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Category: Baffling

A statue in The City of Como (Lake Como, Lombardy, Italy)

The Notorious Italian “Furbizia”

Since living in Italy, it’s become abundantly clear that there’s a cultural concept Jason and I are (and have been) entirely unaware of. It’s something Italian’s know well and are always on the lookout for, but we have been blind to.

It’s called: furbizia.

The word furbo often means “clever” — but also “sly”, “sharp”, “crafty”, and so on. It’s more sinister meaning is what typically prevails: clever in the sense of “taking advantage” for one’s own personal gain.

Which is a virtue in this country? I’m not sure.
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Running the race with Fernando's wife (Val di Non, Italy)

A Snowless Snowshoe Race: Val di Non’s “Ciaspolada”

The gun sounded and they were off. Their pronged snowshoes digging into the trail, sending snow spray in a zealous arc behind them. These were the die hard competitors, leaving the rest of us in the proverbial “dust” at Val di Non’s Ciaspolada snowshoe race that day.

I tried to take it all in — the news helicopters circling overhead, the building-sized sponsor banners, the fanfare and commotion of so many people at one winter sports event. And as I looked out at the land beyond the snowy trail, trying to gauge the distance to the finish line, all I could see was green.

That’s right: green (or greenish-brown, really). (more…)

A "Watch Your Step" sign on a train in Trentino (Italy).
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5 Things Italy Did Not Warn Me About

In most American’s minds, life in Italy could only be wonderful and marvelous. We must all be dancing around in the streets with our Fendi bags and pasta forks, waiting for the always-on-time train to whisk us to the blue sea for sun bathing and holidays.

This could not be farther from the truth. Plenty of parts of Italian living are uncustomary, if not outright baffling, even after living here over three years. So to help you in your travels or expat living, here’s a list of 5 things I wish I’d known about prior to moving here:

1. No exchanges, no returns

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Dirt motorbike

Spring In Val di Non (aka “Dirt Motorbike Season”)

Springtime, in most places, is a gentle season — a welcomed reprieve from winter’s frosty dull. Things start slowly coming alive, grasses poking their verdant heads above the warming soils, flowers opening like untended wishes. Winter is finally abating, as the landscape is almost imperceptibly colored in.

But springtime in Val di Non is not like this. It’s an outright assault to the senses. (more…)

A four-wheeler driving through the town square in Cavareno (Val di Non, Italy)

Moving Around – Val di Non Style

One of the wonders of Val di Non is that you’re not limited to conventional modes of transportation*. Due to it’s wealth of farm fields, paved cycling paths, forested roads, trails, and general lack of car traffic, alternative transportation modes abound.

TRACTOR

After a day plowing the fields or shoveling snow, why bother heading home to change vehicles? Just drive straight on down to the bar, the grocery, or the bank atop your trusty ‘Fiat’ (the John Deer of Italian tractors). Due to your size, you can park absolutely anywhere you’d like, no questions asked.

Look here, there’s more!

Close-up of man's hands bricklaying (spreading mortar between bricks.).

Construction Trauma

Before moving to Italy, I couldn’t have ever said, “I’ve been traumatized by construction.” But after living in this country for the past three years, I can say that now. It must be part of the initiation phase:

-Do you have what it takes to live in this country? 
-I’m not sure…
-Well you’ll soon find out. Because Italy doesn’t give a damn whether you make it… Hey look, there’s more!

Horse figurines

Horse Meat, Anyone?

Horse is not my first choice of meats. Cow, pork, chicken—those are the usual ones. Duck, rabbit, even venison or buffalo are all acceptable animals to eat. But horses? They are friends, not food.

Being from Kentucky, and having ridden horses all my life, I always swore that horse was the one meat I could never eat. Yet I seem to be a homing device for bizarre foods: sea snails, cow tongue, haggis, blood sausage, tripe, geoduck, crocodile, and hippopotamus—I’ve tried them all (drawing the line at goat’s eyeballs).

But call it peer pressure, chock it up to an impulsive thirst for adventure, blame it on a moment of insanity…the truth is, when faced with the option (and the challenge), I broke down.

I ate horse. Giddyup for more!