And this lead as to the next point: coffee to go.

unconceivable in Italy.

Having a coffee while walking? Whaaat?

working or studying with a coffee cup on your desk? What’s that?

And Coffee shop. Well, believe this or not, the Italians will be absolutely ecstatic about them.

Don’t be surprise if they order a coffee expecting to be served. They don’t do that because they are aristocratic used to servant wearing livery and white gloves, it’s just because no drink is self-service (nor free refill) in Italy.

And sitting in a coffee store for hours reading, chatting, or working without the obligation to order something after a while will be heaven for them!


Chiuso per ferie/Closed for holidays. An Italian business

If you happen to be in Italy between the end of July and the first half of september, you surely have to deal with this sign.

You will find it anywhere. Stores, Coffee shops, bookstores, even public libraries and offices will be closed to the public or will be open with a orario ridotto (‘reduced’ business hours).

Le ferie, ‘holidays’, not a generic holiday but specifically the break you take from your job (if you are retired or unoccupied you don’t go to ferie but just in vacanza ‘take a vacation’), typically in August, are a genuine Italian institution that originates at the time of the glorious Roman Empire. They were instituted by Emperor Ottaviano Augusto himself. And the people of Italy couldn’t be more proud of this noble Italic tradition.

As a proud member of the community I disappeared at the end of July to the end of September. What a Patriot! And now here I am, at the end of a long season of fancazzismo (the less-politically-correct-version of the dolce far niente described in Eat Pray Love) ready for new adventures.

Riaperto per ferie

Le ferie. Questa strana tradizione italiana che confonde gli stranieri.

Quante volte mi è capitato di discuterne di fronte alle facce perplesse dei colleghi iù-ès-èi, mentre tentavo con fatica di spiegare il concetto di fancazzismo con lo stesso successo di chi prova a convertire un macellaio fiorentino al veganesimo.

Ma di questo parleremo un’altra volta.

Le ferie, nobile usanza italica le cui origini risalgono nientepo’po’dimenoche all’imperatore Ottaviano Augusto, antica tradizione di cui gli italiani non potrebbero essere più fieri.

Come orgoglioso membro della comunità italica non potevo certo esimermi dal celebrarla, per cui eccomi qui, dopo una lunga stagione di fancazzismo livello avanzato, con la faccia e l’entusiasmo di chi torna dalle ferie.

Che patriota.