Italian Life Olympics – Event #2

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"If you missed my first post on Italian Life Olympics, click here to catch up.

So, back to event #2: crossing the street in Italy.

No, no! It’s no joke. In order to correctly perform this task in busy, crowded, car-congested cities like Roma or Napoli, there’s a certain level of skill required or else –


Some Mario Andretti wannabe will remorselessly metterti sotto (run you over) in their little Fiat 500 without a backward glance while you’re left, stuck to the pavement, newly resembling a human pizza. Fiat 500

Wishing earnestly to avoid this fate, you keep your wits about you and gear up for the event. (Some people choose to say a hearty goodbye to their loved ones beforehand – you never know!).


“Today I’m crossing the street.” “Call when you get to the other side.”

You walk to the curb of the street you wish to cross and size up the amount of traffic (probably molto) that’s crossing your path. You pay no attention (this is important) to what’s going on with the semafori (traffic lights) or the strisce (crosswalks), because the drivers don’t either. You take in the speed, the size of the vehicles and any other obstructions in the area. You toe up to the edge.

Then you turn your head towards oncoming traffic and catch the eye of a driver in the lane closest to you. Now, they’re not really slowing down yet, but you know this is your chance. You maintain eye contact with the driver, steel yourself for the exertion ahead, step off the curb and you…

Walk into traffic.

Chin up, head high, like you own the street. And you keep walking.

You catch the eye of other  drivers as they approach you, and something miraculous happens. Sensing that you’re actually serious about traversing their path, and that their sewing-machine engines are no match for you, they’ll take in your confident stride and acquiesce. Momentarily.

And like Moses parted the Red Sea, the traffic will part, if only briefly, to allow your safe passage to the other side.

But don’t dawdle, and per l‘amor del cielo (for goodness’ sake), don’t run. You’ve gotta look like you’re in control or else someone’s foot might get a little heavy at your display of weakness and – POM! The human pizza fate is once again yours.


All of this fuss can be avoided if you can cross in the company of a nun or priest. Italian drivers will sooner crash than harm someone in a habit!


Say a Little Prayer for Me…

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"I’m going to ask you to farmi un piacere. Do me a favour. Please.

As I’ve maybe mentioned once or twice before, I’m in the slow and horrible process of applying for a Visa that will allow me to live and work in Italy. If you’re an active follower of this blog, you’ll have read about my past experiences in il bel paese and you’ll know that I just can’t get enough. I want to go back, and not just for a summertime visit. (Relax, Canadian friends and family. It won’t be forever!)

So I started this ridiculously complicated and frustrating Visa process in June of last year, and with the help of two great friends in Siena, have managed to get to the final stage: the application appointment at the Italian Consulate in Toronto.

Monday is judgement day. It’s the day when the hopefully happy and well-caffinated Consulate employee will peruse my pratica (application file), and check the innumerable documents I had to run willy-nilly around the public offices of Siena to get. Then they’ll either:

a) look at me kindly and say, “Signorina, everything seems to be in order. You can come back to collect your Visa next week. And, by the way, complimenti on your wonderful Italian.”

And I’ll smile.


b) brusquely point out many insufficiencies and inconsistencies with my file and say, “Signorina, I’m sorry but it is not possible to submit your Visa application today. You must do this and this and this and this and then re-book your appointment to come see us again when you really do have everything we require.”

Then I’ll cry.

Because the thing is, I’ve already done pretty much all I can possibly do to get everything they require. Every piece of paper, every stamp, every everything. My friends and I have spent hours, days of our lives even, trying to get all the required documenti (documents) to make this Visa a reality. But of course, like so many things in Italy, the country’s beautiful bureaucracy makes it impossible (in my situation) to have my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed the way they’d like them to be.

So on Monday, let’s hope for option A, shall we? But I have to admit, option B is a real possibility.

What I’m asking you, readers, is to incrociare le dita, to cross your fingers for me. Send me some good vibes and positive thoughts. And if you’re of the praying, candle-lighting persuasion, per favore, pull out all the stops because…

I really want this.

How to Become a Nomad: Embrace Uncertainty

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"This is post #3 in the “How to Become a Nomad” series. If you missed the previous posts, click here and here to catch up.

I had just returned to Canada after three and a half months of working and travelling in Europe. I was out for a morning walk with my childhood friend and her dog, and we were discussing what I’d be doing next.

“So, it’s the end of August, and you still don’t know if you have a teaching job in September?” my friend asked incredulously.

“Nope.” I responded.

“So you have no idea what you’ll be doing in a week’s time? Where you’ll get money? How you’ll be filling your days?”

“Nope. Nope. Nope,” I replied again.

“And you’re OK with this?”

My mouth started to form another “nope”, but then I reconsidered. “I have to be,” I said with a shrug. “What can I do?”

“Huh.” My friend snuck a sidelong glance at me as her dog ran up ahead of us. “Well, you don’t seem that worried.”

“I’m not.” It was true. My application was in at a school I’d worked at before. I just had to wait until they sorted out their staffing situation. If I didn’t get the job, I’d find something else. I knew I had a trip to plan for mid-December, but hadn’t really started, so that was all up in the air as well, somewhat depending on my work situation and how much moolah I made between September and December. “Like I said, what can I do?”

I was even a bit surprised by my nonchalance. A bit. What surprised me more was that it wasn’t an act. I really felt fine with all possible outcomes. Cool as a cucumber.

uncertaintyIt was the moment I realized I’d learned to embrace uncertainty.

It’s a freeing feeling, really, being OK with many of the possible options of what could happen in your life, feeling like you can handle most any turn of events, as long as they don’t involve some harm to someone you love. It’s wonderful.

Get the job, not get the job. Travel now, travel later.

And it’s sort of the way you’ve got to be if you want to be a nomad, moving around all the time, new places, new faces, new challenges, new problems.

Make the train, miss the train. Make the flight, miss the flight.

You don’t know what’s coming next and you’ve probably got very limited control over it. You’ve got to work to not let that keep you up at night.

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

I’ll admit that I still think about the future and wonder what lies ahead. Like I said, I work contract jobs and never know until the last minute if I’m hired or not. I’m waiting on Italian working papers so I can’t plan much if I don’t know which country I’ll be in… But do I fret?


Does it keep me up at night?

Only the excitement of it all.

excited!That said, embracing the uncertainty of the future is a lot easier to do when you’re standing on a solid foundation. Read more about that in my next post, “How to Become a Nomad: It Takes a Lot of Planning to Be Carefree.”