Italians love to window shop. You might say it’s one of their favorite hobbies. And, with good reason—they make beautiful displays (a local café has constantly changing flower arrangements and stacks of beautiful desserts and chocolates) and they’re of course noted for their fashion so it’s always fun to pass by the Gucci and Prada stores . . . and, Armani. Nothing says Italy like babies in Armani. I can’t afford most things, but it’s still fun to look, and it’s an excellent excuse to take a walk! It’s part of the culture to meet friends or family in the piazza and take a walk together, so when locals take their daily passeggiata around 5:00 p.m., the streets are mobbed and all the windows are lit up.
Window shopping aside, one of my favorite things about Italy is its social aspect. Americans are much more concerned about personal space and privacy, whereas Italians love to be affectionate—often in public—and cheek kissing is a standard greeting. In addition, Italians frequently come up to Alex and talk to him, touch his cheek, and chat with us about him. I love that. Of course, even in Italy more and more people spend hours in front of the computer, but it’s refreshing to see that so many people (of all ages) still meet in the piazza or along the waterfront—and stay there. While I often meet friends one-on-one in a coffee shop back home, here we gather as a group out in the open, often opting to chat outside with crowds of people around instead of holing up in someone’s apartment. Besides, who wouldn’t enjoy hearing a beautiful symphony of Italian language every day?