Posted on September 3, 2020
First Encounters with Italian Culture
We landed in Italy two months ago and our arrival did not only mean the beginning of our cooperation with Project M.A.R.E., but also our involvement in Italian Culture. For some of us this encounter is brand new, for others it is not the first time being in the mainstream of local traditions and everyday life. By dedicating the month of August to Italian culture, we could get a deep insight into traditions, gastronomy and art with the help of natives. Here, you can read about our first impressions and experiences.
It might sound like a cliché, but food looks like it is really important in the Italian culture. It is through food that people share love, care, happiness and hardships. It is kind of the center of all events. That makes it more than just a survival need. You can clearly understand someone’s mood or character through their response to being offered food. More so with their way of offering it. Some people might look so rigid and unapproachable but at the same time, their sense of hospitality is somehow stronger than any other prejudice. Anywhere you go you are welcomed and greeted with food. That shows how Italians share and serve joy and love in plates of pastas and pizzas and olive oil and all those beautiful mouth-watering dishes.
It has been almost two months since my arrival in Italy and the truth is that I can only say good things about this wonderful experience. I have to admit that, in general, the Italian culture was not unknown to me and therefore the adaptation to the daily life has not been a great shock to me. In the instrumentalism in which I live, however the proximity to the sea and to nature, that this project is providing me, is worth mentioning. The contact with all this nature has been the best experience (apart from the people I have met) since my arrival two months ago.
I am happy!! As simple as that… This experience is the best that could have happened to me after the quarantine!! If I talk about the work, we volunteers are doing, in such an incredible place as Ieranto Bay… I mean… Protecting it the way we do makes me feel hopeful, since it can be reproduced all over the world… If we create an emotional bond with nature and understand its significance, we will wish to protect it with all our strength!! That is why it is so important to spread awareness!! Though it is interesting to verify that even in an informed society, there is still a lot of work to do. Let’s continue working on it then!! For a week, I am being a volunteer helping to monitor nests of turtles in Cilento and I can tell that is a fascinating process… But still, I can’t avoid feeling this pinch in my heart every time we release such small creatures in the sea…I wish them all the luck!!
Overall, my experience in Italy has been a learning process in all its dimensions and I am grateful for the opportunity!! I am finding such breath-taking places… Good food, really nice people, great conversations, with a great sense of humour. Yes, I start to understand the local jokes!! Haha! It has been without doubts an unforgettable month in my life!!
Immersing myself into Italian culture was a new and exciting experience. Meeting local people, learning Italian language and traditions are incomparable with anything I knew about this country before coming to it. My favourite part of Italian culture month was cooking together traditional Italian dishes and going out on the walks in beautiful mountains to observe falling stars and share delicious food in the wonderful atmosphere. Climate, sea, good food and great company, there is nothing else I could wish for! Thank you for having me here!
Italy is such a beautiful, vibrant and dreamy country and I am beyond happy to be able to fulfill a long-held childhood dream of living here. Experiencing its culture has been an amazing journey, mainly because it is much different than what I’ve used to at home in Latvia. Italians are very friendly, expressive, easy going and family oriented. Personal relationships play a HUGE role in their culture. Their love for food is incredible, and it is more than just pizza or pasta – Italian cuisine is a celebration of flavors, history and life.
Ever since the first day I arrived in Italy, I have been feeling creatively charged. I often find myself wanting to take my sketchbook and just go out to draw or paint. To me, the fact that many important Italian artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, lived and worked here is simply mind-blowing.
There are so many mountaintops I want to reach and scenic streets I want to explore for hours. I want to get lost on Italy’s sun-kissed Mediterranean Coast, which is a home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and immerse myself in nature. I know there are a lot of stories out there waiting for me to live them, and I couldn’t be more excited.
As I live in Croatia, Italy’s sea neighbour, Italian Culture has always been interesting and close to me. Project M.A.R.E. gave me the opportunity to discover it more thoroughly. When it comes to music, there is no day without hearing a couple of songs of Lucio Battisti, or a week without seeing a new but old, Italian movie. Enjoying our terrace, all together, we have watched Mediterraneo, a film that gives you a taste of Italian humour, which you can experience in everyday life if you try to get involved into “chiacchiere” (a chat) with locals. During our 2 months here, I have tried and enjoyed Italian cuisine a lot. Parmigiana made with eggplants, tomato sauce and mozzarella di buffalo is my all-time favourite! Seven months to go and still so much left to discover. Colder months, I have saved for discovering museums and other historical places!
Since, I am from Hungary, moving to Massa Lubrense meant a huge change in my lifestyle. I appreciate the chance to be close to the sea every day and I am happy to be able to explore Italy and its culture by both sea and land. Watching stars at night, sleeping on the terrace, looking at the boats in the port while having breakfast and observing the sunsets at the end of the day became part of my daily life. Working in Ieranto bay is like magic. I am closer to nature than ever before and I really feel what we do is useful. This experience creates a new universe for me, exploring species I have never seen before and getting to know more about the beauties of the world, while working in the field of sustainability. It is the best possible combination. What else can be added? Nice people and gastronomy, of course! Italian cultural nights helped me submerge in local culture and cooking traditional food together was so much fun!
I always loved nature, especially the sea… that is why I wanted to be part of project M.A.R.E., so I can connect more with nature and sea. First, when I came to Italy, I found myself surrounded by nature and that was helpful to rebuild the relationship with it once again, because the city lifestyle is very different…. Project M.A.R.E. gives you the chance to discover the deepest secrets of the sea, the species and so many other things about the sea… It also gives you the chance to discover the Italian culture starting with the food, continuing through the Italian literature to the art, which is my favourite. In my very first month, I have learned something really cool from our mentor “Gianna”, which is, enjoy doing nothing called “dolce far niente”… this was just a small insight into the “PROJECT M.AR.E.”…