The most common question I hear from friends planning a trip to Italy is, “We are going for a week so what should we see?” A lifetime would probably not be enough to see all there is to see in the beautiful country. As we all know, art and history are so overwhelmingly present, along with food, wines, natural beauty, and everything else that makes up the culture of a country. However, I often tell friends who have been there before to start looking at the Italians, themselves! Yes, I am well-aware of the fact that Americans, in general, find people-watching very difficult as an activity, yet this is the best way to really understand a culture so different from most others. Italians love crowds and being in them (fig. 1), obviously ignoring the concept of personal space. If you made it to Siena for the Palio (fig. 2), you better be ready to deal with a sea of humanity throughout the day. We love to meet friends (fig. 3) and talk (preferably outdoors) about everything! It could be politics, soccer, food, women; exactly what we try to avoid talking about in the States! Shopping or simply window-shopping is always popular (fig. 4). Window-shopping is the best way to get ideas on the latest moda, which can often be picked up at local outdoor mercatino (fig. 5) for a fraction of the price. Italians love music and being part of a banda di Paese (fig. 6) is a great way to perform and stay involved with friends. Theater and acting are also a great passion and many have found a way to turn this interest into a lavoretto (figs. 7, 8) thanks to the national ability for arrangiarsi. Urban traffic congestion is usually tragic, but young people always find a better way to get around (fig. 9). Italians are born with an extra gene which always leads them into being naturally elegant (figs. 10, 11) despite any fashionable trends. Sports are a big part of Italian life. It certainly began with the Romans (fig. 12), but today even rodeos have gained interest (fig. 13).
Well, it’s time to go back to our hotel after a late dinner in Rome’s Piazza Navona (fig. 14) where the show goes on until...who knows! Buona notte!