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Italy, trash and gates

2 Questions. Just returned from a month in Italy/Sicily.
Love it.
1.Why is there trash everywhere? Bottles, papers etc. on the streets on the beaches in the parks? There was no strike at the time.
2.Why are all the houses surrounded by fences and gates? The windows were covered with wooden or steel shutters. Everytime we opened a shutter, someone closed it.

Posted by
14615 posts

Shutters are common in Italy and serve two main purposes:

1) Screens are not common so shutters help to keep the bugs out;

2) Closed shutters help to control the inside temperature. Air conditioning is not that common and closing the shuters helps to keep the midday heat out. While this is mostly used in much warmer weather, many Italians have gotten into the habit of closing the shutters during the day all year round.

As for the trash, well, lets just say that up until recently, organized crime controlled most of the "garbage" in the area. It's being cleaned up--in two different senses--but habits are hard to break.

Posted by
7737 posts

As for your question about fences and gates, that's the way they've done things in Italy for centuries, probably out of a security concern. Most Italians think the US concept of unfenced front yards is just bizarre.

Posted by
252 posts

My Uncle spends half the year in Sicily. The last time I went to visit him, I mentioned how clean the streets were. He laughed and said that's because there was a new politician in charge. Every time a new head honcho comes along, the city is spotless for a few months. After that, it goes back to being a mess.

Posted by
3576 posts

I think the fences and gates have more to do with perceptions of crime threats than reality. A few years ago, we stayed at a b&b in the hills above Alba, a non-touristy town about a half hour from Turin. Some days we walked down to the town, passing houses with more serious security provisions than I've ever seen in the U.S. Another time we stayed in the hills above Sta. Margherita Ligure. Same story. I find it hard to believe that either area is crime ridden. Oh, and you didn't mention the dogs that begin barking hysterically whenever a stranger strolls past. We noticed a similar phenomenon in Japan when we visited in 1987. Many houses had barred windows, and not just in Tokyo, even though Japan has a famously low crime rate. Come to think of it, there was a lot of trash in public places, also. My daughter, who was living there, explained that the Japanese have a concept of the private space, which they keep very clean, and the outside space, where it was permissible to litter in ways we would consider outrageous. For example, picnic remains left in the sand on a beach. Maybe the Italians have similar cultural assumptions.

Posted by
401 posts

Regarding the shutters, we don't have central air so in the summer we leave everything open for as long as it is cooler outside, then when the sun starts to hit we lower the shutters to trap inside the cooler air. In the winter it adds a bit of extra insulation against the elements.
People here to do worry about their homes being broken into, have you ever looked at the door to an Italian home? They have steel bars that tend to lock in at two different points on the side, and at least once at the base. No one will kick down your door in Italy. The shutters are also used to keep theives from entering through windows or balcony door. How real or imaginary the threat is, I don't know, but it is something people here worry about. I used to find the shutters very claustrophobic, now I can't believe how exposed people's homes are in the States....