Nine abilities we Italians have over everyone

Nine abilities we Italians have over everyone

We Italians get easily recognized wherever they travel. Whether we visit the United States, go on vacation in Cuba, venture the culturally more similar Argentina and Uruguay, people can easily spot us as Italian. Conversations soon start, appreciation shown for our beautiful country. Then, the old stereotypes kick in. However, although most of the world defines Italian by the pizza, pasta and mafia stereotype, an old national saying states “Italiani brava gente” (good people) and we’d rather think of ourselves as a country of poets, artists and sailors. Yes, there are a number of abilities Italians have over everyone.

So, here’s my list of nine abilities that Italians have over everyone:

1. We have turned a stereotype into a virtue

Since we are known for the pizza and pasta country, we have gone above and beyond our limits to create the most amazing pizza and pasta dishes. Italy is the only country where pizza is a gourmet dish and where just 3 ingredients are necessary to prepare a sophisticated pasta course. Not bad for a stereotype.

Pizza à Sorrento

In case you wonder, this is how a GOOD pizza should look like!

2. There’s nothing that a good meal can’t fix.

Whether we celebrate Christmas, a wedding or a promotion at work, we are bound to have a meal. But it won’t just be a simple lunch. It will be a 15 courses meal that will last anything between 2 to 5 hours, during each we stuff ourselves as if we are camels drinking before the longest ride through the desert. And when we feel a bit down, we indulge in some treats – a mouthwatering gelato, a delicious torrone snack, or a good spoonful of nutella. Eating is a huge part of our culture. We spend endless amount of hours shopping for the best ingredients, preparing our meals and even just talking about what we ate or what we plan to eat next.

Feeling low? EAT! Celebrating? EAT EAT!

Feeling low? EAT! Celebrating? EAT EAT!

 

3. We appreciate beauty.

Our love for beautiful things has brought us to express ourselves with some of the most incredible art, music and culture. Italian design, fashion and luxury goods are only some of the modern ways to express the artistic genius of which Leonardo, Machiavelli, Caravaggio and many others were our world ambassadors. The same goes with Pavarotti, who sang Italian opera in the world’s best opera houses.

No doubt the most beautiful city in the world to me

No doubt the most beautiful city in the world to me

 

4. We always manage to communicate.

We are not exactly masters at foreign languages. We get by with Spanish and we may know a little English, but we are so expressive and communicative that we always manage to make ourselves understood. An Italian will never get stuck for being unable to speak the local language! On the other hand, if you don’t speak Italian, you may confuse a plain and friendly conversation for a heated argument, just because of our hand gestures and our facial expressions. Nothing to worry about!

communication age

Yes, yes, I got it!

5. We are one yet many.

We manage to overcome all our differences, forget our regional rivalries and become one big family as soon as we step outside the country. But the minute we step back in, it all goes back to being very local and there is no way a Sardinian would want to be mixed up with someone from Naples or Venice.

I love travelling alone

I had to show my Sardinian pride even when I was in Chile!

6. We forget all our problems if our national football team is playing.

The financial crisis won’t get any worst just because we stop worrying about it for 90 minutes to watch a football match. And if our national team wins, we don’t mind so much that the country may be going bankrupt; there may have been a recent natural disaster for whose reconstruction the government plans yet another raise in the taxes and unemployment rates may be skyrocketing. It’s time to celebrate!

Worry later, celebrate now!

Worry later, celebrate now!

7. We always help others.

We may complain about it, we may feel we don’t have the resources for that, but we are never going to push away and turn our backs the thousands of desperate people who flee war and poverty and cross the Mediterranean in search for a better life. We are the geographic centre of the Mediterranean, but we like to think of it more as its beating heart.

8. We have a good sense of humour.

Isis threatens to attack Rome and the Vatican? We don’t really worry so much. They will never find their way through the congested traffic of the capital. And if they do, we may as well make sure that they make the most of their experience in the country and give them the best recommendations for restaurants and places to stay.

