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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Things I have Noticed About Italy Part 6

Why oh why do I keep saying this will be the last installment of “Things I Notice?” I take it all back. Something tells me that as long as I am living in Italy, I will post about “Things I Notice.” This list is relatively short, not many things turn my head or surprise me anymore. You can say that I have settled a bit more and have gotten “used” to things here in Italy.

1. Baby Bottles and what’s in them

Not only do children in Italy drink form bottles until the average age of 3-4 and as late as 5. Biscotti Plasmon, a kind of baby cookie is added to the milk. The cookies dissolve into a mush as it thickens the milk. Demetrio remembers adding this to his sisters’ baby bottles and now that I am working with kids again, I see this practiced at the school and at home. In the U.S. babies are encouraged to fall asleep unassisted. They are discouraged from falling asleep with a bottle of milk, since this can cause the teeth to rot. If a bottle is absolutely necessary, water is encouraged. When I lived in Guam it was very common to see bottles filled with Kool-Aid and with the Kool-Aid came rotten teeth. It was strange to see 3, 4 and 5 year olds with silver caps on their front teeth to inhibit the rotting.

2. P is for Practicing

You can’t help but notice the giant P’s written on an 8 ½ X 11 piece of paper and taped to the back window of many cars it Italy. At first I thought the “P” stood for peace, in protest to the war in Iraq. Demetrio informed me car that have new licenses have to display a “P”. Italy has point system for its drivers. Don’t quote me directly, I know of the idea but not the 100% specifics. You begin your driving record with an allotment of something like 40 points. With each infraction points are subtracted from your total and you may also be fined. For example, if you are caught without a seatbelt, that will cost you 5 points. After you’ve used up the 40 points you have to re-take a driving school course, they are not cheap, and once again re-apply for your license. If and when you get it re-issued, you start with a clean slate.

3. Shopping trolleys

One of the great things about Italy is the public markets. There is one in every neighborhood. Oftentimes you only have to walk out your front door and you have access to fresh fruits and vegetables as well as goods of all kinds. My neighborhood market is 5 blocks from my house. On Saturdays a famous “purse guy” sells great purse at discount prices. After a morning of shopping for food, I am usually lugging plastic bags and canvas bags that must weigh at least 30 pounds. Just last week after my visit to Porta Palazzo, I bought my first grocery trolley. I wanted a tall one so I did not have to stoop, one with giant wheels and one that I could fold up and tuck away. After a bit of searching I found one that is washable, sturdy and light. I had never seen one of these before I arrived in Italy. Anyone that goes to flea markets, public market or even grocery shopping should have one, it is a godsend.


At 11:44 PM, Anonymous LB said...

I like the P signs in the windows. In Japan, new drivers have a special sign on their cars and, even if you're not a newbie, you can opt to have this sign so that other drivers will watch out when they're around you.

These systems make so much sense! The U.S. should adopt something along these lines!

At 2:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 20 points only.
Newbies are substracted two time the basic amount per infraction.
A seasoned driver would lose 5? the newbie 10.

In the news have been reported young people that were able to lose 52 points in five minutes.

I saw a car sadly showing a paper saying:

"Scusate, lo so che vado piano, ma ho solo piu' cinque punti!"

{"Please forgive me, I do know I'm running too slow, but I have only 5 points left!"}


At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Sabrina said...

I have to make a comment on Plasmon biscuits... I like them a lot! They are really good and when you begin eating one you cannot stop (but I do not eat them with milk)... Have you tried them?


At 8:30 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Sensible Italians!

Here in England, new drivers get a large green P for displaying in their back window somewhere, but not all of them do.

Regarding points, everyone starts with a clean bill. If you are caught speeding, you are normally given 3 points and a £30 fine. More serious cases are given more points and higher fines. If you have four bald tyres, for example, you can be fined up to £1000 per tyre and immediate ban. If you are cuaght drunk driving, you are usually banned for a year and have to re take you test.

If you re commit an offence, you are given more point. Once you reach 12 points, you are banned for a year and often have to retake your test. However, after three years or so, points fall off your license. SO, if in 1997 you got caught speeding and were issued 3 points and a £30 fine then got caught again in 2002, those earlier points would no longer count.

For those who have been driving for less than three years, points and fines are double.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

Sabrina, no I have not tried plasmon but I like novellini and osvego cookies dipped in coffee. They soak up just the right about of coffee before they fall apart. Yummy.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger H. (aka. NC_State_Gal) said...

YIKES...if I lived in Europe, I would not be able to drive *haha*. Very interesting observations listed in this post.

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

I love your little shopping cart. Mine is just a bit too short and uncomfortable to use, also a bit tippy, so I need to find a better one.


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