A day in the life.

For those who ask advice how to start a new life in Italy, I repeat one of the best pieces of advice I was given when we first got here. Engage in the normal flow of life in your city. Go to the bar and just sit and read, walk down the street everyday, shop in the local stores. I also suggest you find an expat group; you will need that support and help from those that came before you, but don’t fall prey to the temptation that some do and wrap yourself in an English speaking world. It is possible to live here with very little command of the language, but you will be missing out on so much. Take lessons; people will very much appreciate that you are making the effort. The pace of life here is often described as “piano, piano.” Or slowly, slowly.

A few things are different. 

Milk is sold in liters and is not refrigerated until it is opened. This is because it is ultra high temp treated and can safely be stored for months. You can buy milk from the cooler case that has not been treated. How is the taste of the treated milk. I really never noticed much difference. There are two types. “Intero” is Whole Milk and Parzialmente Scremato is like 1% or 2%. 

Eggs are not refrigerated. This is because they have not been washed to strip the outer layer. Chickens are also vaccinated against salmonella. 

Produce is typically what is in season. Traditionally Italians would shop every few days. Kitchens were small, the American open floor plan with tons of counter space is a fairly new. Neighborhoods had all the shops you needed. In most towns of decent size you still have them within walking distance. Meat, fish, bread, pasta, fruit and veggies. All fresh and from stores where you will soon get to know the owners. They are finding it more difficult to thrive these days as giant supermarkets lure people away with lots of parking and tons of variety. 

Wines are very good and inexpensive. People buy from a wine shop, market or direct from the cantina. The cantina is the sell point for a particular winery. Table quality wine can be acquired for about a euro a liter. Twelve to fifteen Euro will get you a bottle of their featured high quality wines. In Abruzzo expect to see mostly Montepulciano wine for the  typical red, Cerasulo for a lighter red, and Pecorino  and Trebbiano are the whites. You can of course find wines from other regions and some foreign wines. Look for a good Enoteca (wine shop) to supply you with a never ending variety of new wines to try.

I try to urge people to shop local whenever then can. It can be a little intimidating if your language skills are at a beginner level, but the store owners are very patient, very helpful and they really need the local business. After just a few visits they will remember you make you feel very welcome. 

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