Welcome, Isis! - photo courtesy of Legal Insurrection

Welcome, Isis! – photo courtesy of Legal Insurrection

9. We take summer flings to a higher level.

We may know that it is not meant to be, we may know that there are no chances it will work, but we give each relationship our best. We don’t just pretend to be be in love. We really are.

Do you have any Italian friend? What are their funniest abilities?

Sardinia dos and donts: what to do in Sardinia

Sardinia dos and donts: what to do in Sardinia

Best beaches in Sardinia: Crazy gorgeous fjords of Cala Domestica

Best beaches in Sardinia: Crazy gorgeous fjords of Cala Domestica

Things to do in Sardinia: watch the Sartiglia

Things to do in Sardinia: watch the Sartiglia in Oristano – photo courtesy of Marcello Treglia

Things to do in Sardinia

Things to do in Sardinia: watch the Sant’Efisio parade of traditional Sardinia costumes – photo courtesy of Marcello Treglia

Where to go in Sardinia: Roman ruins and lighthouse in Nora

Where to go in Sardinia: Roman ruins and lighthouse in Nora

Visit Sardinia: Barumini

Visit Sardinia: Su Nuraxi – Barumini

At the heart of the Mediterranean, Sardinia will make you feel like you are a world apart from the rest of the world. Here you can switch off from your daily routine, without having to cross an ocean; you can enjoy lush nature, incredible beaches, wild mountains, tasty food and a secular cultural traditions. The good news is that although it is almost mythologically described as a place for a few rich people, it can actually be visited on a budget and there are so many things to do in Sardinia that you could spend a year without ever getting bored.

Here are a few simple rules for your low budget holidays. For more ideas on things to do in Sardinia, check my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia”.

Dos

Do book your flight in advance, making sure you catch one during the week (avoid weekends) and playing around with the dates (be flexible). This way you can even catch a round trip ticket for less than €50. There are three airports: Alghero, Cagliari and Olbia, all a great starting point for a tour of the island. Most budget airlines have fights to Sardinia from a number of cities in Italy and Europe.

Do use public transport: it links the main cities, villages and tourist destinations. While a bit slow, it is cheap enough, and once you get to your destination you can walk, rent a bike, or participate in organised tours that offer pick up services. For information on bus and train schedules visit the pages of ARST and Trenitalia.

Do consider a car rental. A splurge if travelling alone or as a couple, but if there is a few of you it may actually turn out cheap and you will have the opportunity to roam around independently. Most well known agencies have stands at the airport and are quite convenient. But book in advance to catch special deals.

Do book your accommodation early. Most cities have budget places and all tourist destinations provide camping sites. Rooms are easy to find in the low season, but during the summer, when Sardinia is at its peak season, it may be harder to get cheap accommodation. Camping sites are good options if you can carry your tent, and they often have bungalows for rent.

If travelling in a group, do consider holiday home rentals: prices are surprisingly cheap and estate agencies and apartments can be easily found online. Considering you will have your own kitchen, your budget will benefit in the end.

Do enjoy your days at some of the best beaches in Sardinia, which all have free access: carry your umbrella, towel and plenty of sunblock and relax for free.

Do go on a boat tour: some of Sardinia best beaches, especially in the Golfo di Orosei or La Maddalena, can only reached this way. Although not too cheap it is completely worth it. Do book a day or two in advance!

Best beaches in Sardinia: Cala Luna

Best beaches in Sardinia: Cala Luna

Do go on a free trekking: hiking is one of the best ways to visit Sardinia. There is a gorgeous path to Cala Goloritzé leaving from the Altipiano del Golgo; a well signaled hike to Cala Domestica; a roughly 2 hours walk from Cala Fuili to Cala Luna; or try any of the trails in Isola dell’Asinara.

