I am officially an ExPat. When I first heard this term, I thought it was a negative connotation. I pictured disgruntled Americans stomping on the American flag and dissing life in the States. Perhaps after the November election, this may be the case and the ExPat population will increase throughout the world.
But for now, being an ExPat in Tuscany is a lot more fun than I had imagined.
I have made more friends here in one month than I have in my whole life in the US. My ExPat friends have made me feel welcome, answered my stupid questions with patience and offered me valuable advice, such as in a 2-cheek kiss greeting, you kiss the left cheek first. It eliminates the awkward bumping of noses. Thank you Abel..
But I also have learned ....
- Dogs are welcome everywhere and especially loved by elderly nonnas.
- When I pull up to the self- service pump at a Gas Station, an attendant always appears to pump my gas. This confuses me.
- There is a Festival here for everything...including the snail. And I don't mean escargots, I mean the snail crawling on my bushes in the garden. He's called lumaca and he tastes wonderful over pasta, or so I'm told. I refuse to go there.
-The wild boar, or cinghiale, is also loved ( and hated ) in Tuscany. He is extremely ugly and rips up the grass and vegetation in your yard and feeds on the beloved grapes in the vineyards. He is hunted between November and January and then becomes a local delicacy, Pappardelle Cinghiale. It seems everything here finds its way onto a plate. I'm keeping my eye on Stella.
- In the supermarket, you must bag your fruits and vegetables, weigh them and then put the price tag on them. If you show up at the register without doing this you get serious stink eye from everyone in the line.
-The bread given in restaurants is completely tasteless and devoid of any salt. It will make you want to cut out carbs completely. Back in the middle ages, salt was heavily taxed in Tuscany and bakers started making their bread without it, and hence it is still made this way. Someone needs to tell them that the tax has ceased long ago. To add insult to this, restaurants will charge you for 'pane', though they really should be paying you for your future digestion problems from eating it. I am going to start taking it home and letting it sit out for a couple days to harden. It could be a used as a weapon in case of an emergency.-.
-I always wondered why people had their shutters closed in their homes and lived a monk-like existence. You'd think they would want to let the sunlight in. Though after spending a few boiling hot days here, I realized to keep your home cool ( because a/c is practically non existent ) you must close the shutters early in the day.
- I love the directions and signs on the roadways in Italy, especially the roundabout. Wherever you need to go is labeled very well. And if you're confused when you get in the roundabout, you can keep going around and around until you figure out which direction you need to go. Granted, you will look like an idiot doing this.
- The supermarkets charge you a one euro deposit for a shopping cart. I spent 10 minutes one day trying to wrestle one out of the line up of shopping carts before I realized they are locked and you needed to pay for it. I feel insulted by this pettiness and vow not to use a shopping cart in the future. I'll show them.
My life here is full....with love for a new country, new friends, new beginnings, too much pasta and way too much wine...but for now that's how I like it.