Sunday, July 9, 2017

From ‘Heart over heel. Seduced by Southern Italy’ by Chris Harrison

In the heart of every man,
wherever he is born,
whatever his education and tastes,
there is one small corner which is Italian,
that part which finds regimentation irksome,
the dangers of war frightening,
strict morality stifling,
that part which loves frivolous and entertaining art,
admires larger than life size solitary heroes,
and dreams of an impossible liberation
from the strictures of a tidy existence.
-          Luigi Barzini

…..the Orson Welles assertion that there are over fifty million talented actors in Italy, with the only bad ones to be found on stage and in films.

Real Italian life, claimed Barzini, is more bleak than beautiful: corrupt, unjust, unenlightened and unhappy, with a dark tragedy for every colourful tradition. ‘It would be a success of sorts if it at least made Italians happy,’ he wrote. ‘But it does not.’

…..this Italian habit of casting critique across a crowded room, designed less to rectify a problem than enjoy lamenting it.

…….there is a fierce antagonism between Italy’s north and south.

The bell tolls nine before we start dinner, an Italian habit to eat late.

They talk for nearly an hour, though it seems they’re about to finish every five minutes. Italian goodbyes are like operatic deaths: just when you think they are spent they flare up again. Each time Daniela says goodbye the conversation takes a fresh turn. I think that’s why ciao means hello and goodbye.

Stunning in the centre, unsightly at its edge, a beautiful Baroque skeleton with unattractive flesh. Like most Italian cities, the elegant architecture of Lecce’s lavish centro storico contradicts its unkempt residential surrounds.

Lecce’s pre-Christian founders were roaming Greek communities. The city was then fought over and ruled by a succession of warlords including the Roman emperor Marco Aurelio, the Normans, and then for three and a half centuries by the Spanish Bourbons. Around the middle of the nineteenth century, patriotic uprisings unified Lecce with the rest of emergent Italy …….

Italians have difficulty with the English alphabet. There are only twenty-one letters in their alfabeto. Missing are J, K, W, X and Y, and while the letter H does exist, it is always mute and begins only a handful of imported words like ‘hotel’, pronounced otel in Italy.

‘….What the cabbage are you doing here?’ – I loved this Italian nicety, replacing cazzo (fuck) with cavolo (cabbage)

‘Sharing a coffee is an Italian tradition after achieving something together,’…..

Floating between heaven and hell. Italian life is like that.

……a religious procession which blocked the road ….It was the first time I had seen a stagnant line of Italian cars whose horns weren’t being thumped like game show buzzers; Italians respect their saints more than they do fellow motorists.

‘…..Every Italian complains about Italy. But if we leave, we miss something and we don’t know what it is. It’s impossible to describe.’

The medical check is the final hurdle for those seeking residency in Italy, deliberately last in case the process leading up to it has driven the applicant mad. The reward for passing is a libretto sanitario – a ticket to free government health care.

The opulence of the house was at odds with the neglected township outside its gate, litter on the street and a starving stray dog. If you could take an x-ray photograph of these southern villages, to view the plush insides of houses lining ramshackle streets, you would glimpse the Italian attitude to common property.

Weight gained at the food festivals was quickly lost at the bizarre Festa del Ballo, a fifteen-day dance spectacular culminating in the town of Melpignano on La Notte della Tarantola – the Night of the Tarantella. Performing a frantic carnal wriggle known as the tarantola, dancers imitate victims of what is now considered a psychosomatic condition dating back over a thousand years. Documented cases existed throughout the south of Italy, but the condition was particularly rife in Puglia, home to the city of Taranto from where the tarantula spider gets its name.
It was widely believed that the tarantula’s bite made the victim, or tarantato, a slave to the giant spider by whom they became possessed. The tarantato began to tremble when the tarantula moved or mated, prompting musicians to arrive with violins and tambourines to play what became known as the pizzica – the ‘pinch’ or ‘bite’ of the tarantula – as a form of musical therapy to help the voodoo-like torture pass. Victims begged musicians to play faster and closer because the vibration of air from the instruments relieved the pain of the bite on the skin, helping to disperse the coagulation of the blood.
The movement of the tarantato was convulsive, rhythmic and repetitious, beginning slowly and climaxing in a trance-like erotic ecstasy. People danced for days on end……
Scientific investigation supported some genuine cases of tarantismo, however more weight was given to an alternative theory when it was discovered that most victims were women. Socially and sexually repressed, they were believed to be justifying the liberating musical and erotic expression, which under any other circumstances would have been unacceptable, by claiming to have been bitten by the spider. This permitted a luxurious lapse in etiquette, from stripping in public to blasphemy in church.

