Vespa scooters. Flowing scarves. Men wearing scarves. Men wearing capris. Gorgeous tans. Shouting. Hand gestures. Pasta! This is Italy. It IS cool. The people here say and do cool things. You are correct to feel this way. Here are some of the cool things I've seen.
What a Shot! - You'll hear Italians at a bar order "un cafe." They will not receive a 12-ounce cup of coffee. The barista will hand them an itty-bitty cup with an espresso shot that doesn't even reach the top of the itty-bitty cup. Americans would be outraged! "Where's my freegin' coffee?" But, whoa! Have one of these first thing in the morning and you'll see why they're such the national habit. My whole brain exploded open with happy feelings and positive thoughts about myself and the world. I felt like an emotional superhero. Anything was possible! No wonder they don't dilute these small, magical shots with water or milk, usually. It's like drinking a bullet. Whoosh!
Jewelry for the Youth - Teenage Italian boys and their jewelry - it's a love affair. Big diamond studs in both ears, gold hoop earrings, large gold chain necklaces, gold chain bracelets, rings; you name it, they're wearing it. I don't see it quite as much with older men here. They seem to grow out of the phase and whittle down to a favorite saint medallion on a chain. But, bejeweled is a very pronounced style for guys aged 15 - 24 or so. I dig it. It looks so...Italian.
Eminem - Okay, okay, so I've never heard so much Eminen in my life as I have in Italy. To be fair, I'm hearing this music a lot at the weight room. (La palestra! I love it.) But there is something about the angsty, driving, pissed-off energy of Eminem that suits young muscle builders of all nations. I noticed this pattern also in Bulgaria. Many people just LOVE Eminem. Right next to him on the most-heard list would be Bulldog, but he's a known master of "International Love." I think we love and mock Eminem in the U.S. Here, it's just love. Oh, and Macklemore came through the gym speakers, which made me burst with Seattle pride.
America Rocks! - I was humbled to the point of tears (maybe some travel exhaustion, and heat-and-foreign-language exhaustion mixed in) at an event in Milan that was sort of an American music singalong and dance night. For more than three hours, about two hundred and fifty Italians sang every dang word to countless American pop songs. Holy moly! If you are making music in the U.S. and it's on the radio, you are filling the world, not just the U.S., with your music. Honestly, it made it feel like a true responsibility. You can impact millions. Why not write something inspiring?
In the end, though, it's all about music that makes people want to move, release energy, yell, and be happy. We make a lot of that music. "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" is a major winner, too. Ask the four hundred, mostly-white Brits I saw moshing and screaming at a festival recently about spending most their lives "living in a Gangsta Paradise." American music is everywhere and a lot of people love it and have it memorized.
Different Tan - How do I explain the gorgeousness of the tans some Italians cook themselves into? It's an area of devotion. The tan is begun with great care at the beginning of the season. One does not want to burn. But, once it's begun, it is darkened with a passion and focus one can only admire. And, wow, the warm, brown, golden tones, nearing very deep brown, that some Italians create is utterly beautiful. I know there are mix of genetics going on and not everyone is the same so I'm thinking there is a magical quality in the sunlight. I, too, am more wonderfully tan than normal. Whatever it is, it's sexy and beautiful.
Minimal Working Out - Americans seem obsessed with working out compared to people in other parts of the world. I've noticed this in pretty much every country I've visited. We go to the gym or run or do Zumba or yoga or HIIT workouts a lot more than other nations. We KNOW about this stuff. My Italian friend hadn't even heard of the Keto diet and I wasn't surprised. No pasta? Basta! While being lean and buff makes sense to Italians, especially young guys, it's more cool to hang out in the piazza and be chill and kind.