A Kid’s Life: Italia

26 Jun

One of the things I’m most interested in is a country’s daily traditions, routines and culture.  I love learning about what an average person does on an average day and finding out all the big and more discreet differences compared to my and my family’s daily routine and happenings.

When I meet a new family from a different country I can usually be found grilling them with questions regarding what they eat, their school system, their free time activities, their daily schedules and vacation rituals.  It’s so interesting to learn about a new culture through what they do on a daily routine basis.

We personally are a bit of a mixed family in regards to our daily routines and traditions thanks to the fact we are a Canadian and a Belgian living in Italy.  We have sort of adopted different aspects of all three cultures and mixed it all up into our daily grind.  It works for us but I’m sure some people would find it absolutely confusing.

So I’ve decided to contact some families from various countries and ask them some pretty basic and simple questions regarding their family and kid’s daily life.  The last question is my favorite, it’s really something I find so interesting to hear from different cultures.  Hope you enjoy it!

I thought I would interview an Italian family as the kick-off to this series.  Gaia has been a good friend of mine for years and is also a fellow blogger (check out her site patasgnaffi).  Let’s see what she has to say about her daily life.

Where do you live?
I live in Northern Italy on Lago Maggiore

Are both you and your husband the same nationality?
Yes, both Italian.

How many children do you have? What are their ages?
We have 3 kids: a 10 year old boy, a little 6 year old girl who is convinced she’s a princess and wee little gnome of a girl who just turned one.

What language(s) do you speak at home?
We speak Italian at home.

In Italy what age do kids start school?
In Italy kids start elementary/Primary school at 6 years old, which means La Principessa will start this coming September.  {Jillian: Italian Scuola Materna (kindergarten)  starts at 3 years old}

During the school year, what time do your kids get up in the morning?
We all get up at 7:15

What do your kids eat for breakfast?
I always try to have a cake or some muffins made for breakfast, but often my kids prefer to eat bread with butter and jam or cereal with fruit.  There is always freshly squeezed orange juice on the table and La Principessa has discovered that a good omelet in the morning is fantastic!

What time does school start?  What is the school schedule like?
School starts at 7:55 and ends three days a week at 4:30pm and two days at 12:30pm.

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?
At school they learn English as a second language (barely!).

Do your kids eat lunch at school or at home? What is a typical lunch they would eat?
On long days the kids usually eat in the cafeteria at school, but sometimes they prefer to come home for a quick bite to eat.  The menu is varied, it could be a pasta, meat with vegetables and sometimes even a salad with many ingredients or a sandwich.  The oldest loves to go a restaurant for Chinese, Japanese or even a kebab.  Incredibily enough we eat very little pizza!

What sort of extra-curricular activities do your kids do?
Our son plays football (soccer) and basketball and La Principessa does ballet.  In this we are definitely stereotypical!

What do you eat for dinner and at what time?
We usually have dinner between 7 and 7:30pm. During the summer vacation usually a bit later.  For the menu it varies a lot.  Luckily I have a husband who loves to cook and always surprises us with delicious dinners.

What time do your kids go to bed?
During the school year the lights have to be out between 8 and 8:30pm.  During the vacation this is much more lenient (though not for our little gnome who always collapses early!).

What do you do as a family on the week-ends?
If we can we like to pass our time with friends.  They come to our house for a meal or we go to their houses.  Here in Italy socializing really revolves around food!  If we manage, we also go to our house in the countryside to spend time with the paternal grandparents.

When are your kids on vacation from school?
Our kids are on vacation from mid-June to mid-September.  It’s a very long time for working mothers to organise but also for us stay-at-home mothers who have to find ways to keep our kids busy for three months!

What is an average summer vacation for your family?
We try and take our kids to the sea for at least three weeks every summer. They also do a few day camps and then the last month we stay at our house in the countryside.  While there we always try and find a few days to go and discover a new city or place.

And now the famous last question.  What are the typical “first foods” for an Italian baby?
We usually start with a little bit of fruit like apple, pear or banana.  We then introduce a vegetable broth with carrots, potatoes and zucchini and added cereal flours such as tapioca or corn.  With our last little one she graduated quite quickly to eating what we eat though!  {Jillian: when we had little babies in Italy our doctor advised us to give ricotta with olive oil and parmesan cheese, rabbit meat, ostrich meat and special pasta for babies from 4 months old!}

{Notice any big differences between your culture and that of Gaia’s?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  If you’re a family living in a different country and would like to take part in these interviews please contact me at jillianinitaly@hotmail.com}


45 Responses to “A Kid’s Life: Italia”

  1. Elena June 26, 2012 at 22:00 #

    Oh, Jillian! What a good idea, I love this new section 🙂 I really enjoyed reading about family life in Italy. Congratulations!!!!

