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Siestas
Old 10-20-2007, 01:00 PM   #1
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Siestas

Those of us who are FIREd know that there is nothing like an afternoon nap. But if we weren't retired, would it still be enjoyable? I've never understood how it actually plays out---just that in some Spanish-speaking countries, there is a midafternoon break and then people resume work, working late and then having dinner late. I recently read a book that mentioned siestas in India of all places---in Goa, because it had been a Portuguese colony and the custom is still holding. They described businesses (at least stores) closing from 12 to 5.

I can't imagine waking up early to get to work around 8, working until 12, having a 5 hour break, and then returning to work until about 9 and then having dinner! I thought school bus drivers had it bad with their split shifts, but at least they are done way before 6 p.m.

When I worked, I was so into it and had so much to do that I didn't take even an hour long lunch break. I just worked through lunch, nibbling stuff at my desk, so I could get my work done at a reasonable hour. It didn't seem relaxing to me to fight the lunchhour traffic and deal with crowded restaurants or stores (not to mention that daily eating out and shopping wasn't part of the plan leading to FIRE at 52). I can't see how people could enjoy several hours off knowing they still weren't done with work for the day.

I wonder if people who live in countries where workers take siestas have a different attitude toward work. I wonder if they are more or less apt to FIRE (or to want to FIRe). Puzzling...
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:28 PM   #2
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I worked in the car biz most of my life so most days I worked 9 to 9 and no time for a siesta.

Slept till 10:45 this morning now that I'm retired. I don't nap in the afternoon because I never did because of my job. Also I sleep so late I'm not tired in the afternoon.
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Old 10-20-2007, 06:28 PM   #3
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I worked 12 hr shift work for 25 years, 4 on 4 off, nights to days every 8 days. Major Bummer. I still do not sleep normally. To Sleep when you are sleepy and be awake when you are awake, no stress to sleep because you have to get up at 4:45 am to get to work.........HEAVEN ......A nap in the afternoon when my body decides it is on night shift is the greatest luxury of ER!
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:19 PM   #4
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I experienced this when visiting SIL in Canary Islands. You're right, it's crazy. I did not like it.
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:30 PM   #5
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Now that I'm ER'd I sometimes siesta in the afternoon. Especially in the summer when it's hot out I'll climb into the lazyboy for a few hours to read the newspaper, watch a TV show, and catch about an hour snooze. Now that it's cooler out I don't siesta as often or as long.....maybe once or twice a week for about an hour or so.

If I was still w*rking I definitely wouldn't siesta.....I'd want to get my sentence served 8 hours in and get the heck outta there!!!
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:46 PM   #6
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The best sleep I get is watching Sunday afternoon golf on TV..learned it from my father.
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Old 10-20-2007, 08:04 PM   #7
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I'm afraid to nap; it used to mess up my sleep cycles and trigger migraines.
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Old 10-20-2007, 08:26 PM   #8
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From what I've come to know of Italy, the concept of FIRE is non-existent; either one is of a rich caste (in which case one's time is one's own and always has been) or one works within the traditional scheme of pay and hours culminating in a small pension like SS.

The "siesta" period is in effect here, though it may have experienced inroads in the North. (We are in the central region.). 99% of stores here do close for lunch at around 1:00 and re-open at 4:00-5:00 (to then stay open until 7:00-8:00). I'm not sure how many people actually sleep at all, but there is a period of "rest". I also don't know how they physically cope in a city like Barcelona that goes all night. When I was a younger student in Italy there was almost a second "siesta" from after dinner until the time when young folks would start going out to the discotheques (no earlier than midnight!).

It requires adjustment because one can never "pop out" for a missing lunch or supper ingredient "fuori orario". OTOH it perpetuates a strong home/family bond by assuming workers/students will go home for lunch and supper. The hours may shift depending on the season; in summer the afternoon shift is somewhat later, which makes sense especially in the South where the mid-day/early-afternoon heat is brutal. I think in places like Spain, Sicily, or the OP's India/Goa.. it's hard to imagine carrying out any real work -even not that physically taxing- in the temperatures they experience 12-5pm much of the year. It's not an all-air-conditioned world.

I grew up in the US walking home for lunch from school and returning, through the 6th grade, and thought nothing of it; it was normal and I had a shock transitioning to the jr. high 20 min. periods (including arriving, perhaps buying lunch, finding a spot, eating, and departing).

Howver, it's hard to cancel out the intervening 30+ years of habituation to stores being open more-or-less continuously. It does help curtail consumption: no late-night runs to the Store 24 for Chunky Monkey; there's no such thing in our region as a Store 24, or even a 7-11. There was ONE all-night food store that we knew of in Rome (pop. 3 million or so?).

Outside the food shops, the most irritating I find to be the garden/home improvement stores which -not only aren't open on Sunday but- aren't even open (some of them) on Saturday!! ARg. Most all businesses take 2 days/week off, including supermarkets - Sunday plus one other weekday co-ordinated depending on the town gov. in its fascist/communist guise; in our town all food markets are closed also on Wed.)

I LOVE the sensation of initiating an afternoon nap, whether it's because the weather is sultry in the summer or brisk and cool in the fall. There's hell to pay, though, if I actually need to wake up and start thinking about making dinner an hour or two later. I feel all out of sorts: headache-y and clogged.

