Top 5 things Rome is teaching us:
1.Eating a donut filled with chocolate or custard is not only acceptable at 8am, it is considered the cornerstone of a healthy breakfast.
If ever I had any doubts if Rome was the city for me, then those doubts are well and truly banished. These are not just donuts. These are packed-to-the-gills, fully loaded, nay bloated, bombas of unadulterated full fat ‘goloso’ donuts that will sit in your tummy for hours. One of these go hand in (sticky) hand with industrial strength espresso, enough to get you well on your way to work. Just don’t think about the depths of the sugar and caffeine low lurking around the corner, ready to clobber you around the head.
2.There is no such thing as a refund here.
Once you pay your money, it’s gone. That receipt you have in your hand is not for “If you change your mind” no quabble policies you get in the UK and US (dreamy sigh), oh no, no, no. The purpose of the receipt is two fold, so far as I can see:
1. It’s the chance to produce and circulate more paperwork
2. To ward off the Guarda di Finanza, the police force who focus only dodgy tax bills. These guys often carry out “raids” on restaurants or bars which have invariably been tipped off a few days in advance, usually by an insider. Like the Queen thinking everywhere smells of fresh paint, these guys presumably wonder where everyone goes out to eat.
3. Sunny days are the norm – all that snow business was a red herring. It is now only March and on more than one occasion already I have had to run for shade. The locals of course are still wearing scarves and chunky blue shiny puffer jackets (although we haven’t seen any more ill-fitting day-glo ski suits since the snow melted).
4. Forget that ‘Friday Feeling’, it’s all about that ‘Sunday Sensation’; Sundays are the highlight of the week here. We are now starting to get the taste for ‘Buona Domenica”. This, in my opinion, is one of the many positives of living in Italy. Post 3pm, I always felt that Sundays were the wind-down. Let’s face it: you can’t put lipstick on a pig. Sunday evenings are just plain horrendous, and no amount of Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith playing fancy dress in a big house is going to change that. Whatever you have lined up for your Sunday, be it a hangover, a lazy pub lunch, a cinema trip, a takeaway curry, or all of the above, it is all designed to take your mind off the pending brutality of the Monday morning alarm clock. Sunday’s here though, are starting to take on a new form for us. Sundays are when the city slips to a more relaxed gear, and Good Lord, does it need a breather every 7 days. At first we found it strange and inconvenient that everything bar the pasticceria shops close their shutters firmly outside Centro Storico. The Pasticceria is pretty much the only thing that I reckon you could get ahold of 24/7 (on a side note when you see a sign for “24 Ore, no-stop”, don’t believe a word for it. “No-stop” comes with a biro- scratched-A4-sheet-selloptaped-to the-window-caveat, usually something like: “No-stop *Except lunchtimes, Saturday evenings and all of Sunday. Closes at 6pm every day”).
So Sundays are about visiting your old Mamma or close friends (if you can get permission from Mamma) and everyone seems to look forward to it. People greet each other on Saturday, wishing a ‘Buona Domenica’ with enthusiastic gusto; it irks me a little – why would anyone wish their Saturday away for a Sunday? We’re not quite there yet but, if the custard stuffed donuts for breakfast are anything to go by, it won’t be long before we consider Sunday mornings the new Friday night.
5. ‘Sono eccitata’ (I am excited) is to be used only in intimate/erotic situations.
It should not be used to describe your enthusiasm about the prospect of meeting someone/going for coffee/starting a job. In all of such instances, and more, I have employed this phrase in the past 6 months. Note to Italians: correct us stupid English people when we get your language wrong. Grazie.