As a foreigner in a new land, the more years pass, the more you understand the cultural context in which you are living. While integration comes in varying forms and can be entirely relative, at the end of the day, you cannot escape no matter how hard you try.
Established by two non-Italians living in Italy, Bad Accents founders seem like a fitting testimonial. The point in which we met, Domus Academy, was the perfect starting point; a Design school in one of the world’s most prominent design hubs with an international fellowship. The Master courses held in English facilitated the learning experience and interaction within its community. Its Milan location, on the other hand, opened the door to an Italian way of living, seeing, and ultimately thinking.
So how does the integration process happen? Well, one of the first novelties that you undergo is a change in the way you go about your daily routine. You recognise that in the morning, you are, unconsciously, devoting time for your local bar to have that perfect cup of coffee and brioche. Fast forward couple of months and a bicycle starts to become the apparent mean for transportation, and whether you like it or not, you have your lunch between 13:00 and 14:00 (you also start to write the time in 24 hours and abandon AM/PM). You are now even taking for granted that mostly everything closes around 18:00 and that if you had the naive thought of shopping on a Monday morning that you will go back home empty-handed.
But these are the early signs that you usually mark in the first half of the year in which you chose Milan as your new home. What happens next is something much more profound. A sense of cynicism starts to creep into your reasoning. It becomes effortless to focus on what is not going well. Soon after your idea of an average salary, career path, English as a sufficient language, and pasta as a monthly treat are all concepts that you refer to as: once upon a time I believed that…
And you cannot wait for that opportunity to show off that Domenico Modugno song Volare is actually titled nel blu dipinto di blu!
Add a couple of years to that, and you start grasping and getting personal jokes related to regions, politics, bureaucracy, and social groups. For example, you are now excited about being able to put people in a box, Che meraviglia! You are even more astonished of how you lost the ability to speak to your mother without using fillers such as Allora(so), Va bene (ok), boh or mah (both expressing a feeling of doubt/indifference: who knows, whatever or I don’t know).
Addio Fantozzi, l’italiano medio Ribichini , Paolo. “Addio Fantozzi, l’Italiano Medio.” Diritto Di Critica, 3 July 2017
The succeeding layer of belonging is when you are now a master of guessing the New Year playlist, and you can even sing along. You are also as excited as the next Italian when your tune is playing. You are the champion of ordering at restaurants, and you only eat specific things in specific cities (after all what kind of a beginner would eat Arrosticini outside the confines of Abruzzo?). When on a whim, the thought of going to Genova for a day just to have the perfect focaccia does not seem a farfetched idea. And your summer holiday, you ask? It casually stretches through August, and you have dedicated by default at least one week on the seaside.
But now to the real stuff. You have studied the Italian culture, and if you are lucky, you fell in love with an Italian making the concept of what it means to be Italian becoming part of your new hybrid identity. You ask yourself, apart from the surface, what do I really know about Italy? What constitute the Italian experience? And why?
In the case of Bad Accents, the majority of our community are foreigners driven by their love to Italian Design and the notion of Italy. They moved here, just like us, to invest in an education that would allow them, at the very least, a year of design thinking and Italian living. More often than not, however, they go back home as the new ambassador for a country that they cherished way more than initially anticipated. Because what makes Italy one of the most beloved countries in the world is, in fact, a reality with so many different layers of meanings. It is true that the country is blessed with marvellous nature and history. It is needless however and quite frankly banal to lecture anyone about these two aspects of Italy. What genuinely blows your mind, though, after savouring the Italian experience, is often related to what post-war Italians made out of this precious inheritance.
Source: Ettore Sottsass 1969, Wikimedia.org
Source: Gio Ponti - Icon magazine: Architecture and design culture
Once you decide to unzip Italian culture, you recognise an unbounded list of schools of thoughts, cultural institutions and phenomena, designers, filmmakers, visual artists, food, drinks, dialects, literature, musicians, performing artists, societal intricacies, and sports to cover. A spider web that merits recognition individually and collectively as a thread of the Italian fabric.
Italian Culture Unzipped is Bad Accents tribute to the love, beauty and authenticity that Italy showers us with on a daily basis. It is also our way of diving into contemporary Italian culture and sharing it with our community of Italy’s lovers all over the world. As stated earlier, the themes that we will cover are quite broad in range so that we try and include all touchpoints of life and culture in postwar Italy. We will try to make shorter entries of factual information while highlighting the cultural relevance of each topic. The articles will also have suggested resources for further reading in case the reader wishes to pursue more.
Source: FashionModelDirectory.com, The FMD -. “Romeo Gigli - Fashion Designer| The FMD.”
Thank You For The (Wearable) Pop Art Fun, Elio Fiorucci (1935-2015).irenebrination.typepad.com
Fondazione Roberto Capucci_Biografia, www.fondazionerobertocapucci.com
Finally, we are hoping, in the spirit of raw enthusiasm, that our existing Italian community would enrich, correct, and add to our articles whenever necessary, and for our international community to tell us if there are specific topics they would like us to cover. In the end, we wish you, as always, a happy reading and that you are as excited about this as we are.
Italia, ti vogliamo un mondo di bene##
fin. . .