Thursday, August 18, 2016

FERRAGRUMPO

The above is my attempt at a portmanteau word to describe my feelings in this Ferragosto season. The closure of just about everything - in some cases for almost a month - doesn't usually get to me as badly and maybe it's partly because I've been a bit down but I am not the only one to be giving vent to my frustration.

In mitigation, I would say that, for a person without family around them, going to the bar for a coffee might be their only face to face interaction in the day and a visit to the hairdresser or the beautician might be their only tactile contact with another human being. Not everyone, even in Italy, is surrounded by family so there must be others who are as fed up as I am.

Yes, normally I am the first person to say, "If you can't accept a country's customs, don't live there" but the most successful societies do absorb some ideas which come from outside and long-term settlers who contribute to a country's economy do have a right to voice their opinions from time to time. All societies have to adapt to some extent to the age they are living in. As I have said many times before, the fact that Italy so often fails to do so is often part of its attraction but surely a compromise could be reached at this time of year.

The tourists the country depends upon, expats and Italians who have travelled all have expectations and one of these is, "Be open!"   Obviously, I can understand a sole trader needing to close for a week to go on holiday but where there are two managers and several workers, surely time off could be staggered?  The rest of the world works during August, Italy, and much of it for 24/7. When non-Italians see signs saying, "Closed 13th - 31st August" their reaction, more often than not, is "WHAAAAAT?!!" People also expect such notices to be polite, so any visitors to Modica who saw and understood the Post Office's sign this week will have been unimpressed:

"Remember we're closed on 15th August. We need to spend it with friends and family too."

Where else in the world could you display such admonishments to your client√®le and get away with it?  And where else could hairdressing salons, greengroceries and even pharmacies demonstrate disdain towards their customers by closing down for as long as three weeks? These businesses would not survive in more competitive economies and a lot of them know it.  Come on, Italy - it's 2016!

5 comments:

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"ferragrumpo"

Brilliant, I may steal this.

But shouldn't it, in your case, be "ferragrumpa"?

It is annoying, isn't it. We got out last week so missed it this time...

Colette said...

This practice of Ferragosto is interesting and completely different than life (and the insane emphasis on productivity and accumulating wealth) in many parts of the U.S. On the one hand I find it charming. On the other hand, I can well imagine how frustrating (and potentially dangerous - re: pharmacies) it might be for locals and tourists. It seems to be our nature as human beings to cling to outdated cultural norms and customs long after they prove irrelevant. I wonder how much longer this custom can last in our global economy?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WY. Steal it how?! Re the agreement, no as it's not an Italian word and "Ferragosto" doesn't have a feminine form. I wanted to keep the "o" sound.

Laruchka said...

If it was for a whole week I could understand where you are coming from, but I approve of the Italians being protective of their bank holidays. Everyone deserves a day off with their friends and family once in a while. Sadly in Milan things are changing. I think my husband has had about 1 bank holiday off in 3 years. Contrary to popular belief about la dolce vita the Italians work some of the longest hours in Europe.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Oh, I agree, Laruchka but there are bars and shops down here that are still closed!

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