Here was Michael's impression on our arrival:
April 28, 2012 – Arrival in Italy After a smooth 8 hour flight we landed safely in Rome’s Fumicino airport. A curious thing I want to point out is that when we left New York nearly everyone was speaking English (even an intimidated couple trying to explain to a woman that she was in their seat). But something happened over the Atlantic because as we came in sight of Rome, all of a sudden the only voices we heard were speaking exuberantly in Italian – even the flight attendants!
Whenever I travel nowadays I’m worried that with the world shrinking the differences between cultures will evaporate so that America and Europe will not be much different than Ohio is from New Jersey. But the minute we set foot on Italian ceramic tiles in the airport, my concern was put to rest. There are tenacious aspects of our cultures that, at least for now, are still worlds apart. Here are 3 that I noticed immediately:
1. Tailoring – Italians wear clothes that fit their bodies, from the flight attendants on Alitalia to the uniformed guards patrolling customs to the men in suits waving placards for their passengers
2. Shoulders – in Italy shoulders are a form of speech. The closer towards the ears they rise the more emphatic their point. The couple ahead of us at passport control could have been bouncing a volley ball between them their shoulders were so animated
3. Compliance – as we exited baggage claim all the Americans proceeded in an orderly fashion down the lane that was marked “Exit to Customs”. The Italians, however, already in their sunglasses and hauling their designer luggage behind them, crowded en masse down the lane that was clearly marked EXIT: ABSOLUTELY NO ENTRY! And not one of those customs officials said a word.
Ah, we are in Italy!