You wouldn’t get away with that in England…

18 Feb

When I was in Bordeaux I had a little feature for things that I had deemed ‘too good’ for England, because we can’t help but ruin anything remotely nice or cultural. In Italy I’ve noticed they’re a bit rougher around the edges and a bit more exciting, so instead I’m going to devote a post to ‘things that you can get away with here but would probably get you arrested in England’.


Since Spoleto isn’t very well served by public transport, I rely on other people driving me around a lot. Italian driving leaves a lot to be desired. Sorry if I offend anyone who’s driven me anywhere here, I’m probably not talking about you, unless I already told you while you were driving how terrified I was. Some standard driving sins I’ve witnessed include:

Driving with no hands on the motorway at night so they could text someone.

Driving bumper to bumper with the car in front at 90mph when there isn’t even anyone else on the motorway.

Doing various manoeuvres/3 pointers/turns in the road 1 handed while on the phone.

Not signalling anywhere ever.

Having the interior lights on at night…I find this annoying while I’m driving anyway so why some people do it I don’t know.

Parking absolutely anywhere – some of the best I’ve seen include people parking perpendicular to the road over a zebra crossing.

One particularly spectacular manoeuvre I saw the other week was when a woman in an estate was trying to reverse onto the road from a diagonal parking space (could not have been easier). She somehow missed the road entirely and instead edged closer and closer to a lamppost until she mounted the curb it was built into, but didn’t quite hit it. She then looked back to see the lamppost nearly touching her rear window, and made the logical decision to slam it back a bit further, putting a massive dent in her bumper. Smooth.

When I asked a friend here about how different the rules of the road are to England, she told me that they’re the same, Italians just don’t give a shit. Fair play to them.


Berlusconi. And everything he’s ever done.


Italian TV is a bit of a mixed bag. I haven’t watched that much Italian-made programming apart from the news and a couple of talent shows, but a lot of what is broadcast here is American (or occasionally British) with Italian dubbing over the top. I have to say it’s pretty well done, the voices are surprisingly similar to the original actors, although I can’t comment on how accurate the translations are as I probably only catch about 50% of what they say.

The other thing that puts me off Italian TV slightly is the fact that loads of channels, including 3 main terrestrial ones, are owned by Mediaset which is controlled by Berlusconi. Ugh. It’s like if Rupert Murdoch were in power in the UK.

They get away with a lot more during pre-watershed hours, such as adverts for some kind of skin-firming oil where there were just 3 scantily-clad women rubbing themselves. Not the sort of Sunday afternoon TV I’m used to. The Nivea shower cream ads also feature at least 37% more sideboob than the ones in England.


A few other bits:

Not being able to pay by card in some large, popular restaurants.

All shops closing between 1 and 4, including supermarkets. This is a massive issue for me, as I’d class 1pm-4pm as my key ‘doing things’ time. I know Italians like to have proper sit-down full meals for lunch, but even then I think 3 hours is a bit much. Economically it’s pretty ridiculous too, when you think about how much money UK businesses must make from people popping out to sort things/buy lunch on their break.

Most people I’ve met here are aware of how bad the internet is outside of Rome or Milan, as the country just hasn’t got the infrastructure to offer decent speeds in the first place. A quick bit of research has just told me that only 46% of families have broadband access, and that the government is aiming to get high-speed internet out by 2020. Bleak. Another friend who spent a few weeks in Cambridge told me at his shock when he went online and pages loaded straight away.


A couple of recent happenings

To top-up bus passes here, you put them into a marking meter and put some change in. I managed to do it wrong and the machine didn’t register that I had put my pass in, so instead I bought myself 3 hours and 17 minutes of roadside parking. And had no more change to take the bus.

At the supermarket in the first couple of weeks there were a lot of words I didn’t understand, but I eat most things so thought it wouldn’t be a problem. I picked up a surprisingly cheap pack of mince, then found once I was home (with the help of Google translate) that it was in fact a mystery mix of beef, pork, and chicken. To be honest though, at €2.22 for 400g I don’t even care if it’s horse meat.

In the classroom

One of my new aims is to teach the kids in year 5 the difference between Big Ben and the Big Bang (they usually combine it together to make the Big Beng, which I like to imagine as a very extravagant British version of the beginning of the universe, complete with bunting and Victoria sponge). Some of them have also mixed up Queen (the one with the curly-haired guy who plays guitar) and The Queen (the one with the curly-haired woman who doesn’t play guitar). Many of the girls also mistakenly believe that One Direction are valid as a form of music. I’ll sort it out though.

This morning I had my first experience of having properly disruptive students who really don’t care about learning. In one class there were 3 of them who ganged up together and refused to do any work. Eventually one disappeared to the toilet, the other mutely ignored everything I said and wouldn’t do anything, and the third managed to curl up in the foetal position on top of a bookshelf while my back was turned.

Sights of the day

Sadly I was too ill to join in the festivities of Carnevale last week but luckily the parade went past my apartment so I got some shots of the weird and wonderful floats that went past.

Giant caterpillar Hay ale Boat Another boat


3 Responses to “You wouldn’t get away with that in England…”

  1. yescox February 18, 2013 at 21:45 #

    Louise these keep getting better and better! The roadside parking has to be my favourite one yet.
    Also, the car situation is similar here in Spain, I was in a friends car, and we were parked in a tight spot, instead of making a 50 point turn like we would at home, he just reversed INTO the car behind, and took off…. Wasn’t sure whether to be appalled or congratulate him.

    • louiseineurope February 18, 2013 at 21:51 #

      Hahaha I don’t think parking sensors have made it over here yet…their way of knowing whether they’re near another car is to just keep reversing until they hit it. Then they know they’re close.

  2. Cecilia February 23, 2013 at 21:59 #

    That mix pack of meat you bought is what my dad gets for our dog! Supermarkets sell the ‘worst’ bits for cats and dogs! But hey, if you are not a vegetarian, then it’s just meat, even if it comes from different animals!

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