Italians are Still Funny-Four Funny Things I’ve Been Told Lately

It is a rather sore subject for those of us living in the toe of the Bel Paese and something we briefly hit on during a post and comments a few weeks ago, but just for kicks-here are FOUR more crazy things I’ve overheard or been told lately here in Bella Calabria.

You know how in America people in your grandparents’ generation blurt things out, offer unsolicited advice and insist their way is the only way? Well they are like that here in Calabria, too. Only it isn’t just the old folks. About a month ago I was invited to dinner at a  neighbor’s home. She made a salad-which in all honesty was a freshly cleaned head of lettuce-and asked if I wanted to add something on top. “Salt,” she asked? “Olive oil? Vinegar?”

“Sure,” I told her. “I’ll add salt and black pepper.”

Gasp! Followed by a small step back and a horrified look. “Black pepper? On your salad?”

Finally she conceded.

“But just a little,” She added as she handed me the grinder. “It will give you a kidney infection.”


Speaking of kids, I went to teach English to one of my most preziosa students a few weeks ago and took her some “American” chocolate chips cookies I’d recently snagged at a local store.

Like most 10-year-old kids, she gobbled up a cookie in 20 seconds. When I offered her another one, she shook her head wisely and said, “Oh no, Cherrye. I can’t. Too much chocolate is bad for your teeth!”

(I mean isn’t that precious? How many 10-year-olds do you know who’d turn down chocolate chip cookies?)


Remember my classroom drama from the last few weeks? Well, Americans and Italians aren’t the only ones acting up in class. Last week, my friend, Laura, was working on an assignment-an assignment, remember that they take up and turn into the EU as proof of your class-and she wrote the date across the top. Our teacher immediately took her pencil and erased the date.

“We don’t need that,” she exclaimed.

Laura was puzzled. “Uhm. Why not?”

“We just don’t,” was the curt reply as the teacher took the paper and put it on her desk.

Just then, our Russian classmate leaned over to Laura. “You worry too much,” she said. “Questo è un paese menefreghista.” Or rather, “No one here gives a damn!”

(The meaning of course being … so why should you?)


If you’ve spent much time here, you might have heard how general and vague the term “American” can be. Anyone from Canada to Argentina is often called an “American,” and some have even been referred to as being my “countrymen.” So it should have come as no surprise when one of my fellow “Americans” had just arrived in Calabria and was enthusiastically told, “You aren’t the only American here! I have someone you can meet.”

She showed up, ready to talk shop with a girl from the US of A and was promptly introduced to a girl … from Cuba.

“She’s not from America,” the American later told her contact.

“Well, almost …” came the quick reply.

“Cuba is not that far away!”

Have you heard anything cute, bizarre or funny  lately? If so, please share!

11 Responses
  1. I’ve seen this too . . . where other “Americans” in the sense of being from the Western Hemisphere *take offense* that we from the USA refer to ourselves as Americans, as if we’re then excluding them and once again lording ourselves over everybody. I don’t know what else we’re supposed to call ourselves . . .United Statesans!!!!

    Can’t believe the little girl turning down the cookie — you can certainly send it my way!!
    He he. And for the record… I ate the cookie!
    Kim B.’s last blog post..On Friends and Guilt

  2. Imani

    The pepper story reminded me of my MIL (almost) who was having fits watching me and my SO sprinkle cinnamon on our morning cappuccino. She told us it’s a drug.

    The sad thing is that she really believes it.

    He he…

  3. All of those are lovably barmy. 🙂

    I remember working with a lady who used to tell absolutely whopping fibs at tea break, with an expression that suggested she actually believed each one. Creme de la creme? She told everyone, in hushed tones, that her plastic-surgery-mad friend had gone to California and had everything replaced – INCLUDING HER ENTIRE HEAD.

    Amazing what they can do nowadays, these plastic surgeons.
    THAT is funny!!
    Mikeachim’s last blog post..Nafplio: Where Home Tracked Me Down

  4. Aussie Rob

    Ehh.. Do you know how far Australia is from the U.S.A?
    …and when we were visiting our rellies in Genova they kept calling US Americans!

  5. Mike

    Well, when i am in Calabria and some Italian does this, i will laugh and call him a Greco since he comes from Crotonos which was Calabria at one time and filled with Greeks! The same in Sicilia e Napolis!

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