If you stay in Italy for a substantial period of time, you start to notice that there are certain characters that keep popping up all over the place. Here is a rundown of some of the most amusing stereotypes that you can run into.
1) Stefano the Sleaze
Easy to spot, lurking in the cities most popular courting grounds, the common sleaze has a very unimaginative mating ritual. Often seen simply grunting towards the female specimen and in some cases even attempting to mount them directly on the dance floor. Beware of Stefano if you are not a fan of awful chat up lines (“If the night makes you thirsty, you can drink from my tap”), unwarranted grinding on the dance floor, and a borderline terrifying level of misogyny
2) Nora the Nonna
Do not be fooled by the seemingly innocent appearance of the Italian Grandma, A.K.A. the Nonna. Although averaging a height of 4 foot 5 inches, Nora is an extremely defensive creature that packs a bad attitude topped off with an intense glare to ward off potential predators and nuisances. When Nora was an infant, she was taught to respect her elders, this is a message that has stuck with her and now that she is of age, she aims to take advantage of it as much as possible. This means she gets to cut in front of you in any line, she can walk as slow as she wants in the middle of the road and then be mad at you for overtaking her, and she can basically do whatever she wants without fear of consequences… because what is anyone going to do to a cute lil’ old Nonna anyway?
3) Amy the American
After sundown, and a few hours drinking at the local watering hole, Amy can be found hanging out with Stefano the Sleaze. Stefano is inherently drawn towards Amy for a number of reasons. The scent of Amy’s high blood alcohol content travels through the air to initially attract the sleaze, who then identifies his target through her characteristic lack of clothing and high heels. If conditions prove to be too dark to visually identify Amy, her mating call can often be heard from anywhere within a 1,000-metre radius. High-pitched screeches such as “Ohhh my God!” and “No way!” radiate through the city walls and inform potential suitors that Amy is an American on her Year Abroad, is on a lethal amount of Chianti, and hence is ready to take an Italian home, or at least anyone who looks like they could be Italian. In comes Stefano.
4) Erica on Erasmus
After migrating to Italy to “study,” Erica masks her blatant debauchery and new found hedonism with a mask of cultural discovery. This translates to a Facebook filled with pictures of her travels that are soaked in an unhealthy amount of hash tags. What her mother doesn’t see in the Facebook snaps, though, are the bottles of Jaegermeister and Peronis that are just outside the frame. Yes, culture for Erica is getting sh*t-faced in as many new places as possible. “Dio Mio! Look how beautiful this view is! Now let’s do shots!”
5) Romeo the Rose Guy
Romeo likes to play cupid. In fact it seems you are only safe from the embarrassment when you are on your own. If you are sat down somewhere with a companion, whether it be your friend, sister or mother, be prepared for Romeo’s eyes to awkwardly insinuate you are banging and then make you feel bad for not buying them a rose. If you happen to actually be on a date, then you are still faced with the dilemma of buying a rose and looking like a cheese ball, or declining it and seeming heartless. So thanks Romeo, for making it awkward every time I leave my house. I forgive you because you are usually polite and cheerful, even though you do tend to be persistent with the flower selling. I didn’t want one the first time you thrust them in my face, so I think I will pass on the tenth time too. Try asking me when I’m drunk and I might decide I need to put one in my hair.
6) Umberto the Umbrella Man
So it’s a sunny day with clear skies, when all of a sudden a sneaky cloud flies in from nowhere. Before the first drop of rain even hits the ground, one can here the unmistakable call of Umberto as he seemingly emerges from thin air: “Ombrello!? Ombrello!?” Studied by academics for years now, we are still unsure of how the Umbrello Man manages to sense the rain coming and stock himself up with umbrellas so quickly. We have managed to analyse the umbrellas themselves and have found that they are made from a paper-like material and are built to break whenever you actually need them. I suppose you can’t argue for €2 though. When the rain isn’t around, Umberto can be found with an array of trinkets for sale that you will never need. Toy monkeys? Glitter hats? Toilet shaped lighters? Mega phones? Yes Umberto, that is just what I need whilst I am sipping on my coffee in the middle of the day. However, it should be noted that behind the mystery of the Umbrello Man, one can always find a big smile and some friendly catch phrases shooting out his mouth: “Tutto a posto?” “No woman, no cry.” So, if you are in need of glow-in-the-dark pig key ring or just some friendly chitchat, look out for Umberto.
7) Carl and Carla: The Couple
Awww it’s their first romantic holiday and they chose Italy, how original. You can see Carl and Carla slowly walking around the city, stopping every 5 minutes to make out because they saw something so pretty they just had to commemorate it by closing their eyes and puckering up for a wet one. In fact, studies have shown that Carl and Carla spend more time looking at each other’s faces than they do at the city. Passersby may be asked to stop and take a picture of the lovely couple together, and in these instances there is no escape from witnessing the ridiculously corny poses that are to come. Scientists advise using couple-repellent when in Italy, such as wearing “homewrecker” T-shirts or just putting on your best pair of sleazy eyes.
8) Tina the Tourist
Tina moves as part of a larger herd of tourists. These herds are notoriously slow walkers and it has been recorded that it can take them decades to do something as simple as cross a road. This is fantastic when you have somewhere to be and they block your way. It is very similar to being stuck on a mountain road because an endless line of sheep is crossing in front of you, except these sheep should know better. Tina is equipped with an SLR camera and will stop in her tracks without any given warning if she finds “the perfect shot” or even just to take a selfie, because the Duomo has never looked better than when it was blocked out by her pasty face.
9) Claudio the Crappy Customer Service Guy
If you run into any problems, whether it is with your phone provider, food order or ticket booking, you may have to speak to Claudio. The problem is that Claudio does not want to make his life any harder. When trying to get his attention, be warned that you may be met with some sort of “talk to the hand” gesture as he finishes his cigarette and screams at his football team on the TV (no he’s not on break, he’s just a dick). Once you have engaged the creature, take note that if your issue goes any further than a simple conversation, you may have a cranky little Claudio to deal with. Expect dialogue to quickly escalate into Italian profanities as he blames you for doing something completely innocent, “Why would you even use your phone at night anyway?!”. You can try and ask for his supervisor, but chances are he will pretend that he is the top dog or even pretend that he doesn’t speak English anymore. Fortunately, there is a really simple and easy way to get around this type of customer service in Italy, just constantly call the company day and night for 6 months straight and repeat your demands endlessly and maybe, just maybe, you will get that long awaited Christmas parcel from December 2004.
10) Lucia the Landlady
Some bridges have trolls living underneath them. Most apartments in Italy have Lucia living above them, and it’s very much the same thing. Although, if you are lucky, this troll may come with some perks such as it making you some home-cooked Italian grub. The downside is that, although you have legally rented the place off of her, Lucia wants you to live by her rules. So this means you are going to get an earful every time: you stumble in late; have visitors of the opposite sex stay over; she sees the place isn’t immaculate; there is a worrying amount of empty beer bottles in the bin; you aren’t eating properly; and well, pretty much every time you do anything fun. Now, don’t worry, there are ways to deal with this situation. Firstly, you can learn how to creep around the house like a little ninja and go undetected. Secondly, you can become like her sweet little grandchild by complimenting her cooking, throwing her innocent smiles and always agreeing on the advice she gives you (but you don’t have to follow it). At the end of the day, Lucia the Landlady is really just Nora the Nonni with a little more power over you. So I would not suggest getting on her bad side as then you will be dealing with a full blown troll situation… and she may stop cooking for you as well (God forbid).