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We are still collecting information on the Italy Milan Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snapshot of Italy – With one of the most fascinating and rich histories of the Western world, Italy was colonized by the Greeks between the 17th and 11th centuries… BC. Rome and its neighboring city-states were the capitol of the Roman Empire, and Italy again gained significant during the Renaissance (roughly the 13th to 17th centuries in Italy). Today, the official language is Italian, although dialects of Italian vary by region. The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest religion in Italy, with the vast majority of the population being Catholic; however, only about one-third of these are active. Protestant churches and other religious groups are also present in smaller numbers.
Italy also has an impressive history in architecture, art and sculpture, literature, science, and fashion. Opera originated in the country, although more popular (modern) music styles include dance, electronic, pop, and hip hop. Soccer is Italy’s most popular sport, though volleyball, basketball, and auto racing are also quite popular. Skiing is a popular activity in the north of the country. Italian cuisine is well-known for having many different types of pasta, ranging from spaghetti to stuffed pastas and lasagnas. Other common ingredients in meals include different types of sausage (including salami), fish, tomatoes, pesto, and cheeses. There are many regional differences in the types of pasta, meats, and sauces used in cooking. In some areas, rice dishes (such as risotto) are more common than pasta dishes. Cheese and fruits, as well as cakes, are common dessert items. Lunch is traditionally the largest meal in Italy, though a lighter mid-afternoon snack and dinner are also common. Italian meals can be lengthy and involve many courses.
Snapshot of San Marino (part of the Italy Milan Mission) – This tiny republic claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world, and currently has a population of around 30,000 natives. The official language of San Marino is Italian, though Romagnol is also widely spoken. About 97% of San Marino’s small population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, about half of whom are practicing members. As a result, the Roman Catholic church has a large influence on daily life, and many Catholic holidays are celebrated as public national holidays. San Marino’s culture is largely influenced by Italian culture. One of the most famous sites in the country are the Three Towers of San Marino, medieval towers overlooking the capital city from nearby peaks. Soccer is the country’s most popular sport, though basketball and volleyball are also somewhat popular. Though San Marino’s cuisine is similar to that of Italy, there are a few unique dishes such as nidi di rondine (baked pasta with tomato sauce and beef, ham, and cheese) and torta tre monti (a layered cake made using wafers and chocolate crème).
The Church has been in Italy since 1850, when Lorenzo Snow opened the country to missionary work in the Piedmont valley. However, after initial efforts, anti-Mormon opposition arose and missionaries were forbidden for nearly a century. In 1964 the Church was finally allowed to resume missionary efforts in Italy; in 1966 the first Italian Mission was organized in Florence; and by 1985 there were 12,000 members. The Church began growing rapidly, with the Italian government granting legal recognition in 1993, and official status as a “church and partner of the state” in 2012. Today, the Italy Milan Mission is comprised of five stakes and two districts (see this map for mission boundaries and unit locations). There is a temple under construction in Italy, but it falls outside of the mission boundaries, in Rome.
Italy is world-renowned for its fine cuisine, including pastas, breads, and delightful desserts. As can be expected, Italian dishes like spaghetti, paninis, and pizza, abound–but don’t expect them to taste exactly like their American versions (many missionaries prefer the Italian). Seafood is especially fresh and popular in coastal areas. While Italians eat salad, they just put oil and balsamic vinegar instead of traditional “dressing,” and they use much more raw onion. Italians tend to eat many types of olives. With its Mediterranean climate, Italy is able to grow a wide variety of foods. Vineyards (and wine) are especially prosperous in the northern regions of the country.
Etiquette is slightly different in Italy: it is rude to ask for salt at the table. You will never dish out food for yourself. Instead, the host will serve you, unless they specifically direct otherwise.
Missionaries in the Italy Milan Mission do not drive (except for special leadership assignments, as required). Expect to walk, ride bikes, and take the public transportation. Milan, its metropolitan area (the biggest in Italy!) and other major cities have great metro and bus systems that missionaries should anticipate taking. Walking and riding bikes is more common in smaller cities.
Italy as a whole is a safe country; stay alert for petty theft, such as pickpocketers. Sisters should be prepared to be “hit on” more than normal in the U.S., which is common throughout many European countries.
Italians have very little personal space and are comfortable standing much closer than most North Americans are accustomed to. Many times grown children will live at home until married, sometimes several generations under the same roof.
In Venice, there is a huge festival, Carnivale, that takes place the two weeks before Ash Wednesday every year. Participants walk around in costume with elaborate masks, which are highly prized.
Italians quickly change from the formal “you” form to the informal; as a missionary, you are expected to stay in the formal unless otherwise directed by mission leaders. Most older people, nuns, and other religious figures will use the formal.
Take time to visit Italy’s impressive history during preparation day, with permission from mission leaders (of course). There are beautiful castles, cathedrals, and historic sites–some dating from Roman times.
Via Antonio Gramsci 13/2
20090 Opera MI
Current mission blog: http://missionemilano.blogspot.com/ (great facts in the “Just Called?” section for new missionaries)
Straight from the Italy Milan Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Root beer, tacos.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Everyone eats pasta.” —Erik
“Oh pasta for sure… but pasta for me never got old and still isn’t old because there are so many varieties! In the Milan area, though, there are a lot of South Americans so I had quite a bit of Brazilian, Argentinian, and Peruvian food. Also there is a large community of Philipinos and Africans, so that food can be really exciting as well.” —Charlie
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Some Brazilian Fezhuada (spelling?), there were pig snout and ears for flavoring… I think I ate cow intestine once but I may have misheard the member who served it to us. I had rabbit for Christmas dinner, I’ve had cow tongue, oh… and, squid ink pasta, that’s totally a thing!” —Charlie.
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The climate varies greatly, in my opinion. Summers are hot and humid sometimes… very hot and humid, which means the winters can be equally bone-chilling.” —Charlie
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Italy Milan Mission?
“Learn to love the Italian culture and the people! They are so funny and wonderful!”
“How you dress is important to the Italians, so I would suggest pre-missionaries not buy an American overcoat unless they absolutely have to.” —Charlie
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I think in general Europe has the taboo of religion where America has the taboo of sex… you will see MUCH more affection in public (and people who talk about religion are looked upon oddly because it is something private that many people don’t want to discuss). Violence is seen much less often in films than romance, so they are just much more okay with seeing that sort of stuff. Image is everything to Italians.” —Charlie
**Did you serve in the Italy Milan Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com.**