Martina ist 27 und eine sozial engagierte Person – das spiegelt sich auch in ihren Antworten wider.
Sie stammt aus Vicenza in Italien, lebt aber seit zwei Jahren in Ljubljana, der Hauptstadt von Slowenien, wo sie als Doktorandin arbeitet und zeitweise in verschiedenen Projekten tätig ist, die meist mit ihrem Hauptfach zusammenhängen: Das Volk der Roma, sowie deren soziale und politische Integration und Abbau von Diskriminierung gegenüber Roma.
Sie verrät einige feine Unterschiede zwischen Italien und Slowenien, die man so vielleicht gar nicht erwartet hätte.
“Tell us a bit about the city where you live now and your hometown. What is it like to live there? What makes them special? How are they different?”
Well, the main difference is that my hometown is a small Italian town while Ljubljana is a capital city. Not a real city, actually, as it is small as well. It has about 300.000 inhabitant, which is a lot for Slovenia.
Vicenza is located in region Veneto, in the North-Eastern part of Italy and it is well known for its UNESCO heritage buildings built by the architect Andrea Palladio during the XVI Century. It is also known for its industries and gold fair. Unfortunately, it lacks of a real cultural life. The exhibitions and events are rare and Vicenza in general is not so tourist friendly.
Ljubljana has the advantages of a capital in a small town. It is a very active place and you can always find some cultural events to attend. Being a town, you can reach many place by walking, and I love walking! It is also full of nature and parks.
“What do you like most about your home country? And about the country you are currently living in?”
I love Italy! I love the food, atmosphere and the fact that people are mostly easygoing. I like the fact that our Country is home for a big variety of culture. Not many people know but we have many ethnic minorities that are living in Italy for Centuries now. This makes our Country to be culturally rich.
The thing I love the most about Slovenia is nature. It is plenty of woods and mountains here. I think Slovenia has a very interesting history and a well developed literature style.
“And what are the things you don’t like about those countries?”
About Italy, corruption for sure. Italy is one of the most corrupted EU Countries which doesn’t make me proud. Also, many Italians are ignorant towards their own language and towards differences. Racism in Italy is caused mostly by a lack of information and the blind following of charismatic leaders.
Slovenia sure lack of the Southern easygoing culture. It is a Country that wants to state its belonging to Middle Europe but does it in the wrong way. People are often depressed here and alcohol seems a must, unfortunately. But not all the people are like that, many Slovenes do criticize that „Slovenian“ attitude.
“Did you face any problems with your expat status?”
Sure. Most of all because Slovenian nationalists do hate Italians (and Hungarians, and people from the Western Balkans). Unfortunately, during fascism Italy persecuted the Slovenes living in Italy and didn’t allow them to speak Slovene, so now Slovenians in general do not like Italians very much. I think many people have a positive attitude towards me because I speak Slovene fluently. But they keep blame me for the fascist actions…
“Would you like to live somewhere else? To return home? If yes, where and why? If no, why not?”
I’m not sure about where I’ll live in the future. Here in Slovenia I have many friends, while my Italian ones mostly migrated or moved somewhere else. Also, I have my dance class, and bharatanatyam (a classic Indian dance) cannot be found everywhere. So I guess I would stay in Slovenia, if possible.
“What should someone who visits your home country / the country you live in do and see?”
I think both the Countries worth to be explored. They both have many lovely places to be seen. My favorite Italian region is Tuscany, so I would advice a tourist to start from there. I love Arezzo and Siena. But I would advice her/him to visit Veneto as well. We have Venice, Verona and also my hometown that worth a visit. Then I love Alberobello in Puglia region and Matera in Basilicata.
My favorite Slovenian places are Ljubljana, Maribor and Celje, if you are searching for a touristic town. Radovljica has an amazing beekeeping museum, Slovenian traditional bee houses are beautifully painted. If you are a romantic person you can have a walk around lake Bled and if you like creepy things, the Hrastovlje church and its dance macabre are the place for you.
“And what should they definitely not do?”
In Italy both women and men need to wear long trousers (or skirts) and to avoid tank tops to enter in churches. This is a think that can hurt people and, sometimes, you would be told to exit the place. So, if you wear a tank top, be sure to have a light scarf with you to cover your shoulders.
In Slovenia be sure to not break any traffic rule, the police would have no mercy of the „but I’m foreign and didn’t knew“ excuse.
“What are your favourite meals of your traditional cuisine? What do you think of the local cuisine of your current living place?”
Gnocchi made of sweet cheese (ricotta), which is a local meal from my province. I love Italian food in general and I would recommend to taste local food and not to go only for the classic pizza or pasta with tomato sauce.
