June 26th, 2007
Miss Tango sent me this article which I found very interesting and disturbing. If you know me, you know how upset I get about foreigners coming into a country and disrespecting its social codes. One important social code in Italy is the “don’t get s***faced drunk in front of everyone and start acting like a jerk” code. But I remember all too well the behavior of a lot of “American study-abroad” kids in Perugia as well as Firenze. Italians aren’t saints either but in general they are very different than their Anglo counterparts when it comes to public drinking. (“Anglo” in this case meaning any western culture that’s not Latin.)
I think the residents of Trastevere, as mentioned in the article, have every right to be upset – this is their home. Something that has always upset me about certain groups of tourists (not all tourists, mind you) is that they seem to think that Italy is Disneyland. They think it’s built for tourists. I remember hosting a visiting American in Perugia and as we were walking through the beautiful medieval centro while I explained some of the buildings, she pointed at some of the homes said, “People actually LIVE there?” As if we were in an amusement park. She was actually surprised when I said yes. So many people forget that Italy isn’t just for tourists. Italy is a real, regular country – where people live, go to work, raise their families, vote, walk their dogs… I really don’t get where some people get their ideas, I really don’t.
Since this is a place where people WORK, it’s also a place where people – you guessed it – need to SLEEP. Drunkenly running down the street making noise doesn’t really make you look good in their eyes – and it doesn’t help them get on with their lives. Not only that, it doesn’t make life any easier for the rest of the tourists who come to Italy with the genuine desire to relax, take Italy in and learn as much as they can. Respect, people. Respect.