This delicious dish made of pasta, tomato sauce, olives, capers, and pepperoncini was named after a “puttana” (a whore), because it was thought to be so easy and quick to make that prostitutes could cook it up between clients.
This is an interesting contrast to French, a language I studied for eight years, which sometimes ignores the pronunciation of the last half of a word and replaces it with a breathy noise.
Even Italian Americans ignore this fact of the Italian language when pronouncing Italian words. Often Italian Americans drop the last letter or two, contrary to Italians. “Mozzarella” becomes “mozzarel,” “braciola” becomes “brajol,” “prosciutto” becomes “proshoot,” “minestrone” becomes “minestron,” “fagioli” becomes “fajol” and “ricotta” becomes “rigot.”
Knowing that you must give every letter its moment is incredibly helpful when speaking Italian. No letter is left behind. It makes you realize that “grazie” is not pronounced “grazy,” as Americans like to say, but: “graz-ee-ay.” That “e” on the end has its own sound and must be pronounced separately from the “i” before it.
*Bonus pronunciation fact: When a word has double consonants in it, like “spaghetti” or “palazzo” it is indicating that you should give a slight, and extremely brief, pause at that point in the word. Making it “spaghett-i” and “palazz-o”
It’s against the rules to stay in the car when you go to an automatic car wash in Italy. Your car has all the fun without you. Shaaaaame.
…The darkness of the tunnel, the sound of the water spraying on the windows like a hurricane, the violent slapping of the spinning cloths, the snow-like soapy foam that quietly enfolds the car as you watch safely within, the terrifying vacuum that sucks the car dry, and the break of sunlight that hits you when you drive out of the cleanly storm.
Italian kids (and adults) have no idea what they’re missing.
No self-respecting Italian has a cappuccino past 11 a.m.
Cappuccinos are a morning drink, to be had with breakfast or during a mid-morning break. After 11 a.m. you will not see Italians ordering cappuccinos. Only espressos, or if you really need a dash of milk - an espresso macchiato.
Fascinating fact to an American who likes to order a cappuccino with dessert….and pretty much any time of the day. Rookie mistake that will brand you as a foreigner at any Italian bar. Now I only drink my late-day cappuccinos in secret, at home.
When checking into a hotel in Italy, all persons staying at the hotel must give their passports or photo identification — not just the person paying. Some hotels keep your passport until you check out, and others write down all of your information immediately.
I have heard that this is true for many places in Europe, but I have not had this experience in Paris or London.
It is said that this practice in Italy goes back to Fascist times when every hotel had to show a list of the people staying there every night to the state police (carabinieri).
It comes off very invasive and unnerving to an American. Unless I am using my credit card to pay, I see no reason why they must know who I am.
It is also inconvenient. The fact that I live in Florence and am not crossing any borders to take a two hour trip to Rome, it would never occur to me that I would need my passport to stay in a hotel two hours from home. And as a foreigner, your Pennsylvania driver’s license doesn’t cut it.
Needless to say, don’t plan your secret trists in Italian hotels. Cheating on your wife with a nameless lover? Not for long. That shizz is on record, bud.
Starbucks modeled its cafes on Italian coffee bars; it makes customers unwittingly speak Italian while ordering their drinks (“venti” means 20 in Italian for your 20-ounce cappuccino); runs its business in more than 50 countries; can be found every few blocks in Paris, London, and Amsterdam — but there is no Starbucks in Italy.
The one thing Starbucks did not learn from the Italians: Reasonable pricing. The cost of a cappuccino at any bar in Italy? €1.