Babies are called bimbi in Italian and since we have a nine and a half months old with us, it is almost impossible not to write about the new customs and habits we have come across regarding the little ones.
First and foremost, statistics may show that Italy is suffering from the lowest nativity rates in Europe, but in this corner of the country we seem to be noticing the opposite. Almost everywhere you look, in small or large towns, there is an abundance of stores dedicates to the youngest. There are clothes stores selling the cutest outfits imaginable, many almost doll-like for the girls and very tailored for the boys. Practicality doesn’t seem to be in fashion here, but hey, this is the country of Dolce and Gabbana and not of Polarn and Pyret. Funny enough the well-known colour schemes for boys and girls don’t seem to apply here either. The little girls seem to be dressed in blues, whites and purples and not only in different shades of pink. The boy’s outfits tend to stick to black and red tones. From what we understood, as much as the clothes look nice, the price and quality ratio isn’t always the best, so we’ll stick to what we have for now and will probably just opt for an absolute “must have” if we see it.
If the clothes shops (not many chains here) weren’t enough, there are toys stores, party stores and even underwear stores for the little ones, all competing with each other to win customers.
The strangest thing we have found so far are the pharmacies though. Unlike in the rest of Europe, pharmacies seem to be the place where parents buy baby food, nappies, wet wipes, crèmes, lotions, toys, dummies, bottles – well, basically everything apart from clothes. We asked how it came to be that all of these items (that we normally buy in a supermarket) were sold in a pharmacy, we got a very surprised look and the response “But where else?”.
So now we do like most Italians do and buy our Pampers (not as good as the Libero’s) and our wet-wipes (that are all perfumed!) in the pharmacies but we stay clear of the cans of food. Not because we don’t trust the Italian baby food products, but because the fresh ingredients here are just so full of flavour that we would feel bad depriving “mini” from them. Although, as we were looking for iron enriched porridge we found out that in Italy babies don’t get enriched anything, the food here is considered good enough.
They definitely feed children well in Italy, but without the long list of rules that seems so important to parents in Sweden. Our little one has in just the last few days been given everything from grandma’s spaghetti, to parmesan, to strawberries and choux á la crème from the eager hands of our Italian friends, but she munched them all down with great happiness.
The conclusion we have reached so far is that the bimbi are adored, constantly shown off, the immediate center of attention and all adults can’t resist giving them toys, oranges and food. No wonder the children look so happy here!