Have you ever greeted an Italian with a hand shake? It just feels weird doesn’t it? Like, maybe you’re not one of the “club” unless they slobber all over you with kisses upon greeting. I am a bit of a touchy, feely person myself, so this sweet Italian gesture is something I find very endearing about the culture. But, it is also in direct conflict with my alter-ego the “Germa-phobe” when the flu is going around.
Sometimes I think all this kissy kissy can get a bit ridiculous too. One time I was on a very crowded bus (when are they not?), only to be trampled on so that some woman could pass through all the people like a line-backer on the football field just to give the mandatory kisses to some friend of hers and then I watched her do it again 2 minutes later before departing at her stop. I got dizzy watching this spectacle!
I partake in a website called pinkitaly. It’s a community of female Expats living all over Italy. It’s a great forum and I really enjoy reading all the posts and perspectives of life in Italy. One of the girls wrote that she likes to give Italian’s “long uncomfortable hugs”. This made me laugh. As a Canadian, we all hug. I have a friend here in Genoa, and I always love to greet her because she always gives me that familiar Canadian hug and makes me feel at ease no matter how bad my day is going.
Italians generally don’t know how to hug. They are far too busy kissing everyone! And no matter how many times I have done this kissing practice, I just cannot seem to get the hang of it. I always end up trying to kiss on the wrong cheek first (is there a right and wrong way to do this?) and end up either kissing the persons lips (embarrassing) or I awkwardly try to hug them at the same time.
Oh well, at least I try. I’m going shopping in Milano this weekend and I am excited! I want to get myself a sweater from the shop “Baci & Abbracci”. It means “Kisses & Hugs”…so at least I got 50% of it right. Just like my Italian lessons, I’ll keep working on the “Kissing” part : )