6 Reasons I Couldn’t Be Italian Even If I Tried

March 26, 2015
6 Reasons I Couldn't Be Italian Even If I Tried

I couldn’t be Italian if I tried. My hair is naturally blonde, and have you ever seen an Italian who is naturally blonde? I attempt to speak Italian daily, but let’s be honest—my accent is American, or sometimes Spanish. Having lived in Italy for almost three months, I have learned that I am both grateful and not so grateful to be an American. I love our big showers, cozy beds, expansive grocery stores, and large cars. But there are six main differences between my own habits and Italian culture that make me realize I may never fit in.

6 Reasons I Couldn’t Be Italian Even If I Tried

1. I always walk like I’m 10 minutes late, even if I’m early

I have something called my “Disney walk.” I learned how to move through people in a polite and speedy fashion while at Disney so I could get somewhere faster. Usually I’m running between meetings or classes, so this walk is necessary. But not in Italy. Italy is about walking leisurely and enjoying what you are experiencing. Most importantly, it’s about never being on time. After all, the city has been around for 2800 years. Being late won’t bring about its ruin.

2. I constantly need to be doing something

From 12:30-3:30 every day, the cities shut down because people take siestas. This was originally very distressing to me. Why would anyone stop work for three hours and do nothing or even worse, relax? I discovered the Italians have a phrase they use to express their more relaxed lifestyle. It’s called “dolce far niente” which means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” I only pray I can one day learn about the sweetness of that life.

3. I worry too much and trust too little

Every day I take multiple buses or trams to make my way around the Eternal City. While at the bus stop, I have noticed I’m the only one checking to see when the bus is coming. I really have nowhere to be, but I’m always concerned I will miss the bus or that it won’t come.

The Italians are the ones chatting, relaxing, reading, or listening to music while waiting. They are not worried, for they know the bus will come. They don’t fret over the small things in life they can’t control.

4. I fear most things in life

Romans clearly have a death wish because they drive mopeds around the city at daringly high speeds. They seem to have very little fears about life and all it holds. I, on the other hand, am scared to take the metro to the Coliseum. Recently, ISIS made a threat to avenge Rome.

Of course, the American students all panicked and my mom was ready to bring me back home. Before any rash decisions were made, I took note of how the Italians felt. They seemingly laughed it off and told me “we can’t live our lives in fear.”

5. I don’t eat while sitting down

The fast food here is pizza made fresh which they wrap and fold over like a sandwich. I have come to love this pizza and never want to go back to eating Domino’s. This quick eating is a habit of mine. Back home, I would eat breakfast while walking to class, lunch sometimes on the go, and I was lucky if I could shove dinner in my mouth before needing to leave.

Italians wouldn’t dare live like that. Food is so important in Italian culture, and mealtime is an integral time to be with friends and family and develop relationships whether over a cappuccino and cornetto or a huge bowl of pesto pasta.

6. I love everything in excess

Things are bigger in America. You’re lucky if you can move in the shower to shave your legs or get through the tiny doorway with your backpack here. While I’m fascinated with the toy-like cars, the Italians don’t even notice. They’ve showed me that simplicity often brings joy while excessiveness brings angst. I suppose in Italy it’s not so much about the things or size of what you have but rather the experiences you gain.

I consider Italy to be my home, even if only temporarily. While I’m here, I want to try my hardest to blend in, but I never will be able to. Even if I can’t become one of them, I can learn from them. They showed me life is about living. It’s about eating dinner for two hours starting at 8 p.m.

It’s about wandering the gorgeous streets at a leisurely pace. It’s about eating gelato for a snack and not feeling guilty. It’s about not worrying about when the bus will arrive in the morning. It’s about taking a siesta for two hours midday. It’s about being present.

I’m American. I will never be Italian. I may never live in Italy again after I finish studying. However, I want to act Italian because their lifestyle is truly enriching. Quite frankly, I want to act Italian for the rest of my life.

Italian Culture: 6 Reasons I Want to Fit In

6 Reasons I Couldn’t Be Italian Even If I Tried

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Weekend in Rome: A Weekend of Ecstatic Eating, Dancing, & Sightseeing

Have you traveled to Italy? How was you trip? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

6 Reasons I Couldn’t Be Italian Even If I Tried photo credits: Alex Krcelic and Unsplash.


About Alexis Krcelic

Alexis is a college student studying at the University of South Carolina. Always hungry for knowledge and culture, she never stops traveling or learning about all life has to offer. Her adventures take her all around the world in search of truth, love, and happiness.

6 thoughts on “6 Reasons I Couldn’t Be Italian Even If I Tried

  1. Ale
    June 15, 2015

    I don’t know if you have already done it, but you should visit and spend some days in Naples! Everything you mentioned as ‘Italian culture’ are their extreme (in a good way) in Napoli. Siesta, excellent-cheap food, enjoying the dolce far niente are the basic fundamental rules of Neapolitans.

    Saluti from an Italian that lived in Great Britain for few years… Italy is sweet. If just people had more control of the dolce far niente…

    • Alexis
      June 15, 2015

      I did spend some time in Naples! It was wonderful and one of my favorite places because it was so rich with the Italian culture that I love.

  2. bax
    March 26, 2015

    Italy is long and tight we say. And you are staying somewhere in the south, Alexis, aren’t you?
    Come to visit the north, you’ll get in touch with a completely different kind of “italian culture”.

    • Alexis
      March 30, 2015

      I am living in Rome actually! I have been to the north and it is very different but I prefer the southern culture.

  3. Silvia
    March 26, 2015

    I’m Italian but I actually fit in the reason why you tell you’re not lol. Italy is very diverse within its boarders and if you happen to be in Milan (a city where you always kinda gotta run somewhere) you’ll probably find out! Uh and I lived in the US for a year discovered I’m more American than I thought…

    • Alexis
      March 30, 2015

      Haha they are just my observations of having lived in Rome and traveled around. I have been to Milan and I do prefer the much more laid back culture of Rome but usually I do not because like I said I am too American!

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