…..the Carabinieri
The butt of Italian jokes, Italy’s paramilitary police force is famous for needing a squadron to change a light bulb ….Ridiculed by those it is their duty to police, members of this clumsy constabulary are considered dimwits and well-dressed fools, incompetent, lazy …..When the Carabinieri arrive on a crime scene, many victims consider their problems to have worsened.

Much of middle-class Italy owns a second home, more often than not by the sea. ….

Despite being surrounded by water, Sicily’s first and last impression is one of despairing thirst. Closer to Africa than to Rome, it is positioned at the toe of a boot which appears set to kick it back to the desert continent from which it freed itself millions of years ago. Water is scarce on this sun-baked island, in fact the only natural liquid Sicily manages to produce in any great quantity – apart from wine and red orange juice – is the burning lava of Mount Etna.

A reunited Italian family chats long into the night.

Many Italian men take a mistress, especially in Sicily, where they say eternal love lasts two years ……The summer sun must nourish infidelity because a third of all divorces are filed in September, the first month of autumn.

‘I just don’t want one, thank you. I’m not hungry.’
Ma perche?’ he insisted…..
The Sicilians were the most generous people I had ever met. They were also the most insistent.

‘Guests are like fish,’ went one of her many maxims, ‘after a while they stink.’

Rolling in from the Po valley and nestling against the Alps, Milan’s winter cloak is as miserable as the city it obscures.

Italians place great importance on the weather, holding it accountable for everything from toothache to libido. They trust only the most qualified meteorologists. An air force colonel in military uniform reads the weather on TV.

Milan is Italy’s wealthiest city.

The Italian rule of thumb is: if it sounds good, stick to it. Bear that in mind if you’re ever learning the language.
Italian grammar adheres to complex principles, until those principles make a phrase discordant and can be swept aside in the name of beauty. …..Italian is widely considered the most melodic of the Romance languages. King Charles V of Spain said:
When I’m talking to my horse I speak German,
When I’m talking to diplomats I speak French,
When I’m talking to God I speak Spanish,
But when I’m talking to women I speak Italian

If you want to upset an Italian ear, subject it to the angular tongue of the Germans or the cold, efficient, sterile talk of the Swiss. To an Italian, rhythm and melody are far more important than efficiency, precision and perhaps even meaning. Italians enjoy speaking their language and view it as a pastime rather than a means to an end. In their eyes, or mouths rather, it’s a dynamic organism, an instrument with which to make music, a brush with which to paint…….Speaking Italian is addictive and most Italians would prefer to talk to themselves rather than stop. But verbosity inhibits clarity, with frustrating results. Ask a German where the bank is and they’ll either tell you or say they don’t know. Ask an Italian and they’ll tell you regardless of whether they know or not. Their tongues are far too hyperactive for terse replies like ‘I don’t know’.
The other downside is that Italians dislike listening almost as much as they love speaking. ….Enrico the bank manager told me that if you don’t shout in Italy you wont be heard ….As a result, learning Italian also means learning how to interrupt, to bellow, to dismiss and to shout down. …..Cut off the Italians mid-sentence, swat your hand at them, call them fools; they’ll still be your friends and will have done worse to you. Do it in Australia and you’ll be drinking on your own.

The famous joke – ‘How do you stop Italians from talking? By chopping off their hands’ …..Italians’ hands are as active as their mouths…..Daniela can only talk while driving if she steers with her knees.

Pedalling antique mounts (new bicycles don’t seem to exist in Italy), Milan’s bicycle couriers, a fleet of middle-aged men in navy-blue suits, deliver the post with style rather than speed, whistling while they work.

What’s the difference between a strike day and a normal day at an Italian post office? On a strike day they put a sign out front to explain why no one’s working.

…..Terroni is a derogatory term meaning ‘person of the earth’, levelled at southerners whom northerners find uncivilized.