The lunch/siesta period here is either sacred or profane. Certain elements treat it as inviolate; others as the "guaranteed" time when someone will be home and thus available for contact. Workers may "pop round" at any time from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. You can POINTEDLY ask them to call first, but they never will, yet they are always very cautious and reticent about actually physically entering the house for fear of disturbing someone. (The dog is barking madly, you've rung the loud buzzer.. and? now you tiptoe? "permesso?").

I remember last year a certain worker said -in all seriousness- when he noticed we were in the middle of eating lunch: "scusate per avervi tolto un' pezzo dell'anima" -- "I'm sorry to have taken a little piece of your soul" (meaning the sacred lunch period!!). It was quite touching.
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Old 10-20-2007, 09:14 PM   #9
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Ladelfina - thanks for your post - very informative and entertaining. I'm going to ask my son how he's dealing with the Italian customs and the sacred lunch period during his school day!
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Old 10-20-2007, 09:54 PM   #10
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Dan, I meant to post some more detailed/better recipes. I hope your son is having a blast! I'm sure he is coming up against some very interesting alimentary superstitions and habits (and also finding a few dynamite foodstuffs).

Is he going to an American/foreigner-oriented school or doing an 100% Italian immersion?

It's hard to "cool your heels" during the lunch (siesta) hours, anyway, even in a city center, since essentially all places other than restaurants will usually be closed aside from souvenir shops.

The 24-hour-store was along the Portuense road (not terribly far from EUR if absolutely necessary and you have access to a car). I think we bought Haägen-Dazs ice cream there (unknown/unavailable elsewhere) for some probably-ungodly sum. Significantly inside the Raccordo and next to one of the few Blockbuster video stores and what seemed to be a gym at the time. On the right-hand side of la Portuense heading toward the center. I'm realising these recollections are several years old.

One place that I haven't actually been to (but is world-renowned for what it offers) is a bakery in Campo dei Fiori- one of the few left that makes the real "pizza Romana", like what I described at Piazza dell'Orologio (which is not that far off and who knows if that's actually where they get the "pizza"/foccaccia-type bread for their excellent sandwiches?). It's called something basic like "Forno Campo dei Fiori" or "Antico Forno Campo dei Fiori".

Arrrgh.. I am dying here with the blah/flavorless Tuscan bread (rigorously without salt).
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Old 10-20-2007, 10:47 PM   #11
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I came here from India when I was 10 and it was a hard adjustment because there was no nap in the afternoon and everyone ate so early!
In New Delhi, India we had the afternoons off...my family would go work in the morning at the family store and then come home in the afternoon for lunch and a snooze....they would all go back around 5 or 6 and then come back for dinner at 9:30/10:00 and we would all have dinner together.
I still (22 years later) am not a morning person, would love to crawl into bed at 1pm for a nap, and have dinner at 9 most nights. I guess the laid back pace in other areas doesn't make you feel like you are always rushing. People have time during the day to do their errands, rest, and visit with friends which leaves the weekends for just relaxing.
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Old 10-21-2007, 09:28 AM   #12
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Dear Ladelfina,
He is at Dilit International - 10 minute walk east from Repubblica.
Taking Italian, Italian Lit (Dante, Petrarch) Art History, Seminar. He likes his Italian Profs - they are very passionate about their subjects.
Lots of field trips Florence, Cinque Tera, Pompei, Subiaco, etc
He lives out on Marconi west of the Tiber not far from Portuense.
I'll email him today about the bakery.

He likes to go to the flea market at Porta Portese on Sunday - bought a guitar and salivates over first issue albums from the 60s.

He is in love with Rome, Italy and the Italians. Alas for him, he leaves for Athens (by ferry) on the 27th to study there until Christmas. He vows to return.....
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Old 10-21-2007, 11:13 AM   #13
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Sounds great with all the field trips! I'm sure Athens will be interesting, too.

Hey, the "forno" has a web site:
Forno Campo Dé Fiori - Home Page

Best wishes
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Old 10-21-2007, 01:30 PM   #14
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I can't imagine waking up early to get to work around 8, working until 12, having a 5 hour break,
I'm with you. A 5 hour nap/break seems counterproductive to me. Maybe that's why USA is consistently the most productive country in the world. Even though I am currently in a ER status, I seldom can find time to take a nap unless I have had a restless night and got only a few hours of sleep.
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Old 10-21-2007, 01:45 PM   #15
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A nap is 15-30 min...

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Old 10-21-2007, 04:07 PM   #16
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I really don't like it either, but..
Here it's work until 1:00.. then time to get home, prepare/have an hour+ lunch, then time, if you want, to take a nap, and then travel back for 4:00-4:30 usually. I think it's a habitual holdover from when most people went out to work in the nearby fields. Those were the hottest hours of the day, and at same time the mid-day meal was the heaviest to give you strength. With office work, A/C, and long job commutes it obviously makes less sense.
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:25 AM   #17
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Ladelfina,
just got text message - son is up in Tuscany (Cortona) at the villa where Under The Tuscan Sun was written, just got through picking olives for 2 hours and is hanging out with Frances Mayes right now. Don't know how they came to be there but It sounds like she's putting them to work..are you up in that area?
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:26 AM   #18
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well, it's not that far off, maybe 45 min.?

That Frances Mayes, boy.. what a racket. She's the last person who needs free labor if that's who they're helping.
