Rocked by Culture Shock

Every time we leave our little hilltop Italian village and head back to New Jersey I get slammed with culture shock. Usually, it hits me in the wallet. I turn purple when I buy a cappuccino that sucks and costs me $3.00 or more. In Pontelandolfo, a fabulous morning cappuccino is only ninety cents. This year the culture shock surrounded the attitudes and regulations about Covid. For the past seven months we were living in a Southern Italian village that was Covid free and followed all the rules. (Yes, I know that Italy does have high Covid numbers – we live in a magical part of the country.) We had a “green pass” app on our phones that provided stores, restaurants, bars etc. with our personal QR code. That code let the business know that we had been vaccinated and had a booster shot. It also would be used for contact tracing if we had it recorded in a place where Covid was later unearthed.

Great roasted calamari but no over-heard conversations.

We went to the same fabulous seafood restaurant – Sesto Senso – once a week. Once a week the waiters, who all know our names, asked to scan our green pass. The family that owns the restaurant also tossed into storage half of their tables and chairs. Even when the place was fully booked, we were seated so far away from another table that I couldn’t eaves drop.

Without a green pass, or evidence of vaccination and/or a recent negative Covid test, one cannot eat in a restaurant, enter a bar, go to work, ride the train, take a bus or enter the airport. To get into the terminal at Rome Fiumincino Airport we had to show our green pass and wear an N95, FFP2 or KN95 mask. Made sense to me. As we approached the United counter, we had to again show the green pass and the certification of a negative Covid test taken in the last 24 hours. We showed that green pass again at security and at the gate. Jack tells me I am forgetting a few places. It was about six times that we had to have proof of vaccination and/or covid test.

Accidentally one day, I raced into the Mini Market – where I know everyone – and was asked to turn around, go out to my car and get my forgotten mask. Ooops. Masks rock! People wore masks taking a stroll around the piazza. They wore masks shopping, giggling, chatting, learning and living. To me their masks represented their concern for other people. My mask will protect you from me. Mask wearing is a commitment to the society we live and work in. Masked, my sneeze isn’t going to shoot villainous virus thingies over to you.

Masked up at an outdoor art show. Every time the octogenarian artist’s mask slipped,
someone reminded him to yank it up!

Then we landed in New Jersey. BOOM! There is no mask mandate. Once we left the airport we saw maskless faces. BOOM, BOOM! I went into an empty TD bank, wearing my N95 mask, and used the ATM. The bank branch was closed due to Covid. The ATM is in an enclosed space. Two unmasked men walked into to use the adjacent machine. I wanted to scream “put on a %$#&! mask!” Instead, I left. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.

I was horrified that the receptionist in my dermatologists office wasn’t wearing a mask. Was I rude when I refused to go to her station? Everyone else in the doctor’s office wore a mask. BOOOOOOOM!

Is mask wearing such an onerous thing? I am quite used to wearing them.

Culture shock.

Ci vediamo


10 thoughts on “Rocked by Culture Shock

  1. Hi Midge. In Italy are there, as in the US, stupid people who vehemently refuse to be vaccinated? It seems here many, if not most, of the current deaths from COVID are among Trump supporters and other republicans.


  2. Only $3…a bargain. There is an Italian Cafe near me that might charge less than that. Italia and New Jersey are far distant cousins these days. The loss is ours but Italia will endure. Speriamo della vita mia per una caldo ciccolatto dal Italia in NJ. Aspetta !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great info, Midge….we should adapt that policy. I had Covid for about a month….no fun.


    Michelle (Micky) Brackett Broker/Associate Coldwell Banker Realty Serving Hunterdon/Somerset Counties Residential/Commercial 908-295-1107/Cell Email:



  4. So true.  Especially the comments about the cappuccino.  Much better in Pontelandolfo!  Can’t wait to get back. Jeff


  5. I always find it curious that much of the world decries the inability of Italians to follow rules, and yet here we are, folks, with the majority of Italians vaccinated and with the entire country masked up. Inside and outside.

    Well-said, Midge!!

    Apparently to Italians “Personal choice on safety” means more than just 4 separate and individual words: A no-brainer CHOICE ON embracing one’s PERSONAL responsibility to keep everyone’s SAFETY intact.

    Brava Italia!


  6. Hi Midge, Thanks so much for sharing your travel experiences. I think perhaps the Italian rebellious spirit does not apply to helping, caring for, and protecting each other. Alas, here in America, we just don’t get it. If everyone would just mask up, get vaccinated is possible, and stop making this a political issue, the pandemic might end sooner than later.


  7. Actually, some NJ towns DO have mask mandates – Newark, Morristown and Montclair to name three. 71% of the population here is fully vaccinated, less than Italy’s 87% but better than many states. Stay well!


  8. Midge, I really appreciate your comments. We spent the first two weeks on Kauai and the Big Island, and everyone wears masks everywhere. Coming home to western Colorado was culture shock like yours. Masks and vaccinated people represent just over 50% in our county. Let’s hope we can get up to Italy’s level of response. Miss you. Pam


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