Italian Tidbits

Today I just have 3 quick and random things that I wanted to share with you. These lil’ tidbits aren’t really substantial enough to merit blog posts unto themselves, so I’ve decided to stick ‘em all together here for a lovely *guazzabuglio of Italian things.

1) McDonald’s, Italian Style

Beer at McDonald's

Beer at McDonald’s

There are two things about McDonald’s in Italy that would never function in the USA. Firstly, you have to pay for condiments here. Not on the sandwiches themselves, but like, if you want extra dipping sauces for your nuggets or even ketchup and mayonnaise for your fries. Americans love their condiments and sauces way too much for such a thing to work. While an Italian can pay ten cents and make do with one ketchup packet, Americans need to drown things and would probably spend more money on the sauces than on the actual food itself. The other thing is that Italian McDonald’s serves beer! Good stuff, too! Peroni! Italians are more responsible than Americans when it comes to drinking. They can have one beer with their value meal, and move on. In America, beer at McDonald’s would turn into a sh!tshow and there would be people puking in the ball pit.

2) Gucci Fashion Map

Gucci Map

Gucci Map – Front

Gucci Map - Back

Gucci Map – Back

Everybody knows that Milan is a European fashion capital. But did you know that Gucci has actually made a sort of fashion map to help you find their various stores around the city. Crazy, right? And this map only includes the actual Gucci stores and official retail spots, not  stores where Gucci happens to be sold together with other brands. I just think this is so cool! In fact, I had one hanging up in our bathroom for a while! Talk about taking a fashion shower!

3) Shutter Holders Thingys

Italian Shutter Holders

Italian Shutter Holders

I’m not sure exactly how to call these things in Italian or English, but they’re the things that you use to hold window shutters open and flush against the house. I’ve really Googled the crap out of these things to try and find out more information on them, but have been largely unsuccessful. Besides learning that they are popular in France too, I haven’t been able to figure out much so I’m just going to have to go on what I’ve heard from other people regarding these things. Looking at the photo, you’ll note that when the shutter holder thingy is in the up position you can see the face of a man, and when it’s down you can see the face of a woman. Cute, aren’t they? Well, rumor has it that these faces are supposed to represent Giuseppe Garibaldi and Anita Garibaldi. I haven’t been able to “officially” verify this, but at this point my blog is all the authority you need, right? ;-P

* If you don’t remember what guazzabuglio means, click here for the Italian Phrasebook.

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Spooky and so very “in”

It’s Halloween time once again!

I, for one, am wicked excited! As I’ve talked about in previous blog posts (click here and here) I seriously love Halloween! This past weekend we decorated our house for the holiday with lots of things given to me by family and friends back in the USA. This includes having Halloween themed bowls with some fun candy.

Halloween candy in our apartment

So, we made our apartment all ready for Halloween, complete with the smell of a freshly baked pumpkin pie (the 1st one I’ve ever made … it turned out ok, nothing spectacular). However I felt that I, myself, wasn’t quite ready for the holiday. This has been kind of a hectic and busy month for me and I didn’t really get the chance to enjoy October as much as I’d usually like to. I feel as if I didn’t do enough “autumny/Halloweeny” things.

Well, a little pumpkin bracelet has made me feel better and has put me a heck of a lot more “in the Halloween spirit”.

Italian brand Cruciani has these colorful bracelets that are EVERYWHERE in Italy now and were extremely “in” this summer. It’s impossible to go anywhere without seeing somebody sporting one.  The original form is that of a four-leaf-clover, but various other shapes (hearts, butterflies, lock and key) have come out since then. Now, just for Halloween, they made a pumpkin version, available in orange or black. As soon as I saw them I decided “you shall be mine, pumpkin-shaped bracelet!”, so I ran out and picked one up this weekend.

The window display at the Cruciani store in Milan

These bracelets are so very me! I mean, they really scream Garrett! I’m wearing mine right now as I type this and it serves as a sort of Halloween reminder, right on my wrist! It may seem silly to some of you, but this little piece of Italian fashion has made me feel better about how my October has gone and makes me all “Halloween Happy“.

This last picture I’m leaving for you guys is what I’m rocking on my wrist right now. You’ll note the orange Cruciani pumpkin bracelet and traditional green four-leaf-clover one. In the middle I’ve got a knock-of version that I got in edicola that I thought was cool because it’s got a skull and crossbones. I know this picture looks like something from Teen Beat magazine for young girls thanks to all the added images, but I couldn’t help but play around with all my photo editing apps on my iPhone! :-) Happy Halloween!

Halloween Fashion!

