During my first week in my new coastal town of Sorrento, Italy, I noticed a lot of different things. There is a lot to notice here because there is a lot to look at in the first place. This is a busy and colorful town, with new things to discover every day. However, there are some things that are completely impossible to overlook because they are so apparent on a daily basis. I give you those now:
For what I understand, Italians don’t really like to tear down old buildings and replace them with new ones like Americans do. Instead, they like to revise and repair existing structures. Meaning, many of the houses here were built before electricity was common. Also meaning, the freedom for modern wiring and voltage levels in Italian homes are limited. There is seriously at most one electrical outlet per wall, and maybe two per room.
Squirrels are to rural Pennsylvania as cats are to Sorrento. There are cats. Everywhere. All the time. I’m glad I’m not allergic! Many of the local people have special spots where they feed the cats their leftovers. My host family has a rope they use to lower a basket from their balcony into the brush below for the kitties.
It is very difficult to find snackage around here that isn’t carb-based. At first I wondered why, but after living here for a while, I realized that people need the extra carbs because they (and now I, also) burn a lot of energy from walking up and down so many hills.
So yeah, sidewalks aren’t a thing here. And neither are curbs or porches. Meaning, there’s not a lot of wiggle room. Little cars fill up the entire width of roads, so when people need to squeeze by, the cars have to come to a complete stand still until the people scoot by so they don’t hit the people.
I guess there are no leash laws here. Dogs are free to casually stroll alongside their human friends. The roads are now common ground for man and beast.
Italian homes can be very beautiful. And, very chilly. Since the temperature never drops below roughly 45F, Italians don’t have heating systems like we have in the US. The stone floors hold a lot of the cold, so nobody walks around (at least this time of year) without something on their feet.
If you’ve ever seen the opening scene of Disney’s Cinderella, where the birds help her get ready in the morning, you may have an idea of what showering here is like. Since there is such weak water pressure, showing is more difficult, less comfortable, and can take a little longer. Especially without the animated birdies to assist.
The American cultural value of speed and general attitude of impatience is not present here. I was intrigued by the non-rushed manner in which people operate here, especially in businesses. Instead of rushing to serve the next customers, business owners and employees really take their time and make the customers wait.
People here must have a real sweet tooth, because there are pastries available on almost every street. They are all homemade, and sold individually or sometimes by weight. They come in a wide variety of types, and are relatively inexpensive.
I come from a rural area and I’m used to living around nature. I still have that here, but the difference is that the “nature” I come from and the “nature” in Sorrento are just different from each other. Instead of bats and screech owls, I now have seagulls and pigeons. Instead of deciduous forests, I now have lemon and orange groves. Instead of rolling brooks and rippling creeks, I have the Amalfi coast.
Hayley is a current student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying at Sant’Anna Institute (SA) in Sorrento, Italy during the Spring 2016 term.