So you’re married to a foreigner … an Italian perspective

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This week I made some new friends, a group of expat bloggers who openly share their experiences on this infuriating and beautiful country that we call Italia and where we have all chosen to live. Occasionally we’ll be getting together to write a collective post which shares our various opinions on a particular subject. (Feeling quite proud as I’m the furthest south of all of them so I can tell some tall Mafia tales … NOT!!)

This week our subject is ‘what’s it like for an Italian to be with a foreigner’ from the perspective of our partners.

First a quick introduction to our band of misfits (be sure to check out the links to their takes on this subject) here we have:

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‘M’ is a 30-something (something low) American Texpat, living and working in her husband’s tiny hometown in the province of Reggio Emilia. Her blog,Married to Italy  is home to her rants and raves and serves as her therapeutic search for hilarity amongst the chaos.

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M.Elizabeth Evans– an American expat trapped between two worlds with her badass husband, his chest hair, and their poodle. She is a writer and partner of House Of Ossimori. Her award-winning blog Surviving In Italy, aims to honestly portray her life in Italy, the sober times, the drunken times, the yelling, food, family, and on occasion her obsession with the majestic Capybara. She’s also terrible at writing Bios. Someone do it for her next time, okay?

 

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Rick Zullo of Rick’s Rome – an American expat living in Rome. Born in Chicago and raised in Florida, he came to the Caput Mundi in 2010 and forgot to go back. When he’s not exploring his adoptive hometown or writing for his blog, he spends his time teaching the world English, one Roman at a time. Rick is also the author of the silly little eBook, “Live Like an Italian,” available on Amazon.

Here is Rick’s male perspective as our token male 😉 or as they say in Italian ‘beato fra le donne.’

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Georgette is an American social media strategist, copywriter, blogger and a certifiable ‘Tuscan Texan’ living and breathing all things Florence. Social inside and out, she lives in the moment and eats way too much pasta. She blogs about life in Italy, travel around Europe {and the world}.  Check out her blog, Girl in Florence.

Here are Georgette’s thoughts on this weeks topic: What’s it like being with an American.

 

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Gina is a 26 year old California native whose unhealthy love of cheese, wine and gossip has made her a perfect transplant to Italy. She blogs about life in Florence, tour guiding for college students abroad, traveling and her dog Gorgonzola. When she’s not busy writing down all the crazy stuff that happens to her, she’s listening to Snoop Dog and trying to figure out how to open an In-N-Out Burger in Italy. Here is her blog: The Florence Diaries. Here is her post.

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Rochelle Del Borrello is an Australian journalist by trade, something she has thankfully left behind to write, photograph and taste life in Sicily, an experience she shares on her blog Unwilling Expat. She is currently hating people’s obsession with the Selfie, Geordie Shore, the confusing world of Italian politics and liking Stromae, The Voice Italy, Springtime in Sicily and collaborating with other certifiable Expats in Italy.

 

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So what’s it like for a Sicilian to be married to a foreigner?

Living in the south of Italy is very much like living in a Middle Eastern country, Sicily isn’t the south of the Italian peninsula but rather a northern state of Africa. Sicilian’s are very traditional and proud of their culture. An islander is foremost a ‘Sicilian’ before they are an Italian. Until a few years ago someone catching the ferry across the strait at Messina to Calabria was greeted with ‘Welcome to Italy’ signage. That is why I have personalized the title of this collective post as marrying a Sicilian was so much more complicated than simply marrying an Italian, it was about being considered a foreigner by the wider community for many years.

There is a Sicilian saying which goes:

Moglie e buoi dei paesi tuoi

Literally ‘wives and cattle from your hometown.’ Now you might be going WTF does that mean? Which was exactly my reaction was when my husband uttered this pearl of Sicilian wisdom into my ear. (If you are involved with a Sicilian be prepared for endless bits of folk sayings to come your way, I suggest you do as I do, ignore them or use them as quaint decorations on ceramic tiles.)

So if the saying said to avoid foreigners in marriage unions, why in the hell did my husband marry me? His response is a laconic Sicilian ‘BOH!’ a guttural sound uttered by islanders which means they have no idea.

Something happened deep in the soul of this quiet sensitive typically Sicilian man to make him fall for this opinionated, free spirited and at times short tempered Australian girl. This ‘cow from the other side of the world.’

Choosing to marry me wasn’t the easiest thing for my man G. to do, his close knit family was convinced he’d move away to Australia and they would never see him again. But once they understood I wasn’t the wicked witch of the West and wanted to experience life in Sicily they gradually accepted me.

When we first moved back to Italy after being married in Australia we were the source of local gossip, many thought I wouldn’t last long in small town Sicily, but I’m still here! There’s no secret to it only perseverance and sacrifice.

 

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There are still many compromises and a tug of war still going on. G. puts up with my questioning, challenging and insisting. He has been dragged to the most isolated capital city in the world (Perth, Western Australia which is also my home town), five times over the past decade.

G’s tried and failed with English thanks to a frustrating hearing problem, which has turned me into a screecher over the years.

My Sicilian male is bemused by my need for constant dialogue and can’t understand the idea behind blogging (but I’m thinking this may be a general ‘male’ problem here – apologies to all the male bloggers out there!)

I harbor ambitions which my G. cannot understand, he sulks and says to himself, why aren’t I enough for my wife? You see I’m not your typical Sicilian spouse, who is usually your stay home type. I need to travel, buy books, take photos, connect to the internet, write, be creative and accomplish things. I’m a really ‘shitty’ housewife. I have turned whites into all the colours of the rainbow by forgetting socks in the wash, I can’t iron to save my life and my house is always dusty. Take me or leave me. It seems my husband can’t live without me, go figure!

Despite our differences G. is a steadfast Siculo male who is still in love with his wife, he is proud of how I have inserted myself into his home and holds me as tightly and passionately as ever in his life. G. frustratingly may not say much but subtly supports me and still tells me I’m ‘bellissima’ even if I’ve gained a few kilos over the years.

My Sicilian man reflects his island, he is deep, intense and spell bounding, lets hope the spell lasts forever.

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Map of Sicily taken from: The fashion blog Rum and Lace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “So you’re married to a foreigner … an Italian perspective

  1. Loved loved loved your post, my ex-boyfriends mom once told me that ‘perla’ as well “Moglie e buoi dei paesi tuoi” and I was super offended at the time even if it makes me laugh now. I think being in Sicily must be its own ball game so I give you props! Ps. My old roomate was from Perth, small world! She used to refer to it as the place that no one knows where the hell is ;-). So happy you joined the blogger fun with us!

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  2. Wow, that’s beautiful, Rochelle! I guess you read that my wife is from Sicily and I’ve certainly heard some of those colorful folk expressions that you mentioned! A wonderful post and it’s an honor to be in the group with you…ciao!

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  3. Rochelle, great post! I really enjoyed it! “Boh” is also my husband’s favorite answer to every question. His small town is obsessed with weird sayings as well. My favorite being his version of “can’t have your cake and eat it too,” which is, “you can’t have a full bottle of wine AND a drunk wife.” LOL.

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    1. Thanks! It’s great you liked it, I was a little worried it may have been a little negative and not funny, compared to the other in the group. But I think it’s great how we all have our own different styles! I find the whole ‘boh’ thing a little frustrating but now I find myself doing it too! I haven’t heard the saying about the drunk wife, but it sounds hilarious! Looking forward to the next topic …

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    1. Thanks for the comment and for following, looking forward to having more fun with my other blogging friends on similar topics for an expat perspective on Italy!

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