After more than two years since I moved in London, I am now able to tell all the features apart and recognize my fellow citizens.
At the beginning you do not understand why, because you only know that those two guys in front of you on the train look so familiar as you spent your childhood together, and that lady, who you have just come across with, reminds you of Mrs.Teresa, your grannie’s neighbor (“I swear! That was her!”), but actually you have never met them in your life.
Overall we are italian and we need just a glance to recognize each other. First it is your intinct, your motherland is calling you through signs you cannot decode, but then, while you are becoming part of your new world, eventually you realize, analyse, and get it.
I have been asked often by people from other countries “how can you tell they are italians?” Sometimes it is just a feeling, usually it is all the rest. London is not that far, and it has become the most popular city to spend a weekend in, so I’m crossing and recognizing italians on daily basis. So here I am with my 10 clues list, on which I think we should agree. Somebody will enjoy about, someone else will frown on it starting with the who-are-you-to-label-one-week-holiday-hardworker-people song. I am anybody but an italian abroad, good observer, and I just think we all are really funny.
From the most common to the less obvious, which one do you notice?
1. Shouting and hand-talking in public
There is nothing we can do about. On the train “Next one is our stop!” has to be heard even in the last carriage, otherwise is completely pointless. If people around look pretty scared is because that loud behaviour is usually related to argues and fights… until someone will say “Don’t worry, they’re Italians”.
And why on earth don’t you emphasize urgency and priority of what you’re saying with your wavy hands? I’m not any longer into the talking-hands routine and when I’m meeting my friends and relatives I’m always lost because I’m falling under the hand choreography spell.
Don’t make your head big for sharing the nationality with the exclusive designers of our time, because we are not in the same page. Horror vacui is a must, and that’s it. Beanie with Capital letters Brand (f.i. Emporio Armani), thick and blingy belt (f.i. Gucci), quilted shiny jacket (f.i. Moncler) and obviously Trainers. You will find two different trainers styles:
a. Hogan trainers: the reason of this captivating (really?) look is still unknown, anyway you will see most of italian females between 20 and 65 y.o. wearing them .
b. the white trainers, clean, no better…IMMACULATE: why they are compulsory on vacation in London is an inexplicable mistery, and why they’re always so white during all the holiday time is even more complicated.
It does not make any sense counting all the pouches and bags you’ve got, because you’re still looking for your hotel room keys in that inner pocket in the bag No.3.
No matter what weather, and who cares if in London it’s raining three quarters of the year, Sunnies are THE ultimate Holiday-status icon, even if it’s 8pm and you’re in a pub. That’s a really hard habit to quit with, even if it seems quite easy I’m still fighting though.
4. Bread and Coffee
In London, as all over the world, bread does not come with every course. And espresso is never going to be good as that one you’re drinking at Gigi the Bitch’s, next to your place. I know, eating-with-no-bread is such a shame, and espresso is not like Coke, everywhere the same, but complaining with waiters and baristas does not make it any better. Unless Gigi the Bitch is near around, then trying is more than worth.
5. English Supermarket are tourist-friendly
From Tesco to Marks & Spencer, central London is plenty of supermarkets, so if you do not like restaurants, they should be explored. Rarely I have seen italian tourists coming inside, even just for a bottle of water. I know that missing your Salumiere could be a little bit intense, however doughnuts and 50 shades of Sandwiches are ready to balance your loss. Free entry.
A couple or more of holiday mates, glued between each other, on the tube seats focused on staring at people. Eye-contact ready to scan every single human being passing by and a strong body-contact with their pack for bluetooth sharing data. That’s until they will find the right subject, usually
a. a weirdo, with bizarre oufit
b. an unxpected smart-looking person, because of that plain, not loudly labeled style
c. Hey! That’ another italian on board!
Scannering is comlpusory until the end on the ride, no matter if you could catch them doing that, that’s a special mission, they cannot take their eyes off of you. Call it James Bond under cover situation.
The Italian tourist has always a meal schedule, which is strictly followed. And you will never see one of them eating while walking or on the tube. In this case because they are too busy on the Detective-mode. However I’ve found very hard myself to break the meal-rule, no way!
8. For meee
You’re in the queue, waiting for your daily coffee dose (nope, it ain’t Gigi the Bitch’s espresso, get over it!), or perhaps you are that one who’s taking the orders, when someone begins with a singing “For mehee”, with a following usual Cappuccino. In that moment you will know you’re facing an Italian tourist 2.0, Google translator in human version.
9. I know English
When an italian is going to ask to an Italian tourist (a young one) “How’s going with your English?” That’s the answer you will have, straight and confident. However you could speak English, never stop learning but you won’t know the language, unless you mean you know it does exist…
10. London is full of Italians!
It happens very often when you start to speak in italian with them just to make them feel more comfortable, and you’re going to regret that straight away after hearing this sentence. The Italian tourist does not know
a. that the person in front of them is actually italian until they speak italian;
b. about their bad English level, and their loudly way to speak italian in public.
Usually if someone is willing to be helpful, gratitude is the only way to deal with, innit?
Well, here comes your score! How many clues have you ticked?
From 0 to 3 – You are living abroad or you have too much pride to admit you’re travelling just with your full bag set of 7 pieces
From 4 to 6 – Sunnies are always with you, Hogan trainers World Cup collection 2014 only
From 7 to 10 – Congrats! You know english, you are Gigi the Bitch.