I’ve recently taken part in an emotionally charged and heated debate about ranting and bashing Italy on an expatriate website. But let me take a step back here for a moment and set the stage. Ever since the film “Under the Tuscan Sun” many people who don’t live in Italy think that this is in fact the perfect place to live. Before I moved here myself, I had very large rose coloured glasses on too (but I fell in love with an Italian man so obviously was quite biased)
I’m not saying that Italy doesn’t have some wonderful things to offer. What I’m saying is that for some reason some people are reluctant to accept the truth and reality of what this country is really like. I’m not talking about a summer home or visits while vacationing. I’m talking about living here day in and day out and completely immersing yourself into the culture.
From what I gathered, some members of this expat group became offended enough to leave the group altogether because they got tired of the ranting and outright digs towards Italians and the culture. I suppose some generalizations were made and therefore it got some upset.
And so, I felt it was my duty to post here what I refer to as the ‘sugar coated truth’. Italy is a beautiful country with great wine and food. The people mostly walk everywhere and I rarely see anyone I would consider to be obese. They grow fresh crops and take pride in providing wholesome meals. The life here has a simplicity that I admire.
Now for the downside. Italians are facing globalization which directly threatens this simplicity. But if they want to stay afloat and have a strong economy then they have little choice but to change their ways. They are overrun with crowded cities, an abandoned countryside, overpriced goods, high taxes and a corrupt government.
Italian customer service is appalling. Get in a car and you are sure to be cut off at least twice during a two kilometer trip. Cars are double-parked everywhere and public transit goes on strike monthly. In fact, today the gas stations are striking. So when does an Italian get ahead or even a break from all this madness?
Some on this website commented that it was okay to bash the lousy customer service but not okay to bash the people…to which my response was, “what???” Customer service is not some invisible entity…it is operated by PEOPLE! I also commented that even Italians complain about other Italians so why is it offensive when an expat does it?
I have met some wonderful Italians. But generally speaking if it weren’t for the love of my husband I’m not sure if I would continue to make this country my home. It simply wears you down. Which is why in some ways I understand the aggressive behaviour and crappy customer service.
But here is my sugar coated truth to the Italian people. Start taking responsibility for the mess your country is in. Stop thinking only about yourself and start thinking about your neighbour. If you are having a crappy day then take a moment to reflect on what you can do to change what’s making you unhappy instead of spewing rudeness and misery to the rest of us. The next time you honk at the car ahead because it is going too slow for you think about the last time you needed to slow down to find an address. Will waiting an extra 3 minutes truly ruin your day?
And here is a dose of reality to those expats and wannabe expats. Yes, life is not all roses here and if you haven’t figured that out yet then good for you, enjoy your ignorance while you can…it took me three years. If you are miserable here then go ahead and rant, we’ve all had bad days. Just be respectful to what generalizations you make in the heat of your anger and frustration.
To those wannabe expats, please consider this post a dose of friendly reality and the sugar coated truth.