Things I Learned In: Piacenza, Italy

Today marks a week since I’ve gotten to Piacenza, Italy, and I’ve definitely learned a lot so far!  Read on to find out my hard-earned wisdom.


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Since arriving in Piacenza on August 26th, I’ve since started my Italian language course and had a chance to explore the city a little bit so far.

First of all, a little geography lesson: Piacenza is both a city (and comune) in Emilia-Romagna, which is a region in northern Italy. It has a population of about 100,000 and has two universities (one of which I now go to!)

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Piacenza is pretty close to Milan and you can reach there by train in about 55 minutes.  This is great – especially when you love shopping.  And I love shopping.

Now, on with what I learned so far!

1. Tobacco Shops = Everything

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A tobacco shop, called a “tabaccheria” in Italy, seems like the promised land when it comes to buying things here.  Need a bus ticket? Go to the tabaccheria.  Stamp? Tabaccheria.  Don’t even think about going to the Post Office.  That’s just not logical.

Don’t worry – it seems like there’s one on every street corner.  You can apparently also mail things (??? what do they even use the Post Office for??) and buy lottery tickets here too.

2. Post Offices Seem… Official

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You can find a post office (or Poste Italiene) by the little yellow tab with the blue “PT” written on it that sticks out over the street.

I say they seem official because my first (and only, so far) run-in with the post office was to send in my residency permit.  When you walk in, there’s a square box with a bunch of buttons on it, and you have to press one to select which service you want.  Then, you get a ticket with a number on it, and you wait until your number is called to go to the front.

It seems a lot easier to just go to the Tabaccheria to mail stuff, so I’m not sure why you would go to the post office unless you had some important documents to send.

3. Middle Names are Kind of a Big Deal

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At my post office adventure, I had a hell of a time explaining the concept of a middle name to the nice woman who was helping me, who also happened to speak very little English.  On my form for my permit, I had put my first name on it, but my passport has both my first and middle names on it.

I typically don’t put my middle name on anything because in the United States it’s just kind of there, but here people actually go by them.  The woman kept pointing to her nametag, which had two names on it, and my mind was blown.

Am I stupid? Yes, I am.

4. Musetti Obsession

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Every cafe here seems to have a sign that says they serve “Musetti”coffee in the front.  After doing some old-school Googlin’, I found their website (it’s also in English – hallelujah!), which states that the company was started by Guido Sicuro Musetti in… *drumroll* Piacenza!

This makes a lot more sense now that everybody serves it since it was first made here!

5. They Take Lunch Breaks Seriously

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Most stores here (ranging from restaurants to clothing stores) are open in the morning, close in the early afternoon, and don’t open again until later in the afternoon.  This means if I have the sudden urge to go shopping at around 2:30PM (or 14:30 since they use a 24-hour clock here…), I’m usually SOL.  Oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

6. I WANT DINNER AND I WANT IT NOW

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Don’t get me wrong… the food here in Italy is great, but most people don’t seem to eat dinner here until around 8:00 at night. I’m used to eating around 5:30PM and usually 7:00PM at the latest, so this is kind of cramping my style.

I know what you’re thinking… why don’t I just eat when I want? That’s all fine and dandy when I’m on my own, but if I want to go out, I have to wait due to the point made in #5.  Most restaurants don’t reopen until 7:00PM, and if you go in then, the place is basically completely empty.

So far so good.  Italy is definitely different than what I’m used to in the United States, and it’s going to take a while to get used to, but I’m grateful for what I’ve experienced so far here and when I have yet to learn! As they say, when in Rome…

(Or when in Piacenza, I guess!)

*Update 10/5/2016: READ PART 2 HERE!!


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*Also published on My Trending Stories

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