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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.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Things I Have Noticed About Torino/Italy Part 9

1. The Mall on Sundays

Can you say hectic, crazy, filled to the brim, madhouse not to mention just plain insane? Remember when I said that it was hard to go grocery shopping on Sundays as most grocery stores are closed? Well I stand corrected; there are a few in town that have “extraordinary hours”, once a month or so. When they do, the customers flock like sheep to the parking lots, isles and cash registers. Cars were parked on the sidewalk, on curbs, on grassy areas, on the median and everywhere else, just to get to the mall and to the grocery store last Sunday. I have decided because of this crowding we would only have to brave the masses once a month. So Deme and I head off with our list to pick up pantry items, cleaning stuffs and other staples as infrequently as possible. During the week I shop at the little shops near our house and at the market. With this little adjustment I can say we have improved our quality of life immensely.

2. Man Purses

I am not talking about plain ole fanny packs. I am talking about certified man purses and usually hang on a man’s neck. It looks like a purse, smells like a purse and if I licked it I bet it would taste like a purse too. It IS a purse. There are a few that a man can wear around his waist but unlike fanny packs that are nylon/acrylic and cheap looking in nature, Italian man purses are sleek, black, leather and often matching. I have seen men and women coordinate their purses, the most recent offender was a husband and wife pair that we sat next to at a dinner. She had a Gucci handbag and he wore around his neck that little purse you get as an extra inside your handbag. I could not help but stare in awe. I wonder if I could get Deme to wear a designer man purse?

3. Handicap Access Denied

With regard to handicap access Italy is behind the times; in fact many buildings do not have elevators at all. No ramps either. My bank has a security chamber that you have to step into before you can enter the bank. I think it has a metal detector and if it detects something fishy you get trapped in the chamber and are denied access to the bank. I love this idea, but the chamber is very narrow and a wheelchair could definitely not fit inside. Stairs are the norm in Italy, people love to walk all over the place but if you have a stroller or a wheelchair getting around can be a problem. Granted the buildings are very old, the architecture is beautiful and so remodeling them may not be an option. On a positive note, the newer buildings are handicapped friendly with larger elevators and ramps for those who have trouble with stairs.

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At 2:17 PM, Blogger Stef said...

I have been told that Sunday is considered family day in Italy so the restaurants and stores tend to be packed on this day. We have a small shopping strip close to our home with just an Ovvio, a Scarpe and Scarpe and a sporting goods store. Every Sunday the parking lot is full. The other days not so much.

I totally agree with your observation on the lack of handicap accessible places. I have stayed in hotels in Italy where there is an elevator but not large enough for someone in a wheelchair to fit in. I see the inaccessibility at the airport too. Passengers have to be bussed to the plane and climb the stairs onto the plane which makes it difficult for some people who are physically unable to do so. The airline has to make special arrangements to get a lift. There are not too many jetways in Italy.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Anything open on Sunday is a small miracle here, except restaurants, of course. I've gotten used to it and now rather than have the family culture alter, I'm for it.
Now, here's a task for you. Look at Deme's rear end. Is it closely covered with well-fitted trousers, or with baggy trousers with a lumpy pocket? I'm for men's bags/purses if it saves the delectible Italian butt from ruin. If men wear sports or suit jackets, they have pockets for slim wallets and glasses and cell phones. If they don't, they end up distributing them around where they spoil the view.
Yes, those bank entrances and most public buildings are not wheelchair friendly, but most Italians are and will help out. We have a number of confined folks in my town and no one lets them fend for themselves, although they do go out on their own.

At 2:25 AM, Anonymous J.Doe said...

When I walk down the narrow sidewalks always blogged by motorinos I often too think of how life must be near impossible for those in wheelchairs.Most of the building here are old, and many have been retrofitted with ramps for handicapped, but many haven't.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger american girl in italy said...

The man purse! I love it. haha I think men really need them nowadays, with ipods, cellphones, sunglasses, wallets, blackberrys, and what have you. I always end up with a 50 lb. purse, because Franco throws all his stuff in my bag. I bought him a Jack Spade messenger bag, but he won't use it. Maybe I should try a man bag. hehe I doubt he will use that either...

I always thought those double doors in banks/pos were to slow down thieves, or that they were taking a picture of you. I never thought about a metal detector... That would be a good idea!

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Typesetter said...

Sara, the main trait of the Italian male is not his affection to his mom. it is the fact that he dumps in his partner's bag all his stuff. I always have an overflowing bag, too full from my own stuff (I don't have bags, I have houses with a strap!), and every now and than Luca insists that he wants to leave something in there: his keys (nowhere as many and my own two-partments-and-one-office bunch, but still quite sizeable), his glasses (hey, you, yes I am talking to you: I alrady have two pairs of glasses packed in this bag: how can I fit in yours too?!), his wallet (customarly stacked full with scraps f paper that he never throws away)... One day I will accept, than ask him to carry the bag for the whole day, for a test! è_é

At 12:39 PM, Blogger melusina said...

I've noticed male purses here in Greece too. In fact, my father-in-law stopped by briefly tonight and I was in the entrance hall and said to myself "what is that purse doing here???" then I realized it was his. Oops.

Places open on Sundays? Not bloody likely. Occasionally in the smaller villages we have lived in small grocery stores were open on Sundays in the summer, but it is very, very rare. I think there is actually some kind of law about it, because they recently made it so places can stay open until 8pm on Saturdays (instead of 6) and immediately all the big chain supermarkets and stores like Ikea started being open later. Maybe someday Sundays will happen too but I don't expect it anytime soon. Saturdays is the crowded like mad day here. I don't know why I always choose SAturday for Ikea shopping.

Handicapped access is atrocious here in Greece as well. While I am not in a wheelchair, I have a collapsed hip so getting around is difficult. It is especially difficult when cars park on sidewalks and block ramp access. While many buildings seem to have elevators, most are too small for wheelchairs, and there are usually steps leading up to the building anyway (and no ramps). I've read that Europe in general is way behind on disabled access.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger MeatEater said...

With all these Italian documents, we really need a purse! I've got a palm, cell phone, ipod, normal sized wallet and another wallet thingy for my Italian documents. And people get mad at me because I don't want to carry around a whole bunch of Euro coins and pay them will large bills or bancomat!

I also noticed the thing about the handicap access. With all these tiny car parking slots, parking space here is too small for me so for sure they have problems just getting out of their car. Sidewalks are usually all cobblestone or brick and never have ramps.

Sunday is family day, and what do they do? They go downtown. But wait, all the stores are closed. Why? Because the government says so! And people want to complain about the economy! People say they can't arrive to the end of the month with their paycheck. I bet when they're too busy giving their money to Gucci, Rolex, BMW, and Armani. I don't know about Torino but here in Treviso there are so many Porsche 911's and Cayenne's, Mercedes CLS, S500, SLK, etc. Sorry to rant on your blog!!! :-)

ciao, David

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