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Education Matters: Italians, Americans and plumbing problems

June 02, 2011|By Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

At the approach of our 40th wedding anniversary, my wife and I decided a few years back to celebrate our time together by traveling to Italy, which is where we have been for the past 20 days.

A hundred years ago, her grandparents uprooted themselves from a small village in northern Italy and made their long journey to a foreign land that offered a better life than the one they had in the old country.


One of our hopes in the last few weeks was to make contact with a distant relative — a Maga or a Buscaglia — in that small village, but we were unsuccessful. But we did return to Florence, where 41 years ago I proposed to Nadine in a certain little café overlooking the Arno river. She had been touring with an art history group and I was doing the youth hostel thing with my buddy Sam. We (Nadine and I) managed to rendezvous in this magnificent city and I whisked her away for an afternoon.

Still very much in love with each other and still captivated with the beauty of this country, we retraced some old steps and added a trove of new memories. It was a fabulous vacation, but we’re also glad to be home.

I jotted down a few impressions of our visit, all of course cursory for this relatively short time we spent, but interesting nevertheless from the perspective of one who is alternately fascinated and perplexed by differences that exist in this human family of ours.

Italians, for instance, take food far more seriously than we Americans do — or, should I say, than this American does. Their dinners begin much later in the evening (anywhere from 7 to 9 p.m.), they often involve three or four courses and families that linger longer after they have eaten, whether at home or in a restaurant.

That’s something that we here in this country can learn from, many of us eating on the run or going off into our household sanctums to eat while we sit at our computers. Italians do not consider a quick drive-through at McDonald’s or Burger King to be a meal. Our fast-food franchises have made inroads into their country, but are far from being a mainstay of eating habits as they have become in our country.

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