Today, I want to talk about differences.
I’m becoming more and more aware of them. What is normal in North American culture is totally strange in Italy and would never work here and vice versa. In Toronto we have a “White Night” called Nuit Blanche, have you heard of this? I think there is a White Night in pretty much every city and town in the world, but incase this phenomena hasn’t arrived in your area yet, it is basically an evening dedicated to culture, and usually museums are free and open until late.
In Toronto the event is a cultural extravaganza with programing, performances, street installations and site specific work done in every corner of the downtown core and it runs literally ALL NIGHT. I remember one year walking through the streets at 4 am, hungry, tired, lost and exhausted, but generally having a great time.
In Modena things are a little more toned down, and are definitely not on the edge of the avant-guardia (like they are in Toronto), but things are ENJOYABLE, SENSIBLE and END AT MIDNIGHT! Italians have this fear of exaggerating, things must be taken to the limit but not exceed it. Midnight seems like a reasonable hour for families to be out and about, so free music events throughout the city, museum hours, performances etc. all pretty much end at midnight. The exception are nightclubs and music venue for people who obviously have no kids that run all for the whole night.
Nessun Dorma “No One Sleeps” – Modena’s White Night!
Last week on Saturday there was the event Nessun Dorma in Modena, which means “No One Sleeps”, this is what I wore!!! The name comes from Puccini’s Opera Turandot, and it is a subtle homage to Pavarotti (Modena was his home town!!!!) whose version of the Aria “Nessun Dorma” remains on of the most powerful and emotional versions ever heard and recorded. Have you heard it? IT IS A MUST, here’s the youtube video!
I’ve written before about balling my eyes out in the Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, dedicated to the Ferrari founder, that played this Aria every 20 minutes. Every single time Pavarottis voice came on the loudspeaker I began to ball!!!!
Even though Modena’s White night is called “Nessun Dorma”, I can assure you that everyone slept at some point! Maybe just a few hours later than normal. I never really realized how much different our lives as parents are in Italy compared to North American or British parents. I read a lot of UK based blogs (check out the #AllAboutYou linkup by London bloggers Mama and More and Mother Wife Me, it is FILLED with amazing mommy blogs from the UK) and in reading their stories I became aware that most families stay in after bed time! And bed time is EARLY.
Like REALLY EARLY!
Like….. we haven’t even eaten dinner yet at that time! No wait, we are most likely still at the park when kids in the U.S., Canada and the UK are getting ready for bed!!!
A Few Thoughts on Differences
1 – Street Food
Before I move on I just want to say that Italian street food during these events is absolutely nothing like North American street food. The temporary vendors were selling things like (and I’m not kidding), pasta with a duck tomato or wild boar sauce, tortelloni filled with ricotta and spinach, tortelloni filled with pumpkin and served with butter and sage, Borlenghi (an Italian “crepe” that is filled with parmigiano and pesto)….and so on and so forth. Not a single hot dog in sight the entire night!
2 – Street Drinking and Drunks
As I mentioned before Italians aren’t really fans of exaggerating. Sure every town has their own “token drunks”, but in general to much debachery…and generally loosing your cool, is looked down upon. You’re not the fun guy if you have too many drinks, you’re just the guy who “exaggerates” ……l’essaggerato. In saying that, although Modena was filled with outdoor vendors from local bars selling every kind of mixed drink possible, AND people could consume these in glass cups (not plastic) that you can even take away from the bar (and later return at your own convenience) there were no drunk people.
At least none that I saw, of the thousands of people out that evening.
In fact, 90% of the time if you see people that are completely drunk and acting ridiculous they are not Italians!! In other words, when I first arrived in Italy (note: without kids, technically single and CANADIAN) I was most likely that drunk in any given social situation!
That being said, there are situations were people get completely wasted, but they are usually tasteful about it, in nightclubs, in groups and away from families with children. So it is pretty safe to walk around the streets even when literally THOUSANDS of people all around are drinking cocktails out of breakable glasses.
3 – Italian Kids Stay Up Late!!
The biggest difference I really want to talk about is baby/toddler/kids hours. I really enjoyed reading a Mums Day’s account of taking her son out in the evening and forgoing their bedtime routine. He goes to be at 7 pm, which I think most UK parents would agree is a reasonable bed time. In Italy if you tell someone that your kid goes to bed at 7, they look at you as though you just said that your kid eats at McDonalds….with complete disbelief and slight disgust!
