Solid Gold Hits. In Second Place,… Cultural Differences.

I first published this in February 2016. It continues to be regularly viewed, mostly in the USA and it is my most liked post ever. It certainly generated many comments due to my confusion over whether the reported behaviour is due to the cultural divide or reflects poor behaviour in any culture.

I am an introvert and content to travel alone. Near the end of 2015 I had travelled through Sicily and Naples and near the end of my stay, met up with an Italian friend in Rome . In the short time I spent with him, I was overwhelmed by him, just by him being himself. I have since read a hilarious blog post on the reasons Italian men are challenging for a non-Italian and it was good to see that I am not alone.

The behaviour in question:

-he is completely unreliable; he might call, he might not, he might show up, he might not, if he does show up, he might head off at any time…

-he is very careful with his money. He offers to pay for a meal, but I can see he is pained by it, (in his Italian way), so (in my English way), I feel guilty and end up paying for everything thereafter. He is happier,…and I’m annoyed.

-he is controlling. He instructs me on what I should do while I’m in Rome down to the hour and then afterwards, I’m grilled about whether I did it. He would, however, never give away any information regarding his own activity.

-how he shops; omg. Shopping with him was torture. It goes something like this: he puts it on, he parades around the store and at every mirror stops and looks at himself from every possible angle. I am repeatedly asked for my opinion. Repeatedly. More parading, more requiring of my attention, more mirror angles. Endlessly on it goes and seems to needs my attention throughout. Finally, in a state of empty husk syndrome I wander off to look in the next shop and he’s hurt! He is very grumpy. When he finds me he lets me know he couldn’t make his purchasing decision because I had let him down. Much later, he says in an offhand manner over a glass of vino, “I didn’t need it anyway, I have lots of jackets”. I’m speechless.

-his talking. He talked incessantly; it was like having a radio on news talkback. Except, it can’t be turned off.  I hid in the cafe toilet and stayed down there for about 5 minutes just to have a rest. I was mentally exhausted. I just hung out and breathed and let the quiet seep in. Another time, I asked him if we could separate for an hour or so and meet up again. He looked stricken. I couldn’t do it in the end. The anger over politics and taxation, and lazy public servants. So much frustration. So much to talk about!

-his disapproval. I didn’t dress like an Italian woman, I drank too much water, I didn’t drink coffee! On it went…

-his opinions. A woman wanting to work instead of looking after her children is not a good wife. A woman should not need her own income, she should rely on her husband’s money. A woman wanting expensive clothes and beauty procedures is not a good wife. (But then somehow she is meant to look stunningly beautiful on the money he supplies, like an Italian woman, no doubt).

-his disdain of smartphones, connectedness, social media, wifi and Blogs.

On the other hand, my lovely Italian friend, (who I doubt will ever see this as he mentioned he would never read the work of an unskilled writer), gave me so much with his time and patience, showing me every site I had hoped to see on my map.

The Aventine keyhole view of St Peters that was an outside dream, the crypt of Bernini, the view of the Colosseum from the university, St Peter in chains with its Moses. He conjured up a vision of how the Augustus forum would’ve looked when covered in marble and blinding white in the sun. He took me to Quirinale hill, the Trastevere markets; the Jewish quarter where he bought me artichoke. Quattro fontane and Caravaggio, tromp l’eil domes and Ara Pacis. The moon rise from Gianicolo hill.

For all his Italian ways he was a lovely friend to me.

One thought on “Solid Gold Hits. In Second Place,… Cultural Differences.

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