10 Things I Hate About You, Italy

Two weeks ago was our fall break here in Venice, which I spent traveling throughout Spain (well, Barcelona and Ibiza) with a variety of people.  It was a great escape from the rigors of study abroad.  But truly, the cities were both unique and beautiful, and I took an insane amount of photos.  Then, this past Sunday, we went to Milan to see AC Milan take on Fiorentina in a soccer game at San Siro, which was absolutely incredible.  The trips to Milan and Spain were two of the best I’ve had, and I’m jetting off to Sicily today for another weekend outside Venice.

So, fittingly, today I’d like to talk about everything bad about Italy.  Because, despite these great experiences, living in Italy takes a toll on the tourist.  And, above all, I like to write complaints more than sing praises.  In no particular order, here are 10 of the worst things about Italy:

1. The washing machines and dryers

Well, the washing machines are great.  Maybe they flood a little bit and don’t really drain at any point, but it’s not a huge deal.  And, OK, perhaps they could be a little larger than a black box. And while we’re picking nits, it wouldn’t be awful if the doors could open when the loads are done.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but (I really hope) I’m not the only one.

The dryers are nonexistent.  At least, in the classical sense on drying anything.  Some dryers exist in a physical form, but practically, they’re only effective at transforming your wet, cold clothes into wet, warm clothes.

(Was there an Italian Transformer? There should be an Italian transformer. Someone get Michael Bay on the phone.)

2. The absence of paper towels in restrooms.  And the hand dryers.  Oh, the hand dryers

Look, Italy, I can overlook some of your bathroom faux pas.  Your absence of urinals? Impractical but forward-thinking.  Your wide, unique variety of flushers? Hilarious, if a touch unprofessional.

But one thing I expect out of bathrooms is an effective tool for removing soapy water from my hands.  And TYPICALLY, the best tool is a good, old-fashioned paper towel.  However, in a pinch, a powerful Dyson hand dryer can get the job done.  It may take a little longer, but if it’s better for the environment, I’ll hold my tongue.

What doesn’t work, though, are the hand dryers Italy provides, which appear to consist an old man, inside a wall, exhaling his last, dying breaths through a spout onto your hands.  I think I heard one of them cry for help yesterday–I would’ve helped, but my hands were too wet to be useful.

3. Paying to use public bathrooms

Even at the train station! No joke–the security to gain access to the bathroom is stricter than to get on any of the trains there.  I wish there was a sequel to The Big Lebowski where they go to Italy, just so we could see Walter Sobchak’s reactions to these injustices.

4. The restrictions on online TV

No Netflix. No Hulu. No ESPN3. If I couldn’t stay up to date on South Park through Comedy Central, I’d be on suicide watch right now. Good thing bootleg streaming sites are pretty ubiquitous (seriously, I know a guy).  I couldn’t imagine doing study abroad earlier than, like, 2 years ago.

(Normally the loss of Hulu wouldn’t be devastating, but when you’re trying to watch Louis C.K.’s “Lincoln” sketch from SNL on repeat and you keep reading that “Sorry, currently our video library can only be watched from within the United States,” well, it’s worse than getting waterboarded.)

5. Shopworkers asking for change when we clearly don’t have it, and subsequently getting mad at us

Listen, guys, we’re not paying for a cappuccino with a 20 Euro note because we want to wait three minutes as you fumble around with the cash register.  I would LOVE to pay precisely 1 Euro 40 cents, and yes, I’m aware that’s the price–you don’t have to repeat it for me like I’m some mouthbreather. “Non hai quaranta centessimi?” NO I DO NOT.  I realize that your job would be a lot easier if I had it; hell, I’d be halfway down the street by now if that were the case.  But I didn’t have it, and your job is continuing to be a pain in the ass, but I still don’t have a coffee, and so we’re in this room now.  The sooner you accept this, the sooner we can move on, and the sooner you can glare holes in the back of my head.

6. Not bagging groceries

And when this happens at the grocery–let’s be real, guys: I only use big bills. Nothing less than a 20″–and they glare at you and vengefully swipe your items across the scanner, all the while neglecting the steadily growing mountain of items they’re creating, well, I could bottle up my anger and sell it at a significant markup.  But hey, historically speaking, worker productivity isn’t something that Italy hangs its proverbial hat on.

7. Italian basketball recaps

There are other teams in the NBA besides the ones that Danilo Gallinari, Marco Bellinelli, and Andrea Bargnani play for. Actually, a lot of other teams. 27 to be exact. Just saying.  (Serious question: how is Bellinelli still in the league? For a “pure shooter,” he has the accuracy of [insert famous blind person here].)

8. L’Acqua Alta

Well, OK–this is just Venice being a poorly designed city.  But if it’s the 21st century and months of your year are still dependent on the mercy of Mother Nature, then it might be worth revisiting your game plan.

On a related note, never have I prayed harder for longer legs than when I had to wade through thigh-level water (with knee-level rainboots) to catch a train this past Sunday.  Thanks, genetics.

9. Restaurants Being Closed on Sundays and Mondays

A man’s gotta eat.  Although, if these restaurants being closed forces me to go to the Billa supermarket and just stock up on a bunker’s worth of wafers and Ringo Vaniglia cookies (think Oreos but with one chocolate and one vanilla side), it might be worth it? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

10. The Time Difference from America

I had to get up at 4:30 on Tuesday morning to see my Steelers eke out a win on MNF, and I missed the Duke win over Kentucky on Wednesday morning because my body didn’t respond to the multiple alarms (of various Dick Vitale quotes) I had set for 3:30.  Why couldn’t I just study in, like, Little Italy, or New Jersey? They have pizza and pasta there, too!

Although, to be fair, the time difference has its perks. It was something special to watch the election coverage at 4:00 AM last Wednesday morning. (Whoops, I almost forgot: I VOTED–GOOD FOR ME.) I doubt I’ll ever get to see another victory in a presidential election first called through an entirely Italian broadcast–our TV broadcast somehow just beat out the online versions of HuffPost and the NYT–and for that, and hundreds of other things, I’m glad I came to this country.

(But seriously, I can’t stream the Daily Show live on Election Night? That’s BS.)


2 thoughts on “10 Things I Hate About You, Italy”

  1. This gave me a few laughs. I just moved to Italy a year ago and know exactly what you’re talking about! I write about Italy also, but it probably wouldn’t be your cup of tea as it’s pretty girly.

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