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Italian Culture: The Evening Out

In what now seems like the distant past, I went out. At the end of a hard, or even an easy day here, I could be found knocking back a few exotic looking cocktails, with equally exotic looking names. Now, these evening meetings were often organised quite simply: you either saw or called somebody during the day and either they or you suggested going out at some time, that evening or some other evening. Then you just suggested a time and a place and that was that. All rather easy and a trusted system very similar to that I had always employed to good effect in the UK.

In Italy, things are, as you may expect by now, done differently. We are, as you will know, in the age of the mobile phone. We can send people pictures, text messages (SMSs here), email them, or even simply call them. Italians are big into mobile phones and they are used extensively for social purposes, so when they want to arrange a night out with their friends, they call and arrange to meet them somewhere. What is strange in that? You may well ask. Nothing really, except that the meeting place is usually a car park, in front of some shop or other, or on a street corner. They never ever seem to do the logical thing of going to the pub directly.

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It, however, becomes a little weirder, once they all turn up at the chosen meeting spot, reasonably promptly in Italian terms, they then spend up to two hours deciding where to go, well not only deciding, debating, with all sorts of reasons being given as to why this place is OK, but that place isn’t. I remember attending a few of these debates, watching and listening, and feeling rather bemused. Eventually, agreement over the night’s destination will be reached and everyone jumps in their cars, (all of them come in separate cars) and off they go to the acceptable spot.

It turns out that the initial meeting points have been used ever since the people meeting up there were first old enough to go out. This means that these mini-debates have been going on for years. Why they can’t pop on down to a previously agreed local and carry out the whole discussion process there, over a drink, is absolutely beyond me.

Italians do seem to be complicated by nature. Don’t know why exactly. Could it be the climate, the water, or the food?

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