I think a lot of people go on vacation and behave in ways they may not otherwise when they are home. I mean, you’re far away from home and “god can’t see you”. And this is true for me when I’m in Italy….to a degree. I don’t go visit and lose my shit and become insane, but I do venture outside my comfort zone and do more “personally risky” things I am likely never to consider doing when I am stateside. Why? Well, you haven’t been reading the blog if you’re asking this question. So, I compiled a list of things I have done on my visits that you won’t see American Carrie doing in her home country. These are a few things outaide our cultural norm. And because I like lists, I’ve made one here.
- Eat and Entire Pizza in PUBLIC
“Ya right. You’ve never eaten and entire pizza, Carrie”, you may be thinking. I didn’t say I’ve never done it, but I certainly have never done it in public. Not until I was sitting in a pizzeria in Napoli around 11:00pm one night after a life threatening climb up 500 stairs in Positano. Claudio took Julie and I to this place which was supposed to be the best ever. Still recovering from that awful climb and looking crazy and exhausted, we were relieved that the wait was about about two hours. Once we got to the table, I asked, “what kind of pizza should we get..?” and was answered, “get whatever you want”. We all ordered our own pizza and by the time it came out, the hunger had hit me and I became a fire-eyed beast. “Ya. Ima eat. dis. pizza.” I thought to myself. And I did it. I ate the entire thing and didn’t stop to reconsider my choice around half-pie in. After all, this is how pizza is meant to be eaten…in Italy. And truthfully, this whole pizza eating acceptance was a moment I had waited for my entire life. What? I get the whole thing all to myself?? Damn, that’s sexy!
2. Tour an Exorcism Cathedral
I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. An exorcism cathedral. Yes, a place solely used to conduct exorcisms. Now, I did’t get to the place on my own because I’m not sure I would have gone inside. Claudio and I were on a walk around Rome and decided to pop in and see this beautiful cathedral. Once inside he whispers into my ear “this is where they do the exorcisms”. What?! Why are were here. What’s that man up there doing? What’s about to happen? Why…are…we…here?! It was quiet and dark inside with only a few candles lit. Nothing major was happening, but I certainly didn’t want to see anything happen either. We just stood there for a few minutes and I decided to be a bit braver and look around. When I finally decided to be an adult, I became interested in how one requests an exorcism and can one request this for another person..? Again, nothing major happened and it was all very still, but I did think to myself, “where’s my local exorcism depot in the states? I mean, I know some people….”. I’ve never found it though.
3. Go Topless
Oh. My. God….I’m in trouble. I know my Mamala is going to read this and at 38….actually come to think of it, Mamala is the one always telling me and let my freak flag fly. Nevertheless, I should explain myself. See, in Italy and many European countries the idea of female topless swimming isn’t this shameful thing. In fact nudity in general isn’t a huge sin which can land you straight in the mouth of hell. Also, the act of public breastfeeding is commonplace and women aren’t meant to feel like they are breaking the law for feeding their children. In fact, if a woman publicly breastfeeds in Italy she is likely to receive a round of applause. “Look at Mom momming” they’d say. But here in the good ol’ U.S. of Shame, women’s bodies are so overly sexualized that this act, one of the most natural things a mother can do for her child, is seen as something sinful or shameful. Tisk, tisk. I kinda of went of topic there, but I say all of this to set the mood here, to shed light on something I have learned. Breasts are not a sin and having them is not a crime or meant to be totally covered as to not distract someone from living a normal, crime free adult life. Breasts aren’t tools of the devil attached to wicked witches. They are our, my anatomy. Women on the beaches of Italy are free to unstrap and just let it go without it being an act of sex or public indecency. What an outstanding idea! I don’t have to be ashamed of my anatomy here?!?! This took me a good four trips to get to the point where I wanted to really…expose (wink) my American shame. It happened on a day we rented a boat and cruised the Amalfi Coast. At a stop on a rocky beach somewhere, I saw Italians of all ages and sizes freely and without shame, taking a topless sun bath. As I watched them being very natural I thought “why not, Carrie”. And after a few moments I just did it. I dropped the top and let it go. I wasn’t even noticed for a few minutes; freely swimming and enjoying the water on my skin. And then, from a rock overlooking the water I was bathing in, I heard “Brava, Carrie. BRAVA” and vigorous clapping from my three darlings. Claudio, Ferdinando, and Davide cheered me out of my shell that day as I swam proud and bare. When I got home and told my friends, they were proud of me (I think), but I could tell they were a little shocked. Especially since I have spent a great deal of my adult life feeling shameful of my boobs. But, I was in Italy and perche no vacanza, right?
4. Ride a Motorcycle on an American Highway
If you’re keeping up then you you’re already familiar with my great motorcycle journey from this summer. If not, well, for shame. You can catch up Here. Clearly I will engage in many things out of my comfort zone when I vacation abroad. And some of things I’ve tried brought back to my daily life, to my people. However, I will never, ever ride a motorcycle on an American highway. Well, probably not anyway. See, motorist here in the states aren’t as accustomed to motorcycles and frankly, they don’t pay them much attention or respect. So, hopping on the back of a bike and motoring on down there road in the Red, White, and Blue? Not for this mama. Nope.
Okay, one exception, perhaps. Possibly in a smaller town with a smaller population, riding exposed and helmeted may be safer. But can you imagine doing that on a highway in Houston, TX? Ab-so-freakin-loutely NOT. Beside the infrequency of motorcyclists, American cars are huge and the bigger your rig, the more you own the road. I’m terrified while driving my average sized four door Kia! So, I will leave the wind-on-my-face-live-free-die-hard-motorcycle-mama life in Italy where it belongs and waits for me to return, and where they know what the hell they’re doing.
I’m sure that on my next trip I will happily and proudly add a few items to my list. In fact I anticipate doing something wild and free. I love the way it makes me feel to just throw myself into the culture; living it and breathing it for every precious second.
Finally, while this point may not be relevant to this list and doesn’t have a number, it certainly deserves a moment in the spotlight. On a cold rainy night five adults piled into a tiny Fiat with two big pieces of luggage and, from my perspective, sped down a highway in Rome through a storm with this girl’s head hanging out of the window. Filippo’s flight had been canceled and he was stranded at the airport. Claudio took me and his friend Laura to retrieve our grounded puppy. When we arrived he was accompanied by another victim of the storm; his friend also needed a ride home. As the guys were shoving the luggage into this seeming shrinking car, I began to wonder how this was going to work. I attempted to do algebra, geometry, hell I even tried astrology in my head so that I may possibly have a suggestion on how we could fit these people, those bags, and my claustrophobia into that car. Well, it didn’t work. First Carrie got in, then Laura, and the first suitcase was placed in our laps. Fili then shoved in with us and suddenly I could feel my lungs begin to collapse. “Oh my god, I am going to suffocate” I thought. Claudio, having the best advantage as the driver, took his post and Fili’s friend took the co-pilot seat with his giant suitcase in his lap. “Are we ready?” asked Claudio. “Ready? To die??” I thought. We headed out toward the highway and I made it five, maybe ten minutes before I was rolling down the window, desperately trying to breathe. “I’m an American!! I need some air” I shouted with my face hanging out and the raining falling on my face. And this was only my second night on this particular holiday.
See, in the U.S. we wouldn’t have done it like that. Car’s to small? Get the big one or hell, just take both!