 

You need a Fashion Shower

Self-declared  Italian fashionista Anna Dello Russo decided to dabble in dancy EuroTrash to promote her new line of products for H&M. This is the result…

This song is totally a guilty pleasure and it’s fun and catchy, but the English is really horrendous and the video will change your life forever (whether for good or bad I’m still not sure). I can’t get enough of “Fashion Shower“, but watch the video below and decide for yourself.

 Divertitevi!

Fashion is… my… alphabet.

I am the guardian … I am the guardian of fashion.

You need a Fashion Shower.

Collect ‘em all!

I love Italian edicole (newsstands). They’re colorful and cute and “so very European” in my opinion.

I’m not really a newspaper or magazine reader (though I love books), however, Italian edicole have much more than just reading material. They have stuff like collectible stickers, trading cards, small toys, key chains, and bracelets that turn me back into a little kid and make me feel like I’m at the Italian version of the Balich 5 & 10 store in my hometown where I used to get little surprises if my report card was good (which it often wasn’t).

These edicole even have stuff with characters like I Puffi (The Smurfs), MadBalls (a throwback to the 80’s), and Barbapapa (a French cartoon that’s very popular in Italy too).

I love all these little gadgets and though I’m usually pretty good at contenting myself by only browsing, sometimes I do wind up buying something. My recent obsession is bracelets. The edicole have tons of fun bracelets, and my current favorites are Shokky Bandz. They have these cute embroidered Makramé ones that come in different shapes and colors  and  these awesome Skullini Mon Amour ones which are little plastic skull charms. Anybody who knows me knows that these bracelets are right up my alley! Each bracelet comes in a different color or shape which represent various things (bears for tenderness, hearts for love, green for energy balance, yellow for enlightenment). I mean, I’m all for tenderness, love, energy balance, and enlightenment, so I gotta get ‘em all, right? Right!??!

These bracelets are usually marketed as a summertime thing too, so now is the time to start decorating your wrists! In fact, there is a very common non-edicola rainbow string bracelet that you can see all over Italy. There are guys selling them (read: pushing them on you) every day in Piazza Duomo in Milan, but they are mostly thought of as the bracelets bought from guys that walk up and down the many Italian beaches, selling to sunbathers. These things are literally everywhere in the summertime. I mean, you can even see them peeking out under the sleeves of “suit and tie” businessmen as they walk down the street with their briefcases. I think this in itself is very Italian – the combination of serious (and most likely expensive and tailor fitted) business attire paired with a €1 rainbow bracelet bought from a street vendor. Hey, as long as it’s fashionable, who cares!

You want a lucky bracelet? Only €1!

I have so many bracelets at this point that it would be impossible to wear them all at the same time without Stretch Armstrong limbs. I mean, even with the 5 or 6 that I tend to wear together my boyfriend says that I look “like a Christmas tree” :-D. Can you imagine what it’d be like if I wore ‘em all at once?

Let’s close out today by taking a look at some of my fashionable and very VIP summer bracelet looks. Feel free to imitate me if you want to… I mean it’s the highest form of flattery, after all!

Look 1

Look 2

Look 3

Leave a comment letting me know which bracelet look you like the best (and don’t forget to do the poll below)!

Grabbing milk and bread … in heels!

Something like quickly running to the store just for milk and bread or popping by the ATM to withdraw 50 bucks is an easy and effortless task in America. You throw on a pair of somewhat clean sweatpants and a backwards baseball cap over your messy hair, head out, do your thing, and you’re back home in a jiffy.

Not so in Italy! Italians, as we all well know, are a fashionable bunch. Italians will take the time to comb or pull back their hair, apply some make-up or moisturizer, and choose a casual but well-thought-out outfit for such a menial task. Even running to the corner store is an opportunity to show what you’re workin’ with (or break in your new Armani shoes)!

Let’s turn to the world of celebrities to help me underline my point.

Here’s Britney Spears looking sloppy and disheveled:

I know, I know … LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!

And here is Italian celebrity Ilary Blasi lookin’ good ’round the neighborhood:

Hot damn!

Shall we play “spot the difference”? ;-)

Italian fashion(able) police

Italians have many more branches of the police than we Americans do.

We have, what, just the local police and state police? Am I missing any here? Luckily, I haven’t had much experience with the police in America, so I’m not too sure.

Well Italians have lots of different types of police strolling around town – 8 to be exact. The only ones that I can think of right now are the polizia (civil police), carabinieri (military police) guardia di finanza (financial guard), and polizia di stato (state police), though that’s only half of ‘em.

Honest to God, I’ve been living in Italy for almost 6 years now and I still have no idea exactly what each different faction does or who the hell I would call in case of need. Luckily, I haven’t had much experience with the police in Italy either.

