Dick Calabro

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Italian society is said to be dominated by the three ‘M’s – Madonna - Mamma - Mangiare
This is an exaggeration, but like all good generalisations, it contains several grains of truth.

The Italians are certainly a religious people, as the numbers and splendour of their churches testifies. Even quite small villages may have several churches and Sunday morning brings out scores of people and many family groups walking their way to mass. Most Italians devote the afternoon to play. For many this means walking or climbing, both popular sports. As the Sunday driver will find, many go cycling, Italy sharing with France a national passion for the sport.

Whether Italian society is matriarchal depends on who you ask. It is certainly true that, until a few years ago, Italian life was family orientated, and children were the focus of the social unit. Mothers were therefore of prime importance, caring for the children and ensuring their needs were satisfied. The system created a good number of spoilt children, but adult Italians seem none the worse for the experience – unless you include fanatical support for football or growing support for a more liberal attitude towards women.

The final M is ‘mangiare’ – eating. This really is an important feature and Italians enjoy both the eating and its social side. For visitors this can only be good news.


Churches in the area are an excellent way to keep a check on the time; just listen out for the chimes. You will hear two sets of chimes:
The first set of chimes are :
Once  -- quarter past
Twice  -- half past
3 times -- quarter to
4 times -- on the hour

The second set of chimes denote what hour it is, for example:
Once  --  1 o’clock
Twice -- 2 o’ clock and so on
You will find a few variations to this as at 06.30 and 08.00 hrs they ring about 24 times.

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