Things that are different in Italy – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:55 am

A lot of people ask us to describe what it’s like living in Italy. Since it’s a Western country like the US, there are a lot of similarities. But there are a lot of differences as well. I’m going to try and post a list every now and then of some things that I have noticed.

Household Things That Are Different in Italy

  • Utility bills come every two months, and are usually paid at the post office, where you can also have a bank account.
  • Only one major appliance (oven, dishwasher, washing machine) can be run at a time. More than that blows the fuse.
  • Most apartments have radiators for heat.
  • Windows have roll down shutters built in which, when completely rolled down, can block almost all light coming in.
  • The biggest wattage light bulb is 40 W.
  • Air conditioning is a very new thing in Italy. A few homes and businesses have it.
  • Italians use â…“ of the energy that Americans use.
  • Breakfast is very light, perhaps an espresso and a pastry. Lunch isn’t until 1:00 at the earliest and is sometimes a bigger meal than dinner, which isn’t until 7:30 or 8:00.
  • A gallon of fresh, pasteurized milk costs around $4.80. Except that it’s sold by the liter since we use the metric system.
  • Ground beef costs about $2 per pound.
  • Most bathrooms have an “emergency” buzzer that makes a loud sound when you press it, or when you pull a cord attached to it. We’re still not really sure why!
  • Italians also use bidets. If you’re not sure what a bidet is, I’ll give you a hint: they’re next to the toilet, have a faucet attached, and sometimes replace toilet paper. And we aren’t brave enough to use ours yet!
  • Many apartments have tile floors, since marble (which is plentiful in Italy) is much cheaper than wood (which must be imported). Carpet is very rare.
  • Very few people have clothes dryers. All clothes are hung outside to dry.

OK, there’s a sampling of random things. I’ll be adding more differences in the next few days. Feel free to post comments or questions!


Bella Perugia

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:21 pm

I took this picture during La Notte Bianca here in Perguia. From the top of the city, in the center, you can see several church bell towers lit up at night. One of those clusters of light in the background is the city of Assisi. Very nice!


An actual conversation with me and Lance

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:55 am

On the way home from school today…

Dad! I have the funniest story to tell you!

Oh yeah? Tell me…

Well today at recess I was playing this game with Giacomo. And all the girls were shouting, “Lance! Lance! Lance!” And when I beat him, all the girls started chasing me around the playground. And you know what?


Then all the girls started asking me to marry them!

How do you know they were wanting to marry you?

Well they got down on one knee and were begging me to do something!


What’s wrong with this picture?

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:43 am

We spend quite a bit of time waiting for busses. Occasionally the stops are covered and have advertisements on the sides. This advertisement is for the bus system itself, APM Perugia, encouraging people to buy yearly bus passes. However, while waiting one day, we noticed that there are several things wrong with this picture…

  • The girl in the back of the bus is not holding on to her things. Bad idea.
  • There is a cat on the bus. Usually people bring enormous dogs.
  • There is a person on top of the bus. Another bad idea.
  • The driver isn’t talking on a cell phone or reading a newspaper.
  • People are hanging out the windows, which, while not unusual itself, implies that the windows are open. We’ve noticed that no matter the temperature, Italians don’t like to have windows open. Ever.

We almost always appreciate the bus system here. But it does have its quirks!


In the world

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:55 am

We had an interesting conversation with our grammar teacher this morning before class. The fact that I am a pastor is difficult for some Italians to grasp. A religious worker here is either a priest or a nun or possibly a monk, but certainly not sitting across the table for his or her spouse like I do! Somehow we got on the subject of cloistered nuns.

She told us a story from her childhood. Her family lived in a city where there was a convent of cloistered nuns. These nuns never left the convent, never received visitors, and lived inside a completely-hidden compound. Her grandmother would often donate extra eggs or old shoes to the nuns living inside. Our teacher was terrified by this place. The entryway had drawers that opened to the outside. Her grandma would put her donation inside and walk away. No one came to receive the gift; no thank yous were received. She remembered the darkness inside the convent and how the mysteriousness of it all scared her.

She then quickly added an interesting point: she wondered out loud how it is possible for a religious person to stay in one place, simply praying all day long. She admired the commitment that these women make, even today, but thought their time might be better spent praying a little less and helping the needy a lot more. She said that a person can give their life to God and still interact with people.

Our teacher would be the first to say that she doesn’t know much about “religion.” But her simple insight into how a normal person perceives the “religious” renewed my commitment to be salt and light in the world. I share her respect for men and women who can make a vow to live in seclusion for the rest of their lives. But I also share her opinion that the world needs people who don’t only pray, but also work.


Kids say the darndest things…

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:49 pm

Quick quote from Trey… We were about to sit down to eat dinner tonight. Trey looks at his glass full of milk, furrows his brow, gives us all “angry eyebrows” and says, “I wanted juice. I am very disappointed in you!”

Hilarious! Where do they get these things?


I’ve got some awesome kids…

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:32 pm

Today was just full of little stories … If you’d like the short and sweet version: the kids did great at their first day of school. Read on for more tidbits:

The kids woke up early, got dressed, put on their grembiule (a kind of smock they wear as uniforms), grabbed their backpacks and were ready to go. After a few pictures, we headed for school. All three kids go to school in the same building, but Trey’s school is actually a different school in the same building. The big kids got dropped off first, but we weren’t ever able to visit their school or meet their teachers. We arrived to a literal mob of parents, all wandering from room to room asking if their kids were in this class. Not as organized as we would expect, but it all worked out just fine. We found Chloe’s teacher, who leaned over as soon as she realized who Chloe was and said, “Hello! Welcome … to … our … class! I … am … your … friend!” Her English was hesitant, but Chloe got the message and smiled a big smile of relief. She whispered to me, “Dad! I found my first friend!” Dad gets choked up a little bit … The teacher announced it was time for the parents to leave, and we all shuffled out the door.