If you want more details on all the different types of Italian police, check out the Wikipedia page because  I am definitely not the right guy to be teaching you about these things. I’m not here to give you all the specifics on what roles the Italian police fulfill, but rather I wanted to tell you about how gosh-darned snazzy they are! Not only does their fleet include the super-cool Lamborghini police car (no, that picture at the beginning is not a fake!), but they are always dressed to the nines!

Rumor has it that either Valentino or Armani have designed some of the different types of police uniforms being used today in Italy. Neither the Italians that I’ve spoken to, nor my research on the internet has been able to officially prove or disprove this, so I guess I should just chalk it up to a possibly true urban legend. (If any of you readers have any knowledge on this, please let me know). However, it certainly could be true, I mean look at these tailor-fit fashionable Italian police uniforms:

Excuse me, how friggin’ Italian are these last two policemen? Smoking cigarettes, dark chopper sunglasses, tight pants, and a hand gesture that seems to say “why’s this guy gotta bust my chops!”. It’s stereotypically delicious!

Are you gay, or Italian? … Or both?

Well, I’d say that the guy over there with the glittery belt, tight package-showing jeans, bright pink t-shirt, perfectly blow-dried and flat-ironed hair, small diamond nose piercing, and Gucci man-bag is gay. Or, he’s Italian. Same thing.

It’s really hard to tell gay guys from “fashion victims” in Italy, and it’s been seriously screwing with my gaydar. The gay fashion and Italian fashion circuits are not mutually exclusive circles. (Oh my God! Did I just make a Venn diagram reference??! I suck at math! I’m proud of myself!)

slightly vagina-like Venn diagram

Now, of course I’m using stereotypes here when I talk about this particular type of gay man or Italian fashion victim. I’m the first one to get upset over stereotypes, so I just wanted to clear that up (though stereotypes are based on a bit of factuality that may hold true for some people). That being said, the fashion culture is so different between America and Italy. Italian guys (both gay and straight) tend to do things brighter and tighter than their American counterparts, and this can lead to some confusion for a gay American guy living in Italy.

I think that a straight, male, Italian, fashion victim wold have a hard time convincing any American girl that he wanted to go to bed with her, and not her brother. They really dress to impress, and put a lot of time and effort into how they appear. Think MTV’s Jersey Shore, only less “guido” and more gay. Now, sometimes a guy may be gay and Italian, but in the other cases it’ll certainly be a challenge trying to understand if the guy who’s dancing with Ray Ban sunglasses on, sipping a martini, and sporting a fake tan is homosexual or comes from bella Italia.

So, what does all this matter? Nothing! Who cares if someone is gay or straight or Italian or American? Not me! I just get a kick out of the fact that I could spend half my time going around Milan asking “Hey, are you into dudes, or are you just Italian?”

Form vs. Function

My Change Purse

I have this really ugly and very “vagina-esque” change purse (see above). It’s really not the coolest or trendiest looking thing in the world, but you know what… it works. It works real well! It opens easily (by gently pinching it on the sides where the slit ends) and it closes securely, keeping a good chunk of change tidily in your pocket. My Dad always had one of these, and I got mine because I think he put one in my Christmas stocking one year, or something like that. I guess I just took this type of change purse for granted… that is, untill I brought one back with me to Italy.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a hit this simple little change purse has been! I have had Italian friends, co-workers, nameless cashiers at supermarkets and stores, and just about anybody else who has ever seen the thing, ask me what it is, how it works, and where I got it. It’s amazing! This little (and unsightly) change purse is making waves in my little Italian social circle.

When I tell all of my Italian friends that this change purse is “proudly made in the USA”, they are usually a bit disappointed (they won’t be getting their hands on one until I go back to the States for a Christmas or summertime visit), but they don’t really seem all that surprised. You see, something so functional and so damn ugly could only come from the USA.

America makes a lot of highly functional, practical, and usually affordable products. These American products though, are often a bit plain-looking or even downright ugly. Italy, on the other hand, is known for good-looking, trendy, sexily designed products. However, these Italian creations are usually completely unpractical and/or a big strain on the wallet.

The best example I can think of at the moment is shoes. American shoes may look a little shoddy and “Frankensteiny” as I have been told by some Italians, but they are comfortable, slip and skid proof, and affordable. Italian shoes are sleek, cool, and fashionable, but they will make your feet bleed, they cost a ton, and you’ll most likely end up falling on your ass while walking into some chic restaurant.

practical and functional

 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

fashionable and trendy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italians prefer the form and Americans prefer the function.

Are there any “middle ground” products in these two countries which combine both form and function, you ask me. Yes, I’m sure there are, but that works against the point I’m trying to make here, and this is my blog so…

P.S. In the picture at the top of the post, my cheap American change purse is sitting on my ridiculously expensive (and cool) Italian Prada wallet. I am such a hybrid!