Hi all of you, brothers and sisters!
Since I am aware of the fact that of you want to know about life in Italy and some have already asked me about it, I decided to create this thread on this topic.
I must premise that I will take the opportunity to promote tourism in my beloved South. You think it is proper, don't you?
FOOD. Let's start with the thing you appreciate the most. I know you keep going to the usual touristic cities, like Venice or Rome. You go to restaurants in these cities, which are expensive as such, and plus they make you pay a double bill because you come from abroad. If you dare to venture to the beloved land of Dixie of ours, you will be able to find 100% true Italian food in supermarkets or accross the street... Well, you may argue that it seems to be illegal to sell food accross the street, but you must know that our People is not very attached to rules and the Southern people even less. It's just normal like that.
...Well, as I was saying, in the South the prices are lower and if you are far from centres of interest they are even lower.
In my area (province of Bari) olive oil, cabbage, broccoli, cherries, almonds, grapes come from fields 30 miles far at most.
More fresh than that?! You could rent a small house and stay there for one month and buy the food you want and cook it by yourself - if you are able to. That'd definitely be a very cheap vacation. And then in Puglia we have hills, mountains and sea all within a distance of 70 miles.
CLOTHES. The second one. You see a sign: TRUSSARDI? Walk past. You could also find good products in the local markets which usually take place in our cities once a week. They consist in restricted areas where stands are set up and more than one sort of things (mostly clothes) are sold. You can even find well-know brands. In some cases there are clothes and shoes which you would pay twice as much in shops.
They will probably let you enter a van so that you can have a little bit of privacy to wear what you are willing to buy. Let them know it was very comfortable in there, although dark. Hey, I'm not saying that all clothes there are made in Italy: many of them are Chinese or from Eastern Europe. But if you are able to understand what they put under your nose, fine. Oh, and I must add that these markets are legal - often. You should know that sometimes the same small factories present in our area which used to make shoes for big brands, like NIKE, before they asked Bulgarians to make them, make shoes for not famous brands, but their quality is high.
ON PAYING. You should know that if you go far from big cities you will find that means to pay via credit card practically DO NOT EXIST. We are very attached to that appealing scent which makes you feel you're richer than before... Or we just find any means to evade taxes.
...If they don't give you any receipt: it's just normal. Do them a favour: don't ask for it.
STUDYING. More than 90% of people choose State-owned schools. I don't know how much we can talk of choice, since there has never been a strong effort to support private schools, like in other European countries. A thing I can appreciate is that you could pay just about 300 EUROES per year at the university or even nothing if you are really poor. But transportation and other costs are at your expense.
DEBTS. A thing which I like very much of our custom is that we only buy what we can afford, although the tendency to get into private debt is spreading. Interests rate are very high (6,00% on a mortgage), so that's probably why debts are not frequent.
RESPECT. Is not very common, especially in the South. If you blame me because I have committed an infringment, the problem is you. So hold your tongue... It may sound funny - and it is, to see people thinking and acting strangely - but it is how many people here actually think when you stop at the "STOP" sign and they don't like it. In addition, it is considered normal in my area to use tissue and throw them along the street. So maybe the first thing you notice when comparing a nothern town to a southern one is grime. And then maybe chaos.
ORDER. Especially in some areas in the South people are more likely solve things by themselves, because they know the police wouldn't care much or you would have to spend many years in a court of law just to achieve just nothing. Or maybe it's just the way they think.
For example, if someone usually parks so that he impedes access to yours, you tell him, then scratch his car the next time. But there are more than one who wouldn't even warn you. Someone even pretends to have a right to park in an area and puts fake signs to warn you. If you don't respect their warning you get your car damaged, sometimes very seriously.
Well, there are so many things I didn't write about... Feel free to discuss and ask!