The Inside Track, or ‘Ugh, I got it on my shoes!’

A full month has slipped by me. I never claimed to be a good blogger. In fact, I have many times owned up to being a very bad blogger. Every time I have the opportunity to sit down a write I have the following conversation in my head:

‘You should write a blog post.’

‘Yes. I will. Right after I repack my bag/wash my socks/change out of my work clothes/finish this pizza/get to the next town.’


But, I have wanted to write a post about a few of the odd things about Italy. I think a multiple choice quiz might be the most interesting way to present it. So, here goes:

1. Which of the following CAN be located in most Italian Schools?

A) A coffee machine

B) Toilet paper

C) A registration office

Answer: A, a coffee machine. I have yet to visit a school that doesn’t have a coffee machine offering at least 4 kinds of coffee in addition to cappuccino, tea, and hot chocolate.

However, if you are looking to relieve yourself in the school’s facilities, think again. Check before you enter because the students are generally required to bring in their own tissue pack and hand-sanitizer. If you are really lucky you’ll even find one of these squatting-beauties.

It’s not a good time.

Lastly, I don’t really have any idea how Italian schools run. They have no concept of a full registration office. There is generally a teacher’s lounge that does have some attendance record books next to the head-master’s/mistress’s office, and sometimes a photocopy/work room, but that’s it. No councilors, janitors, VPs, conference rooms or any of that stuff that generally keeps the gears turning in the American way. Teachers in general are lean, mean, teaching machines. If school starts at 8, these teachers are generally rocking up to school at 7:55 and not a minute sooner. School is out at 2pm? These teachers are gone by 2:03. Homework? Never heard of it. 16 year olds being held back to repeat 9th grade 2 times. You bet. Kicking kids out of class? Not an option. Moving from one barren classroom to the next every hour each day, absolutely yes. Prep time? What for? Sitting at the front of the classroom with your lesson book open and listening to the students read from theirs? Best practice.

Let’s just say, it bums me out.


2. What is the most unusual flooring choice for an Italian bedroom, hotel, or other living environment?

A) Stone

B) Carpet

C) Tile

Answer: B, Carpet. How many carpeted rooms have a seen since arriving in Italy? 0. My feet are cold and tired just thinking about it. Italy has a lot of beautiful marble floors, and they are very proud of them, clearly. On the uptick, brooms are never going out of style here.

3. Which of the following are you most likely to find on the side of the highway at 2pm?

A) An open restaurant

B) A scantily clad prostitute

C) A policeman giving out speeding tickets

Answer: B, a prostitute. First things first. Little did I know when I signed up to work in Italy that it was a proud European supporter of the siesta. Italy, like many South American counties that have a legit reason for doing so (that being heat) shuts down from about 1-3pm every day. Unfortunately, we finish work right about 1 most days and have often been caught shaking our fists at the ‘hunger time’ as we call it.

Next, the prostitutes. I’m not being ridiculous when I say there are two things that Italy is hands down in more trouble with than America,

1. Chocolaty breakfast cereals

2. Prostitution. In the US, the PTA, NRA, GOP, and most other three letter organizations would have a Cosby-esq conniption (skin and hair split so there’s nothing except the skull, orange light out of the hair, fire shot from the eye sockets) about these ladies of the night walking around in the broad daylight. In Italy are just part of the scenery, especially on the truck-driver populated country roads.

A few weeks ago I personally interrupted a deal that was about to go down. A man was parked up in the middle of the road, chatting up one of these poor skanky girls. Damned if I didn’t take the wrong exit on that roundabout and honk him out of the way and off the road. I just can’t abide it. The police certainly don’t seem to mind.

I don’t know what they are doing instead; because they certainly aren’t busy giving out speeding tickets. I’m not complaining really. The speed limit here is 130K/h on the biggest highways, that’s about 81mph, plenty fast, but lots a people still go zooming passed me in the fast lane. I wouldn’t say that Italians are bad drivers, but they are definitely aggressive. Usually diving on the highways is fun. It feels a bit like a video game. In the city centers it’s a lot more hairy owing to the size of our huge, by European street standards, car.

Try getting this

Up this

Panic. Attack.

That’s enough complaining. Italy is an amazing country full of efficient indoor plumbing, comfortable shoes, and beautiful women. I am lucky enough to have the chance to work in it and drive around in a company car. I love it here.

One week till Spring Break in Florence! Got my ticket to see The David and La Pieta

(possibly my favorite piece of art ever!) today. Very excited

6 thoughts on “The Inside Track, or ‘Ugh, I got it on my shoes!’

  1. I’m so happy to read an update from you! Thats crazy about their schools. I had no idea they would be so different. Why no bathrooms? C’mon people!

    You have a great attitude of enjoying the things you like about it there while you’re there. Love you and miss you! The kids are always asking when you’re moving here.

  2. Wow! That is odd and funny. Be glad you don’t have kids in school there! Glad your enjoying like Kate said we can’t wait to have you here!!!! 🙂

  3. In a foreign country, I was once at a school where it was just commonplace to want to sit by the window so the stench from the bathroom didn’t overwhelm you. The bathroom (or I guess WC) looked very much like the one in your photo.

    Thanks for sharing. I would like to note, however, that there are certainly places in the U.S. where prostitutes walk around in the daytime, as well, as can be evidenced by the three times when I have been mistaken for a prostitute in the U.S., and the fact that I have been yelled at by a prostitute to get off her corner as I was waiting for a ride (this was one of the mistaken times). So there are places for that in the U.S.; although, you’re right, it’s not typical.

  4. So, how is education in the US so shoddy!? I guess a registration office and TP does not smart kids make.

    This all looks so fun, even the squat toilets because it’s funny and different, and you’ll never have this chance again. You actually get to SEE the Pieta, whereas I just got to write about it as a symbol in a book I read for this thing I’m writing… drab.

    Love you! I think you should spend a little time in SD before you go to AZ, btw.

  5. Wow! You are seeing a part of Italy not seen by tourists. And just so you’re not disappointed, the Pieta is in St. Peter’s. there is however another Michaelangelo Pieta (his last sculpture I believe) in the museum across from the Duomo. And David will make you weep. Also in the Academia are the unfinished slaves, which are magnificent. Enjoy!!

  6. What a wonderful time you’re having! Seeing a part of italy not seen by tourists, that’s for sure.

    Just so you’re not disappointed…the Pieta is in Rome at St. Peter’s. David and the magnificent slaves are in Florence. In a museum near the Duomo is another Pieta – I believe his last sculpture – actually finished by others. It’s quite good too.

    Have a great time!


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