The Nourishing Maze of Italy

Alexandra Mezza is a student at Notre Dame of Maryland University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Rome, Italy.

In preparation for this final blog post, I asked my roommates what they would have liked to know about Rome before coming. In the time we discussed this question, we realized that while there are many ‘stereotypes’ of Italy nestled in truth, there are also hundreds of things that one never expects to find. Here are what we considered to be the most important things to know.

1. Italy is a nourishing maze. A true stereotype of Italians involves their intense love of food. Italians love good food with good people. Food is a strong piece of culture for Italians. Nuances, such as never drinking a cappuccino past ten in the morning, become unspoken creeds. That being said, the maze that is Italy is a nourishing one because most of Italian culture can be discovered during a meal.

Pizzaria, Naples, Italy, Mezza- Photo One
Pizza in Naples with my roommate. The more hodgepodge the interior decoration, the more legit the pizza.

2. Italians are not quick people. They quite literally heed the words of Augustus Caesar, “Make haste slowly.” Of course, Augustus meant one should work quickly, but efficiently. Modern Italians take it to mean, “Keep cool.” They don’t walk quickly, their public transport never comes on time, and Rome is not bothered at all by this. Time goes on, and Rome has seen it pass for thousands of years, so it’s not bothered anymore. A dinner can last four hours, of course. Romans have time to spare for good conversation.

Park, Rome, Italy, Mezza- Photo Two
A couple walking in the park and enjoying the day. Photo courtesy of Anna Shipman.

3. Romans dress well. The presentation of a person is important, it is a source of pride, so much so that it is almost rude to underdress. This doesn’t mean that you will be publicly shunned (although Romans are not afraid of staring), but it does mean that you should take the time to wear something other than your pajamas to class.

4. Italians are family oriented. They go to the park with their children, they show open (and sometimes excessive) affection toward their loved ones. Sure, it’s shocking to see teenagers making out at the bus stop, but that acceptance of open affection also allows you to see fathers cuddling their kids and families getting impassioned over a card game. It means that a meal is something shared between people who care for each other, and if you are allowed to share in that, it means you are cared for.

Street, Rome, Italy, Mezza- Photo Three
Superman and his mother. Photo courtesy of Anna Shipman.

Of course, other advice can be summed up like bullet points. Don’t bring heels, the cobblestones will make you want to die. Bring peanut butter because you can buy five packages of pasta for the price of one peanut butter tub. Get used to drying your clothes on drying racks and waiting three days for your jeans to be wearable. Ignore the guys with the selfie sticks. They’re everywhere and they’re annoying. (You don’t need a selfie stick. I promise!). And, of course, have fun. Have the time of your life, wherever you go. But if you’re in Rome, say hi to it for me. I hope you love it as much as I do.

The world awaits…discover it.

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