Italian Culture - in a Nutshell

Getting Things Done in Italy


Italy; The Melting Pot

Driving in Naples
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An American Living in Italy:
(in) Conveniences


    At first I didn't notice the little things that I had become accustomed to were missing.  Well, in some cases they are missing while in others they are simply done a different way.  However, as time went on I became painfully aware of these little differences.   For those impatient readers I will cut  to the chase.  Italy is less convenient than the USA.  Here are some reasons why.

    In America there is a little shop you may have heard of...  7-11.  There is one on every corner and they are open all hours of the day and night and on every day of the year.   There are 24 hour super markets and even 24 hour Wal Mart stores.  In Italy, there are no 7-11 stores.  Shops open at 9 am and close at 12 pm.  Then they re-open in the evening between 3 pm and 9 pm.  And if it is Sunday....  Forget it!  ...You must learn to plan ahead.

     In Italy air conditioning is a rare thing.  ...very rare.

     In short.  No drive-thru's.  I'm not a big fan of fast food, but there are times when this convenience is nice to have. I don't miss them every day, but sometimes I would kill to be able to get a burger and fries on the fly. 

    Restaurants open at 8pm in Italy.  One must become accustomed to dining late.

    I think that I mentioned this in the driving article, but in Italy freeways are not free.  As a matter of fact all freeways are toll roads.  You must stop every so often to pay up. 

    In the US garbage disposals and dish washers are not used strictly by the rich and influential. 

    In the US garbage is picked up from your residence on a weekly basis.  In Italy, garbage is not collected at your home.  You must transport the garbage to the curb side dumping locations.   They are huge mountains of refuse that are removed once a week. (barring a workers strike - a frequent occurence)  ...not just inconvenient, smelly too.  



    Also, in Italy there are rarely electrical outlets placed in convenient locations in all of the rooms.  For example;  in the kitchen of my apartment there are no electrical outlets on the wall behind the counter!  There are only 3 outlets and they are on the other side of the room!  By the way, when I say three outlets I mean room for 3 plugs.  Outlets are not all doubled like they are in the States.  And for this you pay through the nose.  I have the economical 3000 watt service.  This is a pain.  We have to be very careful not to overload our connection.  For instance;  we can not use the blow dryer and the iron at the same time because if the refrigerator kicks on while both of these items are in use the circuit breaker will blow.  Also, we have to unplug the refrigerator and turn off the TV if we want to use the microwave.  Also, every outlet in our apartment is wired to a single 10 amp breaker.  when we first arrived we were blowing the breakers at lest 3 times a week.  As nearly a year has passed since we arrived we are adapting.  Now we only overload the circuit once or twice a month. 

    One last electrical issue; plug compatibility.  In the US we have "2 prong" or "3 prong".  Period.  Furthermore a "2 prong" plug will work in a "3 prong" outlet.  In Italy all outlets are 3 round prongs.  That sounds good, however, I am not done yet.  There are "wide" plugs, "narrow" plugs, wide-thick prong, wide thin-prong, narrow thick-prong and narrow thin-prong.   And these things are bulky, large, and just plain ugly.  Because outlets are so scarce there is a need to gang up several adapters and plugs on each outlet.  It becomes quite a hideous sight.  What a pain.

   Also in my apartment there is a hookup for the washing machine in one of the bathrooms while the hookups for the dryer are in the kitchen.  Figure that one out.

   Natural gas.  In the US we generally have a city gas line that runs to our home.  Not in many areas in southern Italy.  In Italy, if you are not in an city gas area, you have a couple options.  Install a large 500 liter gas tank and get a delivery once a month or buy bombola.  Bombola are like the big brother of the LP gas container that you would see fueling a BBQ.   To purchase bombola one must pack up the  empty canisters and drive them over to a bombola retailer (remember the limited business hours!) and pick up replacements.  Heaven forbid that you don't have a spare and you run out on a Sunday.  Pizza night!  No, they don't do delivery in my area.  I asked my landlord about getting delivery and he looked at me, chuckled, and said "Bring pizza? your house?"  Then he started laughing a little harder as he turned to walk away.   I think they probably have delivery downtown, but not all over.

   Well that should give you some idea of how spoiled we are as Americans (or at least how spoiled I am).  All-in-all life is just a bit easier when you are living in the United States.  I could go on, but the articles in this series are supposed to be short. So let me say in conclusion...  Despite the inconveniences, the country is beautiful, the people are warm and friendly, and it is a great place to live.

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