Rita Graziano, an Italian-American California Bay Area native who has lived in Umbria, Italy for a little over a year now, told The Local how, of the many striking differences she's found compared to life in the USA, it's the little things – and the positive things – that stand out to her the most.
While it's easy enough to complain about Italy's famously slow bureaucracy, and the hiccups many of us experience after moving, Rita said: “I don't dwell on those. Sometimes I am amused, sometimes frustrated, but always willing to let it be in the end.”
Rita, who works remotely and made the move alone with “dogs and cats galore”, says the slower pace of life and “the lack of the “buy, buy, buy” mentality of the US” are some of the biggest positives.
Here, Rita gives us a quick glimpse of her life in Italy by describing some of the beautiful moments and gestures which define for her what living here is really all about.
The way you can “stumble upon” beauty anywhere. The gorgeous architecture in churches and other buildings as well as small points of beauty such as the way someone has arranged their garden flowers
The patience of the people with my poor Italian, the way they apologize because they don't speak English! (Not necessary to apologize — this is Italy!) and the way they will say “I speak only a few words of English”, and then they speak it very well in fact.
Photo: Clare Speak/The Local
The church bells
The sound of the church bells ringing, randomly as well as gloriously at 12 noon in the piazza.
I asked the pharmacist where the health center was and she dropped everything to walk with me there so I would be sure to find it. And when I put my credit card in the wrong slot of the gas station machine, in the dark, in the pouring rain, I was able to get it back at the Carabinieri station with four Carabinieri attentively listening to my poorly-told story, eager to help.
The way at holiday time, everyone greets each other with Buon Natale or Buon Anno. And how the vet's office (she is the only one for the village of Arrone) is not only a place to take your animals but is a social meeting place where people drop by to chat even while she is giving your animal a vaccination.
Rita's cat Harry, who as a kitten was saved by Arrone's vet. Photo: Rita Graziano.
The way you can meet people in a restaurant – in Spoleto my friend and I became immediate friends with a 97-year-old Navy veteran.
There's too much to say here, but as an example, the town of Terni, which was bombed 120 times during the war so is not a pretty city like so many others. And in Umbria the many hilltop villages built in the middle ages, causing me to wonder every time: how on earth did they build those villages and towers perched precariously on a hilltop?
This is probably a California thing, but here in Italy every season unfolds with such beauty and is distinct and wondrous.
Photo: Clare Speak/The Local
The old men sitting in cafes talking endlessly and watching the world go by. And the way every single Italian has an opinion on most things!
The feeling that I am safe and never alone. People are always willing to help.
The creativity used to make everything work… somehow.
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