Slovenia has meaty dishes the most, so I haven’t tried a lot (I’m vegetarian) but I love cheese struklji (kinda pasta rolls) and potica (a cake).
“And how about drinks? What drinks should we try when we visit?”
Italian espresso coffee, of course! I’m addicted to it and still drink it here.
For Slovenia I would recommend Slovenian berry teas. Having lot of woods, Slovenes have a long tradition of berry teas.
“How do you get around in your country? Do people use public transport or do you prefer not to? Why?”
In Italy public transports can be ok or very bad. I cannot give an advice as a whole, as it is realy depending on the place you are.
Slovenia has a great public transports system and I would advice to use it. Mind that trains can be slow.
“Which artists should we check out of those countries? (authors, musicians, painters …)”
I think Italy speaks for itself. I would recommend to check our well known painters such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Da Vinci and so on. Don’t skip a visit to an art museum, if you are in Italy.
If you are in Slovenia try to find some translated book by a Slovene writers, you can find a few in some big bookshops. Personally, I love Skubic, his books do describe the low caste life here very well (I’m an expat, so low caste for the Slovenian society, no matter my MA degree)
“What does your ordinary day look like? Do you think it’s a typical everyday’s life for people in your living place?”
I don’t have an ordinary day. Is it common here to do not have one? Yes, if you are self employed. The difference is that I can hardly eat early like Slovenians do. I know that it is healthy, but it is strange to me.
“If not: How would you say *is* a typical everday’s life there?”
A big breakfast with meat and eggs (something alien to Italians), going to work or to school and having a dinner very early. Watching television is a typical after dinner hobby. I don’t own a TV and I wasn’t watching it even when my flat mates had a working one. But I have to say that the Slovenian national TV programs are more cultural than the Italian ones.
“How is this different to your home country?”
People being more cold to strangers, that is the main difference.
“What’s the best season for visiting your country? Why?”
I think spring or autumn. Italy has hot and humid summers, which are not so pleasant.
“And your current living place? When should we go there?”
Spring or autumn too. Slovenia is too crowded with tourists, during the summer.
“Tell us something about traditional activities, festivals or holidays in your home area. Which do you enjoy most? How do you celebrate them?”
Carnival. Not only the Venice one, I’ve never been there, too crowded. You can enjoy carnivals and carnival sweets in many Italian towns and villages. The Malo one, in Vicenza province, is known for its amazing carts.
“Are there local traditions / holidays that surprised you a lot when you came to your current place of living? Or that you liked or disliked particularly?”
I love the culture day, February the 8th. In that day all the Slovenian museums are open for free and you can find a lot of additional cultural events. If you like Romani culture there is the Roma month in April, which I love.
“Where would you like to travel in your life? Why?”
I would like to travel to Romania and to see it better. I went there this summer but had no time for sightseeing. I would also love to visit more Bosnia, as I love that Country.
A new place I really hope to be able to visit someday is India, I would love to go for an intensive dance training, but I would avoid new age touristic places.
“Most of my readers are from Germany and Austria. What comes to your mind when you think about these countries? Are there any stereotypes about Germans or Austrians in your country?”
Italians do often see Germans as cold, hardworking and tidy people. Austria for them is most Christmassy. I have in mind a rich cultural tradition and history both for Germany and Austria. The first reminds me of literature and philosophy and the later about the Austro-Hungarian empire (and its good and bad).
Should have I to mention that many Slovenians adore Austria?
“What do you think: Which stereotypes exist about your country and its people? Are they correct – at least partly – or not?”
Mafia of course. I had many people asking me if I escaped from mafia, if I migrated to work for the Italian mafia and if my father is into mafia! My dad! Also, people are impressed that I speak Slovenian and English as there is the common opinion that Italians cannot learn foreign languages (for genetics reasons). It is true that many Italians cannot speak foreign languages but this is due to our bad education system.
The positive stereotypes are that all Italians are into fashion (wrong, I know many Italians that do not nothing about clothes) and that Italy is a rich Country (which can be dismantled by reading any European economy news)
“What about the stereotypes you had about the people in the place where you are living now? Where you surprised? Did they match the stereotypes?”
I had a better opinion about Slovenians that the one I found out to be true. I thought they were more open to foreigners. Then I started having second generation friends and I saw how they were not accepted by many people. The prejudice about the barbarian migrant is still strong here, even within apparently non racist people.
“If you could change one thing about the place where you live. What would it be?”
I would change the islamophobic ideas that are widespread here. And all the prejudices towards migrants, of course.
“Your dreams for the future?”
As for now, I try to achieve the goals I’m working in, my studies and dance are the things that I want to focus in. I want to become a researcher and to give my contribution in lowering all this racism. I also want to get all the best from dance and to keep doing it until I will be old and unable to move.
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