I first encountered Pete a couple of years ago, when I was on a mission (literally!!) to talk my husband into learning Italian.
I stumbled across Pete’s endearing blog “Englishman in Italy” while surfing the net looking for ideas, and since he wrote about his adventures as an expat living in Italy with his Italian wife, I took courage and asked for advise.
To my dismay, good old Pete just told me that I was fighting a lost battle and to ” love my husband lots, make him cups of tea, always make sure his favorite beer is in the fridge and his comfy slippers are next to the fire.”
And there all my attempts to finally have a bilingual husband went straight out of the window (by the way, he finally found the way around speaking my language in this little tech gem http://www.boredpanda.com/real-time-translator-ear-waverly-labs/….what one wouldn’t do for love, hey?)
Never the less, I did find a lovely online friend who’s been entertaining a wide group of English expats and not just with weekly mumbles and musings on his life in Italy.
I believe Pete deserves to be part of the “You’ve got the magic gang” because of his ability to find humour in his ups & downs while dealing with a system which is not only foreign, but also quite often alien to Italians themselves.
In time I have come to admire Pete’s ability to make his way through bureaucracy, mannerisms (anyone ever experienced trying to queue up in Italy, not to mention driving or being stuck in traffic?), language barriers, cultural barriers…all sorts of barriers…without being able to rely on a good cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.
So let’s hear it from the chap himself:
1)Although Uk & Italy are European countries (are they?), there are quite strong differences among the two cultures. Have you embraced the Italian culture despite its many baffling traits?
While I was trying to obtain Italian health care, the Italian officials protested that the UK can’t be part of Europe because we don’t have the Euro. When forced they said “ok the UK is part of Europe but Great Britain isn’t!” Much to the dismay of my Italian wife I have completely embraced the Italian culture. I love the food and the wine, the mid-afternoon siesta is a delight and with my hand on my heart I can honestly say I am now able to drive just like an Italian whilst answering my phone and completely ignoring other road users.
2)How do you deal with the no days, filled with bureaucracy, traffic jam and “parenti serpenti” which for the English mind are arcane matters!
Bureaucracy is a complete nightmare here, if I receive a no to a request, I go back the following week and ask again, because either the rules will have changed or the official might have changed his mind. Apart from the occasional tractor or combine harvester, we don’t have many traffic problems. However, driving down to Sicily, my wife and I accidentally took the wrong turn and ended up in Naples. What a nightmare that was, motor bikes were whizzing down the pavement and as I tried to find my way out of the city, my wife was removing my wallet, sat nav and watch, she was trying to hide them in case someone tried to break the car window to steal them. And as for “parenti serpenti” I had to google what it was (I told you my Italian was limited to ciao, si, non, cosi cosi and non e’ vero) actually my wife’s family are fab, they never had a son, so they have adopted this ever so strange Englishman.
3) Best remedy for homesickness.
Bacon Sandwiches, I can think of no other remedy. I invite friends and family to Italy with the one condition that they bring me 2 kilos of bacon.
4)How do you bring the best out of yourself & those around at times when you struggle to understand their mentality or how their system works?
I use humor and I try to smile a lot, if that fails I go Italian and shout and wave my arms about.
5) How has living in Il bel Paese changed you?
I am a much more relaxed person, although at times I become frustrated with how long and complicated the bureaucracy is. I have even accepted the incredible amount of tax we pay here; ok I lied about that last bit.
And you get to answer an extra question:
6) Cheese & pickle sandwich or “panino alla nutella”?
Why did you have to remind me of Cheese & Pickle sandwiches? I suddenly feel homesick.
Follow Pete and his mad adventures on Englishman in Italy and learn how to always look on the bright side of life in true English spirit.
I’m the founder of Evoking Grace, a coaching program designed to inspire others to be their very best while bringing ease and balance into their everyday life. I can be contacted by email for more details on the work I offer or to schedule a free “Wisdom Within Session“. Follow my mumbling & musings on Facebook , Twitter & Pinterest to be part of my “online tribe”.