A Milanese friend of mine once commented: ‘Foreigners don’t usually consider Italians racist, but its only because we are so prejudiced against fellow Italians that we have no hatred left over for foreigners.’ ……Italians dislike each other according to city or region …..If you’re tight-fisted you must be from Genova, if you’re arrogant you’re from Florence, if you lack humour you call Milan home, if you’re a snob then Padova’s your pad, if you’re conceited you belong to Bologna, if you’re obstinate you’re sure to be Sardinian, and if you hail from anywhere south of Rome you might as well be African.
Northern Italians believe the First World stops around Rome, beyond which the uncultivated terroni inhabit the underdeveloped south …..The terroni are regarded as a primitive underclass which many northerners believe Italy would be better off without. ……The history of Italy is one of north-south disparity stretching as far back as the 1500s when the Spanish conquered the south of the country and established the ‘Kingdom of Naples’ which lasted for over three and a half centuries. While the north was a series of prosperous sovereign states, the south was comprised of a largely illiterate peasantry to whom education was denied in order to facilitate rule. The benefits of the Industrial Revolution were reaped in the north but denied to the south, where the Spanish, content with the advancement of their homeland alone, were indifferent to progress.
Even after Garibaldi liberated southern Italy from Bourbon rule in 1861, uniting the ‘Kingdom of Italy’ ruled by Vittorio Emmanuele II, development in the south lagged far behind that of the north, where roads, schools and factories were the order of the day. The south, almost disregarded, became known as the Mezzogiorno, literally meaning ‘midday’. Not sure why. Maybe because that’s when they stop work.
Throughout the 1900s the southern problem was largely ignored, and under Fascism it was illegal to even refer to the Mezzogiorno – the nation’s weakest link. Some financial help arrived in the 1950s with the ‘Mezzogiorno Fund’, but between corrupt local government and Mafia self-interest the money was dealt to the already rick, justifying northern accusations that the wealth was crooked and should fend for itself.
In the decade which followed, over a million southerners migrated north in search of the wealth ….An even greater number tried their luck overseas, mainly in America and Australia. ……The south has since enjoyed heartier times, with a limited industrial revolution……and generational wealth in the form of property, which is soaring in value as the Mexxogiorno becomes a tourist attraction……..southerners …lack of community conscience and inherent mistrust of authority, which whether foreign or Italian has rarely been anything but self-advancing, gives southern Italy a medieval persona, alienating it further from the modernized north.

….Milan ….January’s cold conclusion is a seven-day shiver from the twenty-fourth to the thirtieth ………..Siberian winds invade the city and the evening sky turns a shade of orange.

Even the most cautious Italian drives as though a pregnant passenger’s waters have broken; the rest engage in a dangerous cross between dodgems and a demolition derby.

Francesca’s biggest problem with English was ……..pronunciation. English demanded she do thing with her tongue it was reluctant to do, like the word ‘the’ for example. The definite article moved her tongue in the vicinity of her front teeth, somewhere Italian didn’t force it to go and which felt unusually sharp as a result…….Only Tiziana nailed it first go, but her tongue was used to a challenge.

Sunday is a sacred day. After religious obligations early, Italians lunch with family before spending the evening with friends. ……..guests arrived at around half-past nine; I could neither accustom myself to eating so late …..stumbling or slurring your words is considered bad form in Italy. Drinking is perfectly acceptable. Getting drunk is not. It’s a question of culture. Having been given wine at the dinner table since they were old enough to ask what it was, my Italian friends hadn’t arrived at eighteen salivating for the illicit drop. The legal drinking age is not an issue in Italy, indeed many Italians don’t even know what it was.  …….The age of consent, however, is a completely different story. ……….When the night was over they grabbed car keys without questioning alcohol intake. None of them knew the legal limit, and none of them had ever been stopped by police, who probably didn’t know either.

In Australia I ate to live. In Italy I lived to eat.

…..Luigi Barzini wrote:
Where legal authority is weak and the law is resented and resisted, the safety and welfare of the individual are mainly assured by the family. The Italian family is a stronghold in a hostile land: within its walls and among its members the individual finds consolation, help, advice, provisions, loans, weapons, allies and accomplices to aid him in his pursuits. No Italian who has a family is ever alone.

…….Italians lead highly regimented lives under one of the most cluttered constitutions on the planet. Italy is saturated by senseless statutes: the distance from a shop for which a receipt must be kept, the space between beach umbrellas ………They are whimsical regulations which Barzini believes
could paralyse every activity in the land if they were suddenly applied. Nobody knows how many of them are still valid, nobody knows for certain what some of them really mean. Often not even recourse to the records of what lawmakers said years before when debating them in parliament reveals their significance and precise purpose.