No one’s kid goes to bed at 7. Or 8 or even 9 for that matter! Ok wait, I do know ONE PERSON whose kid goes to bed early but she isn’t Italian, she’s from the UK and so is her husband and she also never goes out at night!!!
Here is a typical schedule for a child, anywhere from 9 months to 3 years old…ready?
You may be shocked….
8 or 8:30 or 9 am – Wake up! Daycare kids get up earlier but generally parents WAKE their children and NOT vice versa!!
10 or 10:30 or 11 – Morning nap. Not all kids have a morning nap, mine for example does not!
12:00 or 12:30 or 1pm – LUNCHTIME! Lunch usually consists of something ridiculously delicious and never involves anything like cut up carrots!
Anywhere from 2pm to 5pm – Nap. Some kids nap earlier, some later, but usually a good 2 hours of the afternoon is spent sleeping. My son sleeps from around 3:30/4pm – 6/6:30!!!
7:30 or 8:00 or even 8:30 – Dinner. Dinner is eaten as a family with all members present. Kids eat what their parents are eating whether that be cotolette, spaghetti with clams, octapus and potatoes, lasagna, pesto….you name it, it’s served to kids. Again, there are no separate “kid appropriate” foods prepared and everyone eats together!
Anytime between 9:30 and 11pm – Bedtime! Totally not kidding!!!! The bedtime routine isn’t that big a deal, Italians follow a loose cycle of cues but nothing that is an intense regime. My husband and I usually drink wine together after dinner, hang out with our son, chat, play, give him a bath and get lost in our discussions. My son usually has to TELL US to start putting him to bed.
All of my friends put their kids down to sleep between 9:30 and 11, but let’s say that 10 is usually the expected bed time. Don’t believe me? There is a really popular site called “Forum al Femminile” which is like the Italian “Baby Centre” where moms talk about mom things. This discussion is all about standard kid schedules and pretty much every mom follows the above mentioned hours.
So what does this mean in terms of quality of life…..
In my opinion a few things are really positive about how Italian kids live.
1 – They have social lives! After dinner you can easily bring them out for an ice cream or walk before their 10 pm bedtime!
2 – Parents have social lives! If your kid is waking up at 8 and not at 5:30 am or 6 you have the morning to get ready for work calmly, read the paper, workout or god forbid have sex! Not only that, but if they are going to bed at 10 and the parents go to bed at midnight (a pretty normal time) then you also have a few hours together in the evening.
****And if you go to bed at 2:30 am as we often do, then you have a full 4.5 hours alone and still get in 6 hours of sleep before the kids are awake! During the week this isn’t very practical, but it can make for a very fun and social weekend!
3 – Dinners are yummier!!! Since the family eats together and eats the SAME FOOD, dinner is usually yummy and not processed.
4 – Events . Events like Nessun Dorma don’t completely throw your kids schedule off and are easily do-able.
Back to Nessun Dorma…..
Nessun Dorma is a special occasion so people come from all the small towns around Modena to participate, the streets are filled with groups of friends, parents, families, kids, old people, young people, hip people, not so hip people ….you name it they are out!
I really don’t have much to say about the cool events we saw, since the streets were too packed for us to move. Considering that we had a stroller and so did our friends it became impossible to navigate through the crowds. We mostly enjoyed the outdoor temporary street vendors, street acts, puppet shows and live music. We did our normal Modena things like met up with our different groups of parent friends, had an ice cream, hung out …. etc.
A few years ago (sans bebè) we were much more mobile and got to a few different events, but this year we took it easy and did what we could, considering the crowds and pushing a stroller.
Here are some photos documenting how the night went, to see what I wore in greater detail I’ve done a post about it here!
So there you have it, we didn’t really see much, but hey at least we were out of the house and with friends. Plus I didn’t have to cook dinner AND I enjoyed a yummy “Melonito”!!
Thank YOU for your Support
Thank you to everyone who has become a fan of Reasons to Dress on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Bloglovin’!! I love hearing your comments and suggestions and the relationships I’ve made because of this blog have been incredible. Please feel free to share any of my posts with your friends and don’t be a stranger!!
I’m a Top Mommy Blogger! Reasons to Dress is ranked as a top Fashion and Style Blog for moms, if you’d like to leave a comment about this blog or vote please visit TopMommyBlogs.com …THANK YOU!