Living in the mountains made me more nervous of animals than people - For a time. That was nice, and how it should be.

A comprehensive, not exhaustive list.

I have developed a love of fizzy water! It’s normal in Italy whereas in the UK seen as special for some reason.

I drink more coffee than tea.

Italy is very much a cash society. You learn quickly to always have hard cash on you. Despite the UK embracing digital payment systems, there are times when you still need it – Think parking meters.

I talk about mountain weather casually. I have learnt that hailstone or ‘grandine’ can be lethal to cars and their bodywork especially

I always spoke with my hands, but even more now!

I don’t always use a towel after a shower but a robe.

I drink espresso macchiato and have learnt the types, real names and timings of coffee. Cappuccini are not meant to be had in the afternoon raga!

I drive much more assertively and use hand gestures when required.

I have become as inept as the Italians now when confronted with a roundabout, now that my brain has adapted to driving on the wrong side of the road.

I call croissants brioche.

I crave a nice plate of pasta al ragù now.
Nb. Spaghetti Bolognese doesn’t actually exist. The Mayor of Bologna Virginio Merola has actually started an awareness campaign to combat this fake news.

A lot of Italians eat meals with just a fork. Someone in Bolzano once laughed at me because I was eating canederli (dumplings aka knödel) with a knife and fork. My knife usage reduced.

I drizzle olive oil on everything savoury now. Try it!

I appreciate mealtimes: if it’s anywhere near noon you’re wished ‘buon pranzo’ even though you’re nowhere near food.

I enjoy la merenda… an afternoon snack at 16:00. Italian school children will have some fruit and a drink for example. Adults: coffee and maybe something sweet.

I understand food and wine more. e.g. grapes won’t be harvested in October if it’s dry weather… the alcohol percentage will be higher. Conversely, if it is rainy, the grapes are harvested earlier.

I appreciate sunsets more – seeing them disappear behind mountains at 16:00 isn’t as romantic as it seems.

I write the time in 24hrs.

I am willing to drive for ages to get anywhere and consider that ascents suck your fuel.

I have become more observant of my surroundings when in nature. i.e. I’m the one to notice a fresh rock-fall.

Living in the mountains made me more nervous of animals than people – For a time. That was nice, and how it should be.

Motorway tolls. I don’t miss them really. They are expensive and annoying.

I realise how EASY it is to be freelance in the UK and generally speaking, how helpful and friendly people in public offices are in comparison to those in Italy. Mi dispiace!

Hairpin roads are really fun to drive, when not in a rush.

2000m isn’t that high to me now. Any elevation gain I record in the UK feels like an abject failure.

New years eve is best spent in a rifugio. Punto e basta!

I miss Italy’s cheap train travel.

My affected accent, I pause for longer periods when speaking and have Italian speech sound effects now. That’s what dating a non-English speaking Italian for a few years will do to you. I started to forget English words.

Italians are generally morning people. They go out for their Caffè at 7am, eat brioche and read the newspapers. I don’t.

Italian lunchtimes are great, colleagues go out and eat together. None of this Al-desco nonsense. And la Pausa caffè of 15|20 minutes in an office is a group affair. Quite lovely really.

Not a habit but I perfected my expression and response in Italian when asked about Brexit.

Italians change their laws like I change my socks.

Il bidet. I miss it… I really do! It’s so much more hygienic and environmentally friendly (I am thinking toilet wipes)

I will never take meritocracy for granted ever again in the UK. In Italy, if you don’t have an in then it’s super hard to get a start anywhere. I was also asked in one Italian job interview – by a guy the same age as me whether I wanted children… this discrimination is unlawful in the UK.
So, all said and done… I am actually super proud of what I achieved.

Italian supermarkets do sell fresh milk, complete with pictures of milk maidens etc…but UHT is the norm and happens to you, and I swore it wouldn’t. Although now back in the UK I am on Oat Milk. The Italians have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to alternative foods.

I am inspired to volunteer more. Volunteering in Italy is a huge part of the culture and way of life. Firemen and women for example and the alpini: per gli alpini non esiste l’impossibile

I miss traditional Italian festivities for food, wine, and generally great times. I miss Il Primo Mangio Festival (Cavedine, 01|05|annually) and also the Stravinario, a summer festival held in a tiny village (the first proper one I lived in actually). The name stravino means too much wine. Stra | Vino… like Stracotto means overcooked.

I have realised that mountains make me feel free and amazing… but can also make one feel trapped. I have also realised that living in an extremely beautiful place is not enough to make you happy.
Probably my most profound learning.

Crepuscular rays + mountains make me feel something indescribable.

I have been spoilt by four actual seasons (not the pizza). Now back in the UK I am still dressing in super bright, European outdoor gear… Here, outdoor clothing comes in Grey, Black, Turquoise, and Pink... maybe plum – if you are lucky! I also haven’t quite got the hang of checking the weather all the time or leaving gaitors in my backpack just in case I end up in a moorland bog. Yes – that’s happened and my boots were ‘over-topped’.

Skiing – Oh how I miss it! Learning as an adult has resulted in more than just a bruised ego! However, I have totally fallen in love with Ski-touring and will definitely do a long trip on skis in the future.

Motorway tailgating followed by a flash of lights that say let me through is normal behaviour for me now. I don’t tailgate, but I would definitely flash someone infront.

Speaking of flashing: I am okay being naked in public… Saunas and Aufguss – a sauna ritual with music and artful towel wafting – nothing better when it is cold outside. Better yet, get outside naked in the snow.

I have realised how spoilt I have been by British TV: the Italian offering, by comparison, is rather dire, and at times sexist.

Italians are resistant to change, which is why Italy remains Italy and why people love to bask in its sunshine and tradition. There is generally a lack of multiculturalism and open-mindedness.

Italian is a beautiful language and one of the most studied in the world – but get a group of Italians together and you might wish you didn’t understand all the complaining.

Lack of broadband in rural areas means I don’t take speedy internet for granted. Italian internet lag behind the times – Che palle!

I miss the Italian healthcare system. It is much better than the UK – Sorry but it’s true.

I miss everything being written in two languages IT / DE (In Trentino/Alto-Adige – Sud Tirol) I also miss the sense of history there and the feeling of connectedness to the rest of Europe.

Driving through reaaaally long tunnels is normal for me now. As is overtaking on narrow mountain roads that make you take a deep breath beforehand.

Small family-run businesses constitute around 70% of all Italian employment. So popping to your local greengrocers in Bolzano for some apples became a charming timewarp. Speaking of apples… Italy is the world’s sixth largest producer, and Europe’s second, with 2.2 million tons of apples. Golden Delicious is the second cultivated apple variety globally and the first in Trentino where around ten thousand hectares are dedicated to apple production.

Despite witnessing it a lot in Italy, terrible, inconsiderate parking over multiple bays is not a behavior I have adopted.

I have developed the habit to check out number plates, which country they are from, and judge their driving accordingly.

Speeding. I tend to speed now on the auto-strada | motorway.

Living in Italy has made me realise that drivers and cyclists CAN actually peacefully coexist. Italians generally drive in a respectful way toward cyclists. At least they did in Trentino|Alto-Adige…I have heard very different things about Roma!