Heidi went to take Lance to his class. I peeked in on him before I left and he gives me a big thumbs up. Dad gets choked up a little bit …

We have a few minutes before Trey goes to school, so we waited on a nearby bench with Trey. I watched the parents milling around and catching up.

We head downstairs to Trey’s school and found the exact opposite situation. It was quiet, almost serene. Kids were playing in classrooms with books and puzzles. A few parents were sitting with their little ones. Trey’s teacher greeted him warmly, reassured us, and sat him down to play. We barely even got a “goodbye” out of him as we left. Dad gets choked up a little bit …

We catch the bus to our school, and my mind was constantly flitting back to Scuola Lombardo Radice and Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci. It was a little hard for me to concentrate on my lesson, but my teacher understood. I was glad for that.

We ducked out of school early to go get Trey. His teacher thought we might want to ease him into the schedule. When we poked our heads into his classroom we found him sitting in a circle with his classmates who were singing a song. His teacher said, “Trey, chi è¨?” Who is that? He looked at the door, and ran straight to me. Dad gets choked up a little bit. His teacher told us he did great, and that he should be staying the whole time very soon. She shuffled Trey back in the room and told the class to say goodbye to Trey. First they all said, “Ciao!” and then they all said “Good Bye!”

When it was time to get the big kids we found the same horde of parents, this time kept outside the front doors of the school. When the bell rang, kids came pouring out of the school to find a sea of adult faces. Intimidating for me, and I’m a little older than 5! I couldn’t help but smile … this is exactly how things are done in Italy. We saw Lance and then Chloe and then the stories came pouring out. While coloring, Chloe’s teacher asked her “come se dice nube in inglese?” And Chloe answered, “Clouds!” Did I ever teach her that word? Nope. She just learned it!

I have tons more, but this is getting long. Thanks so much for your prayers. We’ll keep the stories coming…

Want to see pictures? Go here: http://www.goancona.com/rotertspictures


9 Hours, 56 Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:19 pm

Tomorrow is a big day for our family. All three kids have their first day of school! Lance & Chloe were homeschooled in the US, and so will start school for the first time. Trey is starting preschool.

We went out to dinner at our favorite restauraunt as a special treat before “freedom ends.” We came home, took showers, set our backpacks by the door and headed for bed. The house is quiet and my stomach is in knots.

When I felt God calling us to help with a church plant in Italy, my first and biggest concern was how it would effect the kids. Would the culture change cause them to become introverted and painfully shy? How will Italian kids treat American kids who don’t speak their language? The questions raced through my head. But I need to remind myself of two things:

1) God loves my kids even more than I do.
2) He’s with them even when I’m not.

Tonight after I prayed with the boys I hugged them and said, “I’m proud of you guys.” Lance turned to me and asked me why. I told him that I’m proud because he is so brave to do something that other kids don’t have to do. He smiled and I could see the twinkle in his eyes and this little squinting thing he does when he’s happy. (His mom and Aunt Brandy do the same thing, by the way.)

I’ve got some amazing kids, and I can’t wait to write tomorrow and tell you just how amazing they are…


Bus Sting Operation

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 pm

The bus system here in Perugia is generally very good. They’re usually on time, but sometimes crowded. There have been few times when we wanted to go somewhere and weren’t able to because of the bus schedule.

Today I had to go to the Collestrada – a quasi-mall that is two bus rides away from us. One bus takes us to a suburb, and the next bus takes us to the mall. Unfortunately I missed the bus that takes me back to the suburb from the collestrada. The next bus didn’t leave for another 70 minutes, and then was 30 minutes late. I was very surprised. But when I got off the bus, I realized why it was late.

The way the system works is pretty simple. You buy a bus a ticket before you get on the bus. When it comes, you get on and put your ticket in the validating machine. It stamps a time on it – one ticket gets you 70 minutes of as many busses as you can fit in. However, there is little accountability past that. Heidi and I have a bus pass, which means we ride for as long as we want as many times as we want – big money saver.

Anyway, as I was about to get off the bus today the driver shut the exit door. Suddenly, and seemingly from out of nowhere, the “bus police” got on and asked everyone to exit at the entrance doors where they were standing. They were checking everybody’s tickets. And I was amazed. Out of the ten people that were on the bus with me, seven were caught riding without a ticket and were given a €30 fine. So now those people are stranded since they’re probably not actually getting off the bus there. And the bus police make them buy a ticket before they can get on a bus again. I imagine these guys have heard every excuse in the book and they didn’t cut anybody any slack.

I have to admit, as a law-abiding citizen I was a little bit happy to see all the freeloaders get what’s coming to them. ☺


Posted in Uncategorized at 11:58 am

Well, another week of school is about to start, but I must fill you in on our weekend. :) We went camping! It was our first time here in Italy. We brought a few of our things from the States-our tent, hammock, and two man boat-our must haves. The rest we mixed and matched and just plain made-do. It turns out, all of our teammates decided to go. It was great fun. The only thing is, it rained. And rained. And rained. We dried off, though, and had a great time.
Camping here is much like the States. The campground is on a lake about 30 minutes from our house. Since we don’t have a car the Casey’s drove out and got our stuff and we took the train. The campground had lake access (but it was pretty cold), a swimming pool, and a little market. And for those who don’t take to the great outdoors, there was a small hotel. I must say that the bathrooms were the cleanest campground bathrooms I have ever seen. And, for those of you who have been to Italy, you know that a clean bathroom is a priceless thing. :)
Well, I’ll get Brian to post some pics for you. It was a great time.