I am angry with the fact that my town can only demonstrate an ugly uncultured image to our Italian visitor, I am angry that this image should camouflage the depth in culture and the individuals, groups and various organisations that work, play and display their various art forms around the town.
But our Italian visitor is not wrong about the culture of aggression that has infested the town, however they are wrong to dismiss the lack of culture and it is a sad situation that results in this ugly side of the town distracting from the wonderful events and the vibrant theatre, art and music scene.
On the subject of bakers not being open at 6am. This occurs because in this country the majority start work just slightly later than in Italy and work through to tea time whereas in Italy everything, in my extensive visits, tends to start early then shut down at lunchtime for half the day where a good meal is taken (whilst we snack), they then open up again late in the afternoon. There is nothing wrong with either lifestyle it’s just different cultures.
Coffee shop culture has only hit our little town in recent years, give us a chance we are still looking out for the six monthly arrival of the clipper ship with our beloved tea!
Our culture is to breakfast at home (I know not always the case) then go straight to work, snack at lunchtime and have a main meal later.
In our experience of many years of exchanges and holidays, the Italian young people loved and embraced the freedom of our teenagers, however ours loved the Italian family atmosphere and cross generational laughter. One young Italian with us was passed the gravy and promptly filled his wine glass. It’s just culture difference, we love our own culture wether it be British or Italian or wherever, but the key is to accept in a non-judgemental way other ways of life that don’t harm or insult.
I don’t totally dismiss our Italian visitor’s view, they have raised good and relevant points of fact, we do have obvious problems like everywhere else, however we are Britain, a different culture in respect of the working day and how we structure our life and culture itself and the cross-section of cultures and peoples we embrace into our society.
Italy in the modern era is a country that is very insular and not very open to other cultures and has struggled with this throughout the past century experiencing a pantomime of political culture and violence.
Milan itself witnesses very ugly scenes before, during and post its football clashes, however it has many qualities. For me though, and indeed our various Italian friends, Milan, next to many of Italy’s other wonderful cities and towns, is not the most beautiful but does have in common with the rest of that superb country is excellent coffee houses. It’s a shame that we found the people quite aloof, that is probably unless you are a banker or a fashion mogul.
I do hope our Italian visitor finds the summer return more to their liking or maybe they should decamp to one of our major inner cities for a coffee.
Paul C Bang