Do enjoy free festivals and cultural events. If you are searching for what to do in Sardinia and feeling in the mood for some cultural activity, you will be glad to know that on first of May Cagliari hosts the spectacular “parata di Sant’Efisio”: people from villages all over Sardinia, wearing their traditional dresses, go on a march in honour of the Saint patron of the island (Sant’Efisio). In February, the beautiful Sartiglia takes place in Oristano: men (and women) wearing traditional carnival costumes gallop down a street mounded with sand as fast as they can and attempt skewering a hanging star using their foil – pure adrenaline.

If you are a jazz and nature lover, don’t miss Time in Jazz in Berchidda, patroned by trumpet player and native Paolo Fresu. Picture a whole week of jazz, across a number of villages in the area, with open air concerts (free to attend) and the possibility to stay in camping sites. This is only one of the many jazz festivals here: listening to live quality music is one of the things to do in Sardinia.

Do enjoy nightlife in Cagliari: locals go out no earlier than 10 pm. You can either walk around Largo Carlo Felice, or, for some fresh air, Libarium, in Castello, which has a great terrace and view of the city; or Caffè degli Spiriti or De Candia in the Bastione – the lattest occasionally have some live concerts: look for local bands such as Sikitikis for real fun. Cocktails cost between € 7 and 9, wine and beer are cheaper (around 3 or 4 euros).

Do enjoy a romantic dinner at Quintilio, right outside Alghero, and admire the great view of the city, the bay and Capo Caccia. Sunset is the best time to go. Do book in advance to seat outside.

Do try traditional Sardinian food: piglet on the spit, malloreddus (small gnocchi), mussles soup, fregola (a sort of cous cous made with seafood), pecorino cheese, seadas (sweet fried pastries filled with cheese and topped with honey)… There is a lot of variety.

Donts

Don’t miss Isola dell’Asinara, originally a fishing community, later on a criminal colony, a peasant colony and leprosy centre, and a maximum security jail; it was finally turned into a National Park in 1997. Should you not have much time to sleep on the only hostel in the island (highly recommended!), book a guided tour on a jeep. This will allow you to visit the sites of historical and natural importance, such as the historic jail of Cala d’Oliva and of Fornelli, and some of the best beaches in Sardinia, such as Cala Sabina, Cala Trabuccato and Cala d’Arena. You can also go on one of the many hikes (free and well signaled) or opt for a bike tour.

Where to go in Sardinia? Asinara, for sure!

Where to go in Sardinia? Asinara, for sure!

Asinara - Sardinia

Donkeys are the only inhabitants of Asinara, together with boars, cats, goats…

Don’t miss a sunset walk on the beautiful bastion overlooking the sea in Alghero. The same goes for Cagliari and its lovely bastion or the Poetto beach: they are gorgeous at sunset. You can’t visit Sardinia and miss a sunset here!

Don’t think Sardinia is only beautiful in the summer. It is just as nice in the winter, although weather in Sardinia can be brutal in the winter months. But of course summer is the best season to enjoy the beaches.

Don’t litter: all beaches have bins for garbage and if they don’t, carry your garbage back with your and throw where appropriate.

Don’t forget to try “gelato artigianale”: ice-cream made from scratch. Tip to know it is the real thing: it melts really fast!

Don’t miss a sip of mirto or fil’e ferru: the first one is a strong liquor made of myrtle berries. The second is more like a grappa. They are very much Sardinian!

Don’t miss the archeological sites such as the beautiful roman ruins of Nora, are easy to access from Cagliari, or the many “nuraghe” which are unique to Sardinia such as that of Barumini. Take lots of pictures!

Don’t miss some off the beaten path places, such as Is Aruttas beach, with its incredible white tiny pebbles; S’Archittu, with a rock formation in the shape of an arch, Masua Pan di Zucchero, Buggerru and Cala Domestica, and Porto Pino, famous for its sand dunes.

Sardinia best beaches: Masua Pan di Zucchero

Sardinia best beaches: Masua Pan di Zucchero

Don’t be afraid to communicate with Sardinians, as they are very friendly. They may not all speak English, but they will always help out.

Don’t forget to read my other posts on Sardinia for more information and to ask me if you have any more questions!