Archives for July 2014

Are we becoming Italian?

We’ve been amused by an article  about Living in Italy from Swide magazine, which says that as expats here, no matter how much we fight it, no matter how we cling to our cultural identity, we become a little bit Italian. It says: “Living it Italy is intoxicating. Being surrounded by so much beauty on a daily basis is bound to have an effect. But modern Italy’s chaotic ways, little by little weave a charm on even the most stubborn of foreigners. When you live in Italy, it may take a year, it may take a decade, but eventually you will become Italian.”

We can feel it happening!  This is how I feel inside these days, although the reality may be a little different!


Swide tells us that there are 20 signs that we’ve been living in Italy too long and are becoming Italian.  Among them: “You know you’ve been in Italy too long when you start speaking English like a 14-year-old Italian student. When you want to tell someone ‘hang on, I’ll be with you in a minute’ and it comes out as ‘wait, I’m arriving’, or when, on the phone you tell someone you’ll be arriving ‘by feet’, maybe it’s time to brush up on your English, maybe you need lessons. You can give them to yourself, €20 per hour.”

Keep calm english lesson

Or there is what the article calls Darwinian queuing strategy: You know you’ve been in Italy too long when queuing means hovering around in a crowd with elbows out and a total disregard for the person standing next to you as you blatantly sidle your way in front of them. When you first arrived in Italy the sight of Italians jostling for position in a shapeless ‘queue’ filled you with dismay, now though, you have become one of them, and you are ruthless. The others ‘shall not pass’. You no longer quietly go to the end of the queue to take you place, but instead simply appear in the middle and nonchalantly step in, staring straight ahead, apparently oblivious to any other people around you. If some calls you out on it, you just say “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise this was a queue!” and stay exactly where you are.”

Is this a queue? I didn't realise!

Is this a queue? I didn’t realise!

We’ll share some other signs of Italianisation in a later blog, but in the meantime, especially for the ladies, here are some Dolce and Gabbana  male models with some very Italian everyday gestures!  Please click hereMama mia!





A short walk in the Appennines

AppenninesSimon Temple, who came as a non-painting partner on Mike Willdridge’s recent painting course at the mill, had an energetic week, enjoying walks in the surrounding countryside – and one long walk in the high Appennines, Italy’s backbone, whose peaks can be seen from the mill.

He took an 8.30 am bus from the nearby walled town of Fivizzano to the Passo del Cerreto, the pass between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, part of the National Park of this area. We had bought a map for him from our local bookshop and following it he was able to find a waymarked trial to the top of Monte La Nuda.

Here’s one of his photographs from the walk:

Simon 1

Simon says: “I then carried on along the waymarked path for about another 2 kilometres. This did not get me to another peak but did provide some extra views. I returned the same way, stopping off to have a look at the bothy, Bivacco Rosario, which is just above the tree line. This gave me time for a quick beer before getting the return bus.”

Simon adds: “The path is clear throughout and very well waymarked. Overall, it was an excellent walk with great views. But it is steep in parts, quite remote and I guess the weather could change very quickly, so I would only recommend it for reasonably experienced hill walkers.” Here’s another lovely high Appennine photo from Simon.

Simon 2

Thank you for these insights, Simon. We’ll be putting Simon’s full report on the ‘Partners’ Programme’ at the mill, for other non-painting partners (and non-writing partners, too) to follow in your footsteps!