Cone or a Cup?

Matt in front of Perugia’s central Post Office.

It’s been a week.  We are just beginning to navigate the nuances of cultural idiosyncrasies.  Just beginning.  Today we needed to get our Permesso di Soggiorno (another ridiculous document that allows us to stay in Italy for the year – as if the visa wasn’t hard enough).  So Matt stepped up to the challenge and talked his way through several obstacles at the post office.  This led us to three additional government buildings, at which point we were instructed to return tomorrow.  (That sounds familiar.)

By then it was time for ice cream.  With Umbria Jazz over, the line for gelato was less than five minutes.  And the boys are finally getting the hang of how to make an order.  Here’s how it goes: They begin by specifying a cono or a coppetta depending on whether they want it in a cone or a cup.  Then they select the size.  Italians don’t say, “one scoop or two,” (because the ice cream is transferred via a spatula).  So instead, they say, “piccolo , media or grande”.  After that, they chose the flavor.  If they can’t decide between amaretto and peach, for instance, they have them both.  Finally, the server may ask if they want panna.  That’s Italian for whip cream.

The last topic is bread.  This would be insignificant except for the fact that our fridge is still broken and we’re still eating out every night.  And since Italians don’t eat dinner till 8pm, and since we’re still acclimating, we sit down starving.  Luckily, the waiter soon brings bread.  However, it’s dry and tasteless . . . confusing . . . because everything else tastes good in Italy.  The answer for this travesty:  The Pope.   Here’s the proud story we’ve heard repeated over and over.  Hundreds of years ago, the Pope put a huge tax on the Perugians’ salt.  They rebelled and didn’t buy his damn salt.  The boycott worked, and to honor their victory, Perugians have never added salt to their bread since.  Hilarious.  In your face, Pope.

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