Monday, 4 November 2013
I mentioned in my last post I was struggling to find a rhythm to my days – to figure out what’s normal and regular to our routine here. I love order and plans, and this adjustment period goes against my nature. I’m learning to accept that we have to give ourselves room to figure things out and find a groove.
While we’re figuring things out for our own family, I’ve been observing the Italian routine. It’s very different from American days and it goes something like this:
Between 7:00 and 8:00 am the city is waking up and heading out. Our neighbors open their cerrandas (metal shades that cover the windows) and we hear the high school and university students making their way to class. Italians aren’t big breakfast eaters, so they grab a cappuccino and brioche on their way. The first church bells ring at 7:45 and by 8:00-8:30 it seems most people are settled for the morning.
Shops and businesses are open from about 9:00-12:30 or 1:00 and then they close for siesta. Some larger stores stay open, but most of the small shops close. On Mondays mornings many of the shops don’t open at all – it’s an extension of the weekend after being open Saturday, or a time to take inventory or do behind the scenes work.
Restaurants open for lunch at noon and some days Italians eat from 1:00-2:30. This is tricky for my family who’s starving at 11:30.
During siesta, which lasts from 1:00-4:00, the streets are pretty empty and it’s expected that you’re quiet. We had to be careful not to build furniture or drill during that time and our girls are learning to be quieter – seriously these girls and their constant talking/fighting which is echoed louder in an empty house with cement walls and hardwood floors.
By 4:00 lunch restaurants are closed and shops are opening up again. Students are getting out of school – except for the high school students who go to school 6 days a week from 8-1:30 – and the streets are filling up again. Kids play on playgrounds, people might do some shopping. I like this time in the afternoon – it’s when I prefer to do my shopping. Great people watching.
Dinner is late here. Our family typically ate at 6:00 and then we put our kids to bed between 7:30 and 8:00. Here, restaurants don’t open until 7:00 for dinner! Some of the bars do a “happy hour” for around 2 euro you can get a glass of wine and help yourself to antipasti (appetizers) starting at around 6:00. Around 7:30 the shops close up again and everyone starts heading out for dinner.
We’re starting to adjust our girls bedtime so we can be part of the Italian rhythm. So far my girls are exhausted by 8:00 and it’s rough. We’ll get there – maybe they’ll start taking naps again? I have to get used to later nights too. Especially now that the time changed and it’s dark by 6:00. My brain turns off when the sun goes down and I’m ready for bed around 9:00. Maybe I should start taking naps again too.
While I’d like to be able to eat or shop whenever I want, and not limited to the hours places are open, I can appreciate this more relaxed way of life. No need to work like crazy and stress yourself out – let’s enjoy time together, slow down and extend our meals. It’ll be an adjustment for me that’s for sure – I’m not good at relaxing. I feel like I must be productive at all times. It’ll be good for me to take more time for people and building relationships and less time frantically working and expecting more out of myself.