19 Jul 2012


Jenny Matlock
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday

When I met Mr. G. my personal Italian, I had no idea about their way of life. The only thing I knew was that if you put one Italian in a street (outside his country of course) he is suddenly surrounded by another 100 (maybe that's a little exaggerated, but still) talking all together at the same time. While other nationalities avoid each other during holidays, Italians keep a watchful eye and ear on the whole beach or in the hotel to find at least one compatriot. Mostly there are a lot more and of course the next day we will sit all together on the beach in ONE group. This had always been like that since we married 43 years ago. From the States to Egypt, we always found Italians.

We need an Electrician ? no problem one Italian always knows another one who has a cousin or an uncle who is electrician. I needed a window cleaner, and got one through an Italian friend who knew a friend whose cousin owned a window cleaner company so I immediately had my window cleaner.

There is a very big Italian community in Belgium, because 3 generations ago, they were "imported" from Italy to work in the Belgian coal mines. Most of them stayed until their pension and then only went back to Italy. The children and grandchildren often don't speak Italian anymore or only a little they stayed here and became Belgians, but in their hearts they all remain Italians.

Even our prime Minister Elio di Rupo, is of Italian origin his father arrived in Belgium in 1947 to work in the coal mines. Elio was born in Belgium, and his mother was illiterated and had to raise 7 children, he only spoke Italian until he went to school. What an amazing carreer he has made !

                          Elio di Rupo

When Mr. G. took me to Italy for the very first time to meet his family, I was sick when we came back. I wasn't used to such a great hospitality. I had to eat all the specialities of all female relatives, drink the wine of all male relatives and if I said I have enough, they filled my plate and glass again ! Wherever we went and whatever was the time, in a second the table was full of delicious food and it would have been unpolite not to eat ! I also wasn't used to the noise ! Sitting all together at a big table everybody talked and talked, nobody listened and I was sitting in the middle to try to understand what they all said. I also learned that Italians never learn to whisper, which apparently doesn't disturb the babies, they are used to, since sitting in Mamma's womb.

In a Hospital everybody shouts his miseries to everybody, there are no whispers to not disturb the patients. The same happened to me while I was in a waiting room, where at home everybody whispers or doesn't talk at all, there I learned the family histories and diseases from all present persons, shouting at each other, also mostly at the same time.

Now that I am used to this and it doesn't bother me anymore, Mr. G. gets crazy when they all shout together ! That's probably why he didn't want to return to Italy when he retired, he finds it too noisy. And then he has all his Italian friends here. When he goes shopping on the market each Sunday morning, he has his meeting point at the stall of Carmelo ! Carmelo sells all Italian specialities and all Italians are gathered around his stall and discuss. That's there where Mr. G. gets all the useful adresses I mentioned above. Even, our banker turned out to be of Italian origin and was so happy to meet us, and my hairdresser too is the grand daughter of an Italian imigrant !

So he has his little Italy just in Waterloo, the only thing he never learned is to whisper ! Everybody in the street knows our first names thanks to his opera voice when he calls us from the street !

the way I eat spaghettis !


Mara said...

I remember visiting a friend of mine in Italy and they fed me on everything special they could think of. There was one thing I drew the line at though: cooked cold cauliflower in vinegar. I nearly threw up there and then. It still gives me shivers thinking about it!

Jo said...

Oh I just KNEW your post would cheer me up! Thanks I had a lovely read and CHUCKLE (no, LAUGH) at your descriptions of the Italian culture. I just LOVED your post, and thank you for making my day so much better after the worries I have about our problems back home in South Africa. You are a STAR - (here I am using my MR G opera voice!!!) BTW did you meet any Italians in London? Big hugs to you:) Jo

Cezar and Léia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cezar and Léia said...

Dear Gattina, what a brilliant post!
I'm always enchanted here reading your stories and memories, thanks a lot for sharing.
I'm also Italian descendant ( from my father family ).I can understand but unfortunately I cannot speak.
It's a shame because today here in Europe it would be very interesting.
In that time I was so young and I didn't give the importance that I should give to learn languages.
From the family of my mammy side, it's a real mix,the majority part was from Austria, but mammy said her grand father spoke a lot about a beautiful land called Luxembourg! Imagine that! :)

But something I kept from my Italian ancestral because I cannot speak without use my hands! LOL

Don't worry I don't use my "opera voice"! :)

big hugs

diane b said...

A great and funny post.

Friko said...

In all your married years you wil have become accustomed to the noise and the family ties. Surely the food can't have been such a big problem? I remember that all my relatives in Germany always piled food on the table when we visited. Perhaps they are not quite as generous as Italian ladies but "Iss was," oder "das Kind muss essen", oder "nun nimm schon", usw. were a constant refrain.

debra said...

I love your wonderful sense of humor! :)

Anonymous said...

I love visiting here and discovering so many interesting cultural habits. It would be wonderful to have such an extended family.

Zia Blue said...

how very interesting! i'll be prepared for when i visit italy some day :)

Judie said...

I love that sense of "family" in the Italian culture. Another fun and informative post from you, Gattina!!

A Lady's Life said...

Italians are great people I love them.
My sisterinlaw is Italian and she is a riot.
It's all about familia and thats wonderful.

Loree said...

How fascinating. Italians are like the Maltese - or we are like them - we all talk too loudly and have never learnt to whisper.

anitamombanita said...

hilarious...my Italian friends all have "big personalities".

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What a fun and funny post. I didn't know Mr G was your 'personal Italian'...sounds like a match made in heaven ;>)

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

This is a lovely post it was fascinating to learn about the Italian/Belgian connections. Of course I knew your husband was Italian but not the full story, you made me laugh as it is all so true.

Jenny said...

Lucky you! Getting to hang out with the Italians! Nice to have a big 'family' wherever and whenever you go!

Thanks for this interesting and adorable link to the letter "I".