Perhaps it's a cultural thing. At the end of long days, most Italians stroll down to the main piazzi in towns and villages to mingle with their neighbors and families in the evening ritual of passeggiata. When meeting, embraces and kisses on cheeks are exchanged. Even while ignoring stop lights and signs, somehow Italians weave their way past the crush of neighboring vehicles, obeying an unspoken rule of letting each other go ahead without touching vehicles. It's a magical dance--a balance of self-confidence, ego, trust and respect.
This is what astounds me about Italians. Their acceptance of time, love, tragedy, happiness, sadness, la famiglia and things outside their control. They will protest in hopes of change when pushed too far, but they also accept fate and try to do their best in bad situations. Floods, earthquakes, wars, financial crises, extreme heat... they make do with what they have and move on. And for now, their entire country is on lock-down. They accept having to stay at home--only heaven knows for how long.
As a show of spirit and solidarity during the novel coronavirus crisis, Italians have turned to making music and song in their neighborhoods. They are serenading each other not on the piazza, but from their balconies and windows...
Some neighborhoods sing Il Canto degli Italiani, their national anthem, while others sing Volare or Italian pop songs from the sixties. In the south, the tarantella or pizzica music is played with an accordions being played from neighboring balconies and the temp being kept by women beating the tamborello (frame drum with cymbols) or simply banging pot lids together or clapping to make some noise.
One Italian expression says,
"Fosse non possiamo avere tutto, ma noi insieme siamo tutto."
(Perhaps we cannot have everything, but together we are everything.)
I hope we Americans can take on this philosophy as we get deeper into our own cornonavirus crisis.
Here in Bucks County, we just got the word that our entire county is on lock down. For now, Lisa, Lucas and I are safe, we have a well packed pantry, a month's supply of toilet paper and lots of recipes to try and streaming films to watch. Lisa's company ordered everyone to work from home a few days ago and Lucas is home due to a state wide school closure.
When I get a chance, I'll sit on my front porch with my mandolin, Irish whistle or banjo and make some music...
Stay safe and healthy, amici miei.
When traveling through the Amalfi Coast, we can't help but wonder, "Who lives up there? How do they deal with all those steps? How do you even get up there?" You'll see houses precariously clinging to a cliff edge with no indication of how you even get to the house from the road above--or below--and how you would even get your groceries to your door. Anyone who has done even a little trekking and walking would be familiar with the old donkey paths and countless steps that link these communities, up and down the mountain and from hamlet to village. Consider what it must be like to live a workaday life in towns like Positano, Amalfi Town, or the not so famous towns of Furore, Priano, Nocelle, Montepertuso, San Lazzaro, San Michele or Scala (even its name means staircase). The YouTube videos of Nicki Positano takes a look behind the curtain of what it's like to live as an expat in Italy and on the Amalfi Coast...
Although I've experienced what it's like to be an expat living in another country (France), I've never lived in Italy and am amazed at how people need to adjust to the quirks of not only government and social customs, but also with the extreme geology of the place... hills, heat, narrow roads, tiny cars, compact living quarters and perhaps even dodging the enormous tourist throngs that "invade" during the peak season.
As GVI's mascot, La Bocca della Verita demands, we always look for truths about Italy, and we've found amazing truths in the wonderful, funny, informative and completely entertaining videos of Nicki Positano. Nicki is a British expat who has lived in Positano for nearly 20 years with her husband, Carlo and daughter Sky. Nicki speaks fluent Italian but the local dialect is still an effort for her. They live in a house that is 465 steps down from the road above. Their life is beautiful, difficult at times, but fulfilling nonetheless--like Italy itself.
Watching Nicki's videos and learning the intimate details about life on the Amalfi Coast--and in Italy--has become a family event in our home. We gather around our large screen smart TV, pop open the YouTube app and call up one of Nicki's videos. Our son loves Nicki's ever-present four-legged companion Holly, even riding on the foot board of her scooter as she does her daily errands.
It's like watching both through a window and through Nicki's eyes. She shoots many videos using a selfie-stick while walking along with her rapid-fire dialog flowing, never missing a beat to give a detailed account of the activity at hand. She's a damned good reporter, presenter and videographer.
Her videos include all sorts of activities: hikes up on the mountain, kayaking, meeting up with friends, taking out the trash, attending local festivals, or buzzing around the treacherous Amalfi roads on her two-wheeler while heading to another one of her wedding or magazine assignments (she's a make-up artist in high demand). Whether it's going to the cemetery on Halloween night (oddly beautiful), following the aftermath of a torrential flood or forest fire, going shopping with a friend, hiking the Path of the Gods, chilling at home with her teenage daughter or whipping up a simple lunch, you'll fall in love with Nicki's videos--and learn an enormous amount about living in Italy.
The high quality of her 4K videos (she uses a GoPro for kayaking and skiing, and Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II for walking) paired with a large screen, HD-TV gives us the feeling like we are walking the paths with Nicki--you can almost smell those Amalfi lemons and bougainvillea.
Thanks for sharing your lifestyle with us, Nicki...
Subscribe to Nicki Positano Videos HERE.
Our expat amico, Rafael Di Furia--better known as Rafi Di--explains how the Italian Healthcare System works for expats and Voyagers alike. It's good to know what to expect when you really need medical care...
Back in 1983, Toto Cutugno recorded what was to become an incredibly popular, realistic view of L'Italiano. This is a somber, raw pronouncement of what a "real" Italian is.
The song speaks of the vices, virtues and stereotypes of la Bel Paese, which, for example, is accused of excessive Americanism, a crisis of religion, a sexual casualness ( i.e., the line, "more and more women who are less nuns"), but still a country worthy of being proud of. The lyrics lace together religion, football, al dente pasta, espresso, socks, Italian artists, partisans as presidents and God.
It's worthy to be thought of as a National Anthem for modern Italians.
Click the video above to see an inspiring visual tour of what the Italian spirit is made of, or the Gypsy Queens video below for a very sexy rendition...
The Gypsy Queens version of L'Italiano by Toto Cutugno
Click the photo above to watch the video
I you want to learn about Italy, food, life and humor, then Two Greedy Italians is for you. It is a BBC television series that was broadcast on BBC Two in the UK. The series follows charming chefs Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio as they travel back to their homeland for the first time in 15 years... to see how their Italian society and food has evolved over the years. There is also an accompanying cook book called Two Greedy Italians: Carluccio and Contaldo's Return to Italy that you can find on Amazon. A second series entitled Two Greedy Italians: Still Hungry was also produced. These two old chefs have it all.... experience with food, life and great charisma. Lovable, passionate and damned funny together!
(Click the photo at left to see the DVD set on Amazon)
Click the photo below to watch a sample video of Two Greedy Italians