Over my two-week honeymoon to Italy, which included stops in Rome, Venice, Florence, Pompeii, Sorrento and Positano, I gathered a series of conversations I had with the locals about their perception on American life, family, shamanism, healthcare, and more.
With no bias of my own I present to you these conversions for your own interest and research.
(Georgino, Male, About mid-40s, Occupation: Taxi Driver)
Me: Is it true Italy has free healthcare?
Me: But you pay higher taxes?
Me: What is your minimum wage?
Georgino: About one-thousand euro a month. It’s sad. Germany is about two-thousand a month. Germany is the strongest European country.
Me: I didn’t know that.
Georgino: And Sorrento is expensive. I pay $2,500 a month and that is without things like water and electricity.
Me: Why not move somewhere else more affordable?
Georgino: I can’t. My wife doesn’t want to.
Me: There you go. What does she do?
Georgino: My wife used to work as an accountant but the bank closed three years ago. I work twenty hours a day now.
Me: How do you sleep?
Georgino: I don’t. Italy is very hard to live in. Very corrupt. We have an African immigration issue, too.
Me: Interesting. We’re dealing with a similar issue in American with the Mexican population.
Georgino: Yes, but the Mexicans are hard workers. The Africans, they don’t work. They come for crime and corruption. (Pauses) In America, if you are smart you get good job, lots of money. In Italy, to get a good job you must know somebody.
Me: How do the Italians view Trump?
Georgino: Trump is showman. He’s a businessman. I don’t know if he’s good or not. He just doesn’t say civil things and he’s too extreme.
(Male taxi driver, About mid-40s, Occupation: Private Taxi Service)
Me: I’ve got to ask ... I’ve been asking questions to Italians to better understand how they view Americans. Please understand I mean the stereotype, not necessarily you personally. How are Americans viewed by Italian at large?
Taxi: The stereotype, the-
Me: Yes. The basic idea.
Taxi: The stereotype is that Americans are exaggerated, dramatic, that everything for them must be big, big, big.
Me: Makes sense.
Taxi: Americans need it now, now, now. But you love to joke around with each other A LOT, which is good because Italians do, too. Oh, and you are all VERY loud. Us, too. We have lots of similarities there.
Me: I have noticed Italians are very relaxed. They move at a slower pace than most. Why is that?
Taxi: Because you must enjoy life.
Me: What about the way Italians view American fashion? Italians are very well dressed from my view.
Taxi: I don’t pay much attention to that stuff.
Me: Most of you wear fitted pants, suit jackets and scarfs. We wear jogging pants. You know, pajama pants.
Taxi: (Laughs) Pajama pants are for grandmas and grandpas.
Me: Exactly. It’s embarrassing.
Me: Do most Italians listen to American music? I noticed it’s playing a lot. Is that just for the tourists?
Taxi: Music now is all... we can listen to anything from all over the world ... so it’s hard to tell what music is from America and what music is from ... it’s all done online. Everybody listens to everything.
Me: You’re right. (Pause) Do you have a wife? Kids?
Taxi: Yes, a wife, and two kids, three and eight.
Me: Do they go to school here?
Me: How are the school systems in Italy?
Taxi: Not so good.
(Antony. Male, Late 60’s, Occupation: Chef and Cooking Instructor.)
Me: Hey Chef, do you need to be called Chef?
Antony: (Cooley) No.
Me: DID you need to be called Chef?
Antony: Once upon a time. As a young man, if you didn’t call me Chef I would get very angry.
Me: I ask because I struggle with being called an artist. I want to be called an Artist but it’s probably more important knowing that I am. It’s just, I want other people to know.
Antony: Don’t worry about it. Artists live in a different world.
Me: Yes they do.
Antony: When I go to the market and I see a fish I don’t think about price, I think, I want that fish and I buy it. Same with you and your paints and your canvas. You see what you like and want what you want.
(MALE, MID-FORTIES, OCCUPATION: tOUR GUIDE)
ME: Question for you. A history question. Like how other countries such as Peru or Mexico have shamanism, you know, the occult and magic - does Italy have this?
GUIDE: Yes, yes. Only we don’t call them shamans, we call them witches. Mostly natural remedies for healing. The mushroom is very popular here - you know like the one at Walt Disney World - the big red thing with the white dots. They do this to see visions like ayahuasca. Our history of the occult began in the 16th century mostly with women. Those who practiced were burned for practicing.
ME: The witch trials?
GUIDE: Right, yes, and around the same time in Spain there was he inquisition. Although in Spain the torture was much worse. They did not want people practicing magic.
ME: Who didn’t? The church?
GUIDE: Yes. They knew things. Those who practiced were killed, their work destroyed. Unfortunately all of this knowledge became lost. Much like the philosopher, Jordano Bruno, you’ve heard of him?
ME: No, who is he?
GUIDE: He was a, how do you say, philosopher. Before Galileo, even, he was figuring stuff out about how the universe worked. He did good. But the church thought bad of him like he was the devil and stuff like that.
ME: Do you personally think there is something more than natural herbs like the spirit world!
GUIDE: There has to be something more.