Becoming Italian: Who is This Expat in the Mirror?

Natalia se ve Brillosaphoto credit: Leandro Martinez

I’ve been an expat in Italy for more than three years and I’ve experienced more than my share of crazy Calabrian moments. Yes, like the time I marketed our B&B at the GYN or the time my husband’s uncle tried to cut his son from a tree or when I was offered fruit from my own garden.

Oh yes, being an expat in Italy is interesting, but somewhere along the way, between the three-hour lunches, homemade pistachio liquor and short, but stout, coffee shots, I became one of them.


You know how in America if someone yawns, you assume they are tired. Or maybe bored? In Calabria, if you yawn they will ask you if you are hungry.

Funny, huh?

Well, I always secretly laughed at them for this observation until one day, I yawned. And yawned. And yawned.

I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t sleepy. I wasn’t bored.

I was hungry.

Don’t believe me? Pay attention to your symptoms next time you start yawning … dinner anyone?


Speaking of eating, my husband used to complain about how sweet American sweets are-so  much in fact that he let me choose all three flavors of our wedding cake because “he wouldn’t like it anyway.”

Too much sugar? I don’t think so!

Well, you can imagine my dismay last week when I tasted a pastry from the nearby bakery and said, “Eeew,” squeezing my eyes shut, “This is horrible-it is waaaay too sweet.”

As soon as the words were spoken I wanted them back. Unfortunately, it was to late. That sentiment was out there and now, sadly, it is true. I don’t like sweets that are too sweet.

Just call me Calabrian.


In similar fashion, I always held strong to my belief that water couldn’t be too cold.

Calabrians would disagree.

At least I was alone a few days ago when I drank a glass of water fresh from the refrigerator and thought, “Ouch. That hurt my teeth. This water is too cold.”

Could someone tell me, please how this happened? How did I lose my deep-rooted American beliefs and how, oh how, did I become quasi Calabrian?

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