Italians own more cars per head of population than any other country in Europe. Their love of the automobile is famous, less so their squabbles over parking them all in a country with more cathedrals than car parks. …….Its a far cry from the French who, in certain parts of Paris, leave their handbrakes off so other motorists can nudge their cars forward and backwards to create space.

A father’s obsession with his daughters safety often demands she lie in order to grow up socially and sexually………sons suffer similar persecution…..there is a protective Italian mother devoted to pampering her prized boy; pampering which is often excessive and which gave rise to the saying ‘Jesus Christ must have been Italian because he lived at home until he was thirty and his mother told him he was God’. …….Mothers deny sons nothing and are denied nothing by sons, whose marriages often fail because wives tire of competing with mothers-in-law. …….Overprotective parents will do anything to avoid separation from their children, even invent illness or disability in extreme cases.

…..we heard the church bell at the end of our street …….. ‘Che schifo di campana!’ declared Daniela ……. ‘That’s a tired bell. It sounds like a dry tongue slapping against the parched walls of a mouth that doesn’t want to sing anymore’ ……example of campanilismo – love and loyalty to one’s hometown bell and the unique way of life that its ring orchestrates ……despite starvation, the first thing the residents of Adano ask of the liberating Allied forces in John Hersey’s A Bell for Adano is the replacement of their bell, which Mussolini had seized to melt down into bullets. ‘The spirit is more important than the stomach,’ says a villager……..

Milan records more cases of ailments linked to air pollution than any other Italian city including Naples, where fresh air is sold in a can…….. How could such a wealthy city appear so neglected? The centre was elegant but the suburbs were eyesores. Even high-priced residential areas looked squalid. And common property was as well groomed as a beggar’s beard …..people walking dogs in grass so wild ……I found the people more charming than the city, despite their addiction to money and their talent for hypocrisy. ……While the Milanese were energetic……their city felt exhausted, stale and sterile……..The subtle glow of the Duomo remains my most pleasant memory of Milano.

……Italians are creatures of habit. During summer I had the entire Adriatic to myself between 2 and 4 pm. Few Italians will risk a swim until at least two hours after a meal. Its suicide, apparently – you’ll get a cramp and sink like a stone.

One of the many contradictions which characterize the Italians is the fact they have migrated throughout the world while remaining hopeless travelers. It seems strange that gifted improvisers find adventure bothersome and spend foreign holidays searching for the comforts of home …….even Italians lament Italy’s obvious imperfections yet, when they leave, grieve for the loss of something they cannot describe.

……Prada shoes and Armani strides. Fashion-wise, blending in in Italy means standing out in Australia.

Real Italian life is far removed from the tourist experience. Venetians don’t ride in gondolas. Many couldn’t afford to even if they so desired……Travel writers are also to blame ……Barzini said ‘the Italian way of life cannot be considered a success except by temporary visitors’, …….

In Italy the word ‘government’ is synonymous with ‘corruption’ ……….the population has as much respect for its politicians as its politicians have for the population ……By snubbing their nation’s shame they have found its main strength – escapism. …..Barzini’s claim that ‘there has never been a race of people so fundamentally desolate and desperate as these gay Italians.’

Italian television is designed… titillate rather than educate……Even when the women are decently dressed, cameras on the floor shoot up their skirts while those on the roof peer down their shirts………

Compared to other nations, the Italians have non-conformist agendas, preferring food to finance, sex to the stock market, and juggling relationships to balancing the budget. These priorities have earned Italy a kind of affectionate pity from the rest of the world …………Internationally it’s a figure of fun ……..But a country that can relax the rules and still become the fifth largest industrialised nation must be doing something right……Like most Italians, she believes there is order in disorder and tranquility in chaos.

The author Guido Cerenotti …… ‘These Italian trains of sufferance. This filthy travelling shed without any timetable, palely close to something from the Andes or Calcutta.’

Renowned bottom-pinchers, Italian men are candid about their cravings and refuse to accept that a natural urge can be considered a vice. But many foreigners find their blatancy disrespectful……They desire respect while the Italians respect desire. …..Italian men and women are comfortable with sex. To them sesso is not a dirty word but a human necessity …….When Roberto Benigni appeared on stage at the San Remo Song Festival and begged the ravishing female host for ‘just a few seconds under your skirt,’ he was applauded by both male and female spectators…..Italian women are worshipped rather than respected……When Daniela and I watch TV, I’m the one who finds the nudity excessive.