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:32 #

      Thanks Elena. I’d love to interview you one of these days as well. It’s not every day you have a Russian/Cuban (what was I thinking when I wrote Haitian before!) married to a Spanish living in Sweden! J xx

      • Elena June 28, 2012 at 09:52 #

        Sure , but I’m half Cuban, not Haitian, ha ha 😉

  2. Tara June 26, 2012 at 22:11 #

    Oooh, what a fun new series, Jillian! Can’t wait to read them all. Be sure to interview yourself so we can here all about your family, too:)

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:30 #

      I’ll definitely be making little comments about our daily life during the series. Thanks for the visit!

  3. americanmominbordeaux June 26, 2012 at 23:06 #

    Jillian – what a great interview – loved it!! It was a fun read after a long day…so cool to hear what other families do! I loved the last question too…so many cultural differences on that one alone!

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:29 #

      It’s fun to hear what little babies start eating from all the countries. Can you imagine an American baby eating ricotta cheese with rabbit meat? Love it.

  4. patamà June 27, 2012 at 00:07 #

    how nice to be here!

  5. Suzanne June 27, 2012 at 02:40 #

    Oh, I love this! My kids and I love watching the “Families of the World” series on DVD. I like them to see how children in other countries live and what the differences are. Then I have them find the country on a map. I look forward to reading more interviews on your blog!

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:25 #

      Thanks! And I’ve never heard of the “Families of the World” series but it sounds like something we would love. I’ll have to watch it with my family.

  6. greta June 27, 2012 at 07:22 #

    What a fun series! I love it and am looking forward to more.
    Love from,

  7. Deepa June 27, 2012 at 08:34 #

    This is a great idea and a really fun read! It couldn’t be more different from how I grew up in the Philippines… and the differences are what makes it fascinating!

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:23 #

      I can imagine it’s very different in the Philippines. Now to find a nice Philippino family to be interviewed! Can you help??

  8. Serena June 27, 2012 at 08:57 #

    Nice, lovely family!

  9. cilia1 June 27, 2012 at 09:13 #

    mooi geschreven,en heel tof om te lezen

  10. petra June 27, 2012 at 14:47 #

    I love this idea!
    Cake and muffins for breakfast? YUUUUMMMMMMY! The Germans sometimes eat that for breakfast too. We are more of a whole grain bread and musli kind of family….who am I kidding, if the kids had a choice it would be muffins and cake too.
    I am just wondering….how does Gaia get the family up and dressed and fed and teeth brushed and off to school for 7:55 if she gets up at 7:15? wow. that’s all I can say. I barely manage getting everyone ready (ok, Lionel is USELESS in the morning) by 7:30 and they get up at 6:30.
    Can’t wait for the next interview!

    • petra June 27, 2012 at 14:49 #

      PS – the link to her blog doesn’t work for me?!

      • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:17 #

        I fixed the link so it should work now. And yes…the Italians eat cake, cookies and muffins for breakfast. Isn’t that fantastic? Gaia has super-hero powers so I’m pretty sure she is able to get the whole family up, fed, clothed and out the door in 40 minutes with a smile and a cool outfit too.

    • patamà June 28, 2012 at 09:55 #

      ‘m not a superhero! the (cool) outfit are prepared the evening before and the morning the children are preparing yourself in a quarter of  hour. The other quarter of hour eat breakfast, 10 minutes to get to school … voila 😀

  11. yifarn June 27, 2012 at 15:09 #

    This is really interesting! And I’m so envious that they get to wake up at 7.15. That is the time the primary school kids start school in Singapore so we always have to wake up in the dark at 6am!

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 18:04 #

      School starts at 7:15!? That’s so early!! What time do your kids go to bed in the evening? My kid’s school starts at 8:45am and I thought that was early!

      • yifarn June 28, 2012 at 02:44 #

        My kids go to bed at 8.30pm. But most people think my kids sleep early!

  12. JennO June 27, 2012 at 16:58 #

    as always…enjoyed your blog post…very fun and creative idea. i found myself thinking…that’s what i do! or…separated by miles, but the living of life is only a baby step away. i know you want to carry on those family “traditions” you hold dear…but since you are so fortunate to be living there i say, embrace the culture…emerse yourself in it…after all…when in italy…you know the rest of the story.

    • Jillian in Italy June 27, 2012 at 17:20 #

      Yes, I am indeed very fortunate to be living in Italy! It’s a lovely place to bring up my children. The culture, history, food, art….it’s all inspiring!

  13. Judith June 29, 2012 at 23:39 #

    A very nice new series, Jillian! So interesting to read about all our tiny/huge cultural differences!
    Did you see the movie called Babies about 4 babies (from birth to first steps) in Namibia, Tokyo, Mongolia and California? It’s so beautiful & funny & fascinating!

    • Jillian in Italy July 3, 2012 at 18:43 #

      That movie sounds great. I’ll have to get my hands on it to watch with the family.

  14. Cath July 8, 2012 at 22:25 #

    I am amazed her children go to bed so early. Mine go to bed at 9pm and, as my son likes to point out, he is the only one in his class (terza) to be in bed by then!


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