I’ve mentioned a few times that it is customary for Italian families to stroll. “La passeggiata” is to Italians what tomato sauce is to spaghetti – a necessity! This family was out for their mid-afternoon walk at 5 pm, when the stores have reopened from the “Pausa Pranzo” – lunch break, and the whole city comes to life again.
In fact if you are ever in ANY mid-sized Italian city and you feel as though the streets are deserted I encourage you to wait until after 4 pm and then reevaluate!
Codes of Conduct
My younger sister visited me last week. It was so great to see her and her boyfriend, and it was a little weird to think that nearly TWO YEARS has gone by since the last time we were together. That’s just the way it is when you live on the other side of the ocean I guess!
One of the things I often found myself explaining were the many unwritten rules that Italians live by. Foreigners just can’t seem to get their heads around things like:
A cappuccino is for breakfast:
You rarely see an Italian having a cappuccino at 2 pm. The cappuccino, usually made with whole milk, is reserved as a breakfast drink. The idea being that it is very filling and heavy on the calories so you’ll want to have it for breakfast and not after lunch. After lunch you can have a regular espresso, or an espresso “macchiato”, one “marked” with a bit of warm milk.
You Don’t Walk While Eating …. or Even Drinking:
You will rarely see an Italian munching on a sandwich while they walk. I remember in Toronto, you would see people on the subway chowing down on their lunch, or walking with a big pita or hotdog in one hand and a coke in the other. Italians believe in stopping for their meals. Even if you are in a rush and need to grab something from a “bar” (another Italian word for a cafe/pit stop), you still stop and consume, instead of pay and eat while you go.
The only exception to this rule is if you are under 6 years old, in which case you have a constant bread stick or piece of pizza being offered to you by your parents at any given time!
Dinner is after 7:30 pm
This one was HARD for me at first, as I was usually STARVING at 6:30 pm! You will rarely find any restaurants open and serving before 7:30 pm in Italy. The best way to stave off hunger is with an aperitivo (from 5 – 7pm) (I’ve written about the aperitivo, Italian “happy hour” here) or with a tea and cookies (from 3pm – 5pm). Everything has its place in Italian culture, which brings me back to this lovely family.
What They Wore
I love how this whole family was dressed well for their mid-evening passeggiata without being over dressed. I’ve written before here about Italian “Regional Dressing” and how every area of Italy has its own style. You can practically tell who is from where just based on their clothes. I could tell from afar that this couple was from Modena! The stylish dad was wearing a type of “montgomery”, (how Italians refer to duffle coats, which I’ve written before about here), and Hogan shoes. I had never even heard of Hogan shoes before living in Modena, but in Northern Italy they are just as well known as Nike!
This pretty and stylish mom was wearing a real fur coat. Wearing real fur is absolutely normal in Modena, and for the next few weeks I’ll be sharing different looks from all walks of life in real fur. This wasn’t really planned but EVERYONE I’ve been photographing is wearing fur!
Strangely enough, it is not a very hot debate here regarding animal rights because people consume less, in general, and buy “the best”, meaning the real deal. Most women over the age of 18 have a real fur coat and they wear it YEARLY until it needs repairing not until it needs to be replaced. You’ll often see groups of “Signore”, upper middle class women, over the age of 50, all in their big fur coats and hats in a “bar” (cafe) having cappuccinos together for breakfast!
These rules of conduct amongst Italians were some of the things that bothered me 7 years ago when I first moved here. Now, they are the things that I love. These unwritten codes give me a sense of stability, culture and comfort. If only I could muster up the courage to wear my mom’s vintage fur coat from the 60s. The Canadian in me still thinks it is wrong, the Italian in me thinks it is perfect for the weather, looks incredible and is probably better to wear it than letting it sit in a closet for another 40 years!
What do you think?
Now onto YOUR style…
#REASONSTODRESS Real Mom Street Style Linkup
Thank you to everyone who linked up last week! If you would like to co-host the #reasonstodress linkup I would love to have you, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Thank you to my co-host last week Ada from the Elegance and Mommyhood!