Food is Italy’s national discourse. More talked about even than football, it manages to become the topic of conversation at casual encounters between strangers………Questions on Italian quiz shows are often culinary in nature…….

A satellite image of Italy shows the boot to be green but the heel brown, the colour of baked earth, hence the name terroni for those who call it home. The change occurs in the blink of an eye as you enter the scorched Salento. Grass turns to rock, cypress tree to olive grove, and stone villa to whitewashed dwelling – the signature of southern Italy. Industrial-scale agriculture shrivels to subsistence farming. Fields appear less fertile and their farmers more unkempt, many resembling their scarecrows after a life spent in the sun ………. Tractors are old and rusty…..A plough is pushed by hand …….Fishing nets are darned by grandma……..Dogs are chained up and tossed a meal once a day, if they’re lucky. Roads are strewn with rubbish. …… Puglia’s peasant beauty is enchanting, weather-beaten and raw, but its pockmarked landscape can assault an eye fond of order.

….dining under a clear sky surrounded by good people and great wine dissolved Italy’s daily disasters………We were still singing at 2 am. None of the parents even considered taking their children home and those who nodded off in their chairs were woken at the end of each tune by the hearty applause of summertime singers.
Most of the group went home around three while the rest decided to drive to Castro for gelato.

……..there’s no Y in the Italian alphabet.

……….southern Italian tradition of loyalty to particular beaches.

Calm seas and a clear night had provided the perfect conditions for people smugglers to ferry their human cargo across the shortest stretch of water between Albania and Italy. In the vicinity of Andrano it’s a mere 75 kilometres across and, depending on which Mafia you do business with, costs around $3000. Speedboats depart Albania after midnight and enter Italian waters soon after……..My own experience of entering Italy shows that border controls are lax even at airports. ……The Mediterranean is becoming something of a cemetery, with around 2000 people drowning annually in their attempts to enter Europe’s back door. Not only in small boats but in large, overloaded and unseaworthy ships which either run aground, are abandoned by crews or simply come unstuck in open seas.

……furrows on his face suggested his staple expressions was a frown. It was the burdened look of many of Andrano’s elderly, whose lives revolved around the simple pleasures of family, food and religion. Life looked a trial for these people, a chore to be endured. They hadn’t grown up carefree, cavorting on Vespas, chatting on mobiles or seducing the best looking. Health and having enough food had been their goals, and they thanked God for both when the sun came and went. Everything about them said heat and toil, from their snakeskin hands to their sunburnt brows.

Italy is known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Dialects’. Every village on the peninsula has its own language, a baffling blend of modern Italian and the ancient tongue spoken by the founders, invaders or occupiers………. In the province of Lecce, for example, the dialect has a strong Greek influence, in Turin the roots of many words can be traced to French, and in Sicily there’s a bit of everything – the linguistic legacies of Arab invaders, Albanian settlers and Spanish conquistadors. …..According to The New Italians, in 1990 one in seven Italians could only converse in their village vernacular, and this figure might have been higher if Mussolini hadn’t pushed the standardization of the language for the sake of unita nazionale, or at least so his soldiers could understand orders. ………Thanks to improved literacy and post-war migration, most Italians now speak the official language. ………nowadays, in all but extreme cases, the younger generation uses dialect as a fun rather than a functional language……..many fear their unique tongues will die out

Italy’s police may be impossible, but Italians are impossible to police. How can the Carabinieri be expected to supervise the Napoletani, for example, who, the day after seat-belts became law, were swerving around Naples wearing T-shirts with a seat-belt printed diagonally across them?

Is there another country where a confrontation with police can begin with insults and end with waistlines and recipes? Where one treads the precarious ground between madness and happiness with such wonderful and exasperating regularity?

Dogs and cats are disposable items to many Italians, who leave four-legged commitments under bridges, in bushland, or tied to guardrails …….The Italian expression for a small town in un paese di quattro gatti – a town of four cats……

I had seen exposes of the appalling conditions in Italian animal shelters, with ten or more dogs cramped in concrete cells…..the shelters were not designed to care for the animals but to get them off the roads where they posed a traffic hazard.

