Ciao readers! As I write this, I feel a little unsure about what country I am actually sitting and typing in, as I am completely surrounded by Italians (which leads me to wonder, is there a collective noun for a group of Italians?). Wherever I go this month, this is the case – on the beaches, in bars, restaurants, in clubs and even while shopping. I am hearing a steady stream of ‘come stai, mol to bello, ciao regazzi, scuza and prego’ (of course these are the only words I recognise) and there’s been a definite rise in the amount of designer sunglasses and designer stubble – not to mention scooters – on the streets. No, I haven’t been teleported to Italy in my sleep. It’s merely August, when the entire Italian population (seemingly) decamp to Ibiza for their summer vacation period, also known as Ferragosto.
Having such a high concentration of Italians in one place guarantees a lot of pizza and pasta restaurants popping up in Ibiza, and there are also quite a few high end trattorias, osterias and chi-chi fine dining restaurants serving up food even finer than Mamma or Nonna used to make (though ask their authentic Italian guests and they’ll loyally swear Nonna’s is better – such is the Italian way), which is great for me, since my favourite type of cuisine ever is… you guessed it, Italiano. Mmmmm, lasagne, risotto, spaghetti, rigatoni, linguine, paccheri… these words are like music to my ears, and the flavours are like heaven on a plate. But I digress (and now I’m hungry). It also guarantees a huge influx of beautiful, teensy tiny tanned Italian girls in itsy bitsy bikinis – making people like me feel like beached white whales next to them on the beach – and by their side, crews of handsome chiselled, Speedo-wearing men (just think Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue advertising campaigns).
Italians seem to stick together (there’s that loyalty again), even on holiday, which is why you’ll always spy them in big family-sized groups – whether its commandeering a row of sun loungers on Playa d’en Bossa or taking up half the dance floor at DC10. Speaking of clubs, you’ll notice this month’s clubbing line-ups being peppered with more classic Italian names than the other months of the year (to satisfy those loyal fans who want to stick to their own) – think a roll call like Claudio Coccoluto, DJ Ralf, Benny Benassi, Tommy Vee et al. In Formentera, it’s little the Balearics own ‘Little Italy.’ So big are the Italian communities there – expat, not just the Ferragosto crew – that in some parts of the island, the restaurant menus are written in Italian before Spanish, and I’ve even had the experience of being served by a waitress who spoke Italian and English, but not Español! Again – the food was totally out of this world.
Another thing I’ve noticed, is Italians are loud (and proud!). Before one person has finished talking, the next in the group raises their voice and begins to speak, and so on and so forth, until the decibel level almost requires earplugs. But they’re not being rude. This is just the way it is. And of course, they are also well-known for talking with their hands, which makes for groups of wildly waving arms and voices raised to shouting levels – but for all you know, they’re probably just talking about the weather. Italians are also big fans of PDAs (public displays of affection, in case you didn’t know), and it just warms my heart every time I see guys kissing hello without any hesitation! And their style! I think Italians are quite literally born with it. It’s not something you can learn, or that money can buy.
Believe me – if I could squeeze myself into a tiny black slip dress, cover my arms with elegant tattoos and sport winged eyeliner and red lipstick together the way these stunning girls do… well, my life could almost be complete. Though in my case, squeezing into said slip dress would probably mean having to give up pasta and risotto forever… and I’m not sure I could ever commit to that. There is indeed a saying, ‘Italians do it better’ and I have to agree when it comes to food and fashion, no doubt about it (as for all those other rumours, well, I can’t say I’ve ever had the err, pleasure of experiencing). Ti amo, mis amigos Italianos – you make our island a much prettier, more stylish and delicious place – albeit a little noisy and overcrowded in August! But perhaps the real question we should be asking here is – if the who’s who of Italians are all here in Ibiza and Formentera, who’s watching Italy?