Italian Life Olympics – Event #1

This post has absolutely nothing to do with the actual Olympics or any of the Italian Olympic teams. Mi dispiace.

Successful travel often requires travelers to have packed a fair dose of adaptability and resourcefulness in their luggage. At times it really does take skill to get from one place to another, work out a sign in a foreign language or make sure you’re not eating kitten tails for dinner.

But Italy… Italy’s another story all together.

Resourcefulness, adaptability, and furbizia (trickery) are brought into any experience in Italian society, even by the locals.  Especially by the locals.


Because successfully living in Italy is an Olympic sport.

Take, for example, the Key Toss. It goes like this:

You live on the top floor of a wonderful palazzo in a place like, say, Siena. You’ve got 110 steps between your place and the portone, the ground floor door into the building. You’re supposed to have a citofono (intercom buzzer system) to open the portone for you, but yours hasn’t worked since you moved in, and, in good Italian fashion, you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that the likelihood of it ever getting repaired is nulla. Which means it’s actually 110 steps for you to go down and let someone in, then 110 steps back up to your abode. Never having been friendly with the StairMaster, you become the master of the Key Toss.


Your friends arrive in the street in front of your house. They know your buzzer doesn’t work, but they want in. Some might send an sms or give you a call on the phone. But the die-hards, they yell.

“Saaaaaa-rahhhhhh! Siamo sotto casa!” The first cry alerts you to their presence. Literally, “Sarah! We’re under house!”

The second contains your mission. “Butta le chiavi!” Throw the keys!

You snap into action, going to whichever room faces the street. You open the window and poke your head out.


Grabbing the set of keys you keep just for this purpose, you take aim and launch them. Out the window. Into the street. To your awaiting friends.

Points to you if they don’t get stuck on someone else’s roof. Or in a drainpipe. Points also to them if they catch it.

Your friends then let themselves in, brave the stairs, and return your keys to their spot near the window when they finally make it to your place. You rest easy, satisfied in having saved yourself the fatica (exertion) of doing 220 stairs.

Check back soon for Italian Life Olympics – Event #2!

One thought on “Italian Life Olympics – Event #1

  1. Yes, exactly! I always seemed to find myself in those precarious situations too. Like, I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. But now it is all laughs…:))

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