The myth of the Mediterranean is that summer is endless. The secret of the Mediterranean is that winter is as harsh as summer is hot.

Other than San Martino and the occasional religious festival, revelry is rare in winter, when towns like Andrano hibernate. During the cold months, the Andranesi work and wait for the warm months, counting the days until the sun returns to the Salento. The Mediterranean lifestyle revolves around heat and the outdoors.

The heel of the boot has been something of an Achilles heel for Italy’s government. And if the situation was bad in Puglia, in Calabria it was dire – the toe of the boot holds the dubious honour of having the highest unemployment rate in Europe. Barren fields sow desperation.

…..[in school] …The boys seemed to have spent more time on their appearance than the girls.

…….Italians cant drive for more than a hundred metres without honking their horns…….

……… ‘Buonasera,’ she muttered to no one in particular, a southern Italian custom when leaving shop or office.

Just once I’d like to travel in Italy without having to ferry food to someone……..

………She loathed the Italians for their menefreghismo or ‘fuckyouist’ approach to life, the rubbish for its ubiquity, the government for its corruption, the carabinieri for their stupidity, her boss for his disorganization, the hospitals, the schools, the banks …..
I wouldn’t have objected to her diatribe had it not been voiced in front of a group of local lads waiting for Giovanni. Sucking on cigarettes, they stared at the secretary as she reinforced their stereotype of the stuck-up Swiss.

…….the morning of my theory exam [of driving] ……we arrived at the motor registry …..Giovanni disappeared for several minutes and returned with good news: the examiner on duty was a man he knew well, a certain Signore Pozzo from the same village as Giovanni.
‘Ah,’ exclaimed Daniela, ‘not Paolo Pozzo? He’s a family friend, I think. I’m sure his wife went to school with my mother.’
Perfetto,’ said Giovanni, smiling.
It seemed I had passed already.

Rarely a day passed in Italy without some form of industrial action……During my time in this litigious country I can remember strikes by postal workers, journalists, judges, teachers, doctors, nurses, pilots, air traffic controllers, cabin and ground crew, baggage handlers, bus drivers, train drivers, cooks in public schools, Formula One commentators, toll collectors ……….. Indeed the only workers I am yet to see strike are Italy’s indefatigable housewives, which would no doubt be the only stop-work that a majority of Italians would notice.

Ask an Italian for directions and you’ll receive an intricate trail, which when followed, often gets you more lost ………

Many Italian hospitals, particularly in the south, are as unhealthy as their patients. In the words of the Health Minister: ‘Half Italy’s hospitals should be closed. They are old, outdated and no longer capable of responding to the citizens’ needs.’ Then come the doctors: famously gifted or infamously incompetent.

Lunch had been delivered …….the tray revealed a bowl of minestrone, a bread roll, three potatoes and some slices of lamb: the saving grace of Italian hospitals is that you eat well.

When Italians are in discomfort, the conversation sparks like kindling….

Italians get married on any day of the week except Tuesday and Friday, when it is considered bad luck according to the proverb: ‘Di venere e di marte, non si sposa e non si parte’ – ‘Friday and Tuesday, no weddings or departures’.

Southerners are more superstitious than norterners apparently……..

…….local maxim. ‘Choose your wife and your cows from your own village.’ ………This was Catholic southern Italy, where weddings were strictly religious affairs……

…….the shameless Italian preference for male children. Where else in the world do you wish somebody luck by saying: ‘Tanti auguri e figli masche’ – ‘All the best and may you have male children’?

Thirty per cent of Italian marriages which end in divorce do so because of the mother-in-law.

Federica’s wedding lasted eight hours, and for six of those we were eating……Italian weddings are a culinary competition, a desperate attempt to outdo one’s friends…… often they forget to have fun. There were no speeches, no laughter, no candid photos, no drunkenness. Only swollen stomachs and stretched smiles. And while there was a dance floor, by the end of the marathon meal everyone was too bloated to boogie. Cancel the images you have of Italian weddings being joyous galas of Mediterranean mayhem. I have yet to endure one where guests didn’t spend most of the evening watching their watches.

……….take an Italian at his word and he’ll take you to the cleaners.

It wouldn’t have been a genuine Italian wedding without an element of drama, without the chance of everything falling apart……..Italians only know how to win when there’s everything to lose….

……….for all their famous flamboyance, the Italians are remarkably formal folk with a code of conduct for every occasion….

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