Italians abroad March 25, 2007Posted by dorigo in personal, travel.
London is a familiar place to me. I was away for 14 years and still, everything is just like I remembered. The colors, the sounds, the people. The orderly queues of one. And, as usual, far too many italians…
Long ago, italians abroad used to be even more annoying than italians at home, if anything because their voice used to be louder in the streets, in restaurants, in museums. I used to feel embarassed whenever I could spot italians acting silly, but it has gotten better in the last twenty years, with the increase of travel abroad. Because somehow we have started to learn how to behave. The unification of Europe makes us feel more at home in France, in Germany, in Greece – and even in good ole England, whose renitency to a total embracing of the european community is perceived as a bit childish and useless act in the face of a de facto belonging to the now 50 years old Europe and the widespread acceptance of european currency.
The result of my compatriots’ behavior is that while 20 years ago when abroad I would desperately try to conceal my nationality, I now feel more comfortable with it. So, when a couple of italians stopped me this afternoon in Cromwell Road to ask for directions to Harrod’s in a fourth grader English which betrayed the latitude and longitude of their home town to within tenths of a degree, I did not even start pretending, and I spoke italian to them, without hesitation. It felt natural, and I felt at home.
Maybe the best sign of the general yielding to the concept that italians are a large chunk of the foreigners traveling to London – and thus they are not to be ignored – is the fact that the Gatwick Express has now elected Italian as one of the languages in which it announces stations and traveling tips. In 1982 trains spoke English, French, German, and Spanish.