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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.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mixed Blessings

This past week has been a busy one and so I have not had much time to blog. In addition, I have been swept up by the events at Virginia Tech and find myself glued to the news almost every night. When people ask me how it feels to be back in the states, I tell them I am happy.

Just a few things I’ve taken note of this week alone:

1. I can go shopping on the Sunday, as most major stores are open. We usually like to go on at least one shopping trip together as a family on the weekends.

2. At the park, Veronica and I see scores and scores of different faces, Indian, South African, Caucasian, Filipino, African-American, Asian and many interracial children and couples.

3. Ethnic food is affordable.

4. My neighbors are not suspicious of me. Perfect case in point, I noticed a woman in my apartment complex living here also a temporary basis. Since I am from the area, (she is from Texas), I asked if she needed help finding a way around. She informed me she has three kids that were dying for McDonald’s, some library books and a place to play. I drew her a map of the closest grocery store, library and playground. I even accompanied her to Circuit City where she found a replacement for her GPS navigator. It felt good to offer help to a neighbor and even better, when she accepted it. Next week we plan on getting the kids together and heading to the Children’s Museum in Seattle.

5. Being close to my sister and some great friends enriches my life and Veronica’s life more than I can say.

Still after all these blessings, I still feel a bit of hesitance in saying that America is better than Italy. Part of me believes it yet part of me does not. The perfect case in point being all the violence that I’m seeing on the news every night. A friend of mine that lives in Umbria ( she used to live in Washington, DC) told me the biggest difference, or one of the biggest differences about her life in Italy is that it is much less violence all around her.

Let me be the first to say I have no idea, percentage wise, what the differences in violent crime are in America versus Italy. But off the top of my head I dare to say America‘s numbers are higher than Italy. In Italy, I was very careful to keep my pocketbook zipped away in my purse and to make sure my cell phone was not in plain view. Little petty crimes were a nuisance but never once did I feel that I was in danger of being bodily harmed. I have seen men jump out of cars at traffic lights in Rome and wave their fists at one another. I have seen at the post office when someone cuts in line. I have seen more than one person annoyed that someone has doubled parked behind them. I have never been afraid of someone pulling out a gun and firing it. (Even though the Italian police routinely carry machine guns, in front of synagogues and especially at the airport.)

When I watch MSNBC “To Catch a Thief”, “To Catch a Predator”, or “To Catch a Con Man” (undercover investigations involving identity theft, sexual predators and or scams) I wonder If these things go on in Italy. I am sure they do but they are just not publicized. If anybody has some real statistics please point me to them as I’m interested in knowing what the truth really is.

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At 10:43 PM, Anonymous J.Doe said...

I don't think of the petty crimes in Italy as a 'nuisance'. In my four years of living there I was robbed 4 times. They may not have been violent robberies with a gun, but I was out a few hundred euros each time. In my 35 years of living stateside I was not robbed even once. I don't have any official statistics for you, but my personal experience is enough for me.

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Buzzurro said...

"When I watch MSNBC “To Catch a Thief”, “To Catch a Predator”, or “To Catch a Con Man” (undercover investigations involving identity theft, sexual predators and or scams) I wonder If these things go on in Italy."

Please, get informed about recent Italian history of sexual predators (ever heard about Pietro Pacciani ?), scams (they do happen in Italy), and ID thefts, all phenomena existing in Italy.

At 3:14 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

I think on reason might be the shere size of the USA and the mediahype that you get the feeling 'everyday something really horrible is going on in the US' .. at least that was my feeling when I grew up in Europe.

As for the 'Catch the predator' .. they should try that show in Fiji .... every week I was reading an article in the papers of some uncle getting too friendly with his niece, nephew or the family goat ...

Oh .. and of course the biggest issue / foundation of violance in the US: too many guns around!!!

At 7:25 AM, Anonymous dario said...

Uhm... yes... pizza, pasta, mafia, mandolino... ok, i can understand the way somebody like a snob american doesn't want to be integrated in Italy although she pretends she is trying to, but... policemen with machine guns in front of synagogues? Why the hell they should?

Ciao ;-)

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

Ciao Dario,
I think your Italain wit maybe getting away from me. Are you implying that I am a snob American? I do not feel the great need to defend myself but I can assure you I am not a snob just b/c I am not a socialist. It's true I never integrated into Italy but my MIL tells me I am more Italian then any non-Italian she has ever met. I don't think Italians corner the market on filial piety, love of good food, sports, travel, and beautiful things.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger ajm said...

Hi Gia! I don't think you're "Italian". You're American by education. What I think is that you put all your energies into your adventure in Italy and really tried to start a life as an Italian. You were able to begin to understand how Italians live, feel the differences and were also starting to appreciate the good things Italy has to offer. But it's not easy to adapt to something even small but worse than what you were accustomed to. And life in Italy is not easy if you come from the US. The small cultural differences bring you every day to compare what you had and what you have. And unfortunately for Italy the US wins on many aspects.
Italy has a lot of potentials and nice things. But the reality is that there are way to many problems and no one willing to solve them

At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dario -before you start flaming in English people, you'd better learn to write in English. Just a little hint "snob" does not mean the same thing in English as it does in Italian. :)


At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a fun fact: 76% of the world’s serial killers are from the US, the majority being from California.

in italy, protecting myself from petty theft was a full time job. i was always asking myself, is my purse zipped? am i holding it in front of my body (with my arm across it)? is there nothing in my pockets? ugh, exhausting. and walking around at night, i definitely didn't have anything valuable on me.

in america, i never worry about petty theft. and even if i lose something like a cell phone or wallet, i have some confidence a good samaritan will find it and return it. (even though i have had a couple things stolen)

i wondered about the same thing while i was in italy, do they have as much violent crime as in the US? do italian parents worry about pedaphiles lurking at their children's schools? do people get raped by intruders in their homes? do shop keepers get shot and killed for a few hundred dollars? but then again, american news and programs totally sensationalize violent crimes... so, who knows.

as a daily convenience, i prefer not to worry about my purse being pickpocketed every minute of the day.

-a reader in Cali

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps. both things stolen were not from my purse; one was from my house, and one was something i lost.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Percentage wise America and South Africa have the highest crime rates of any industrialized nation. We both also have the highest percentage of people incarcerate.

While petty crime might be a bigger problem overseas, when it comes to violent crimes, murder, rapes etc. esp. with guns, we lead the pack.

Maybe becaused I lived in NYC I never felt unsafe in Rome. At least there I don't have to worry about some random gang banger shooting me on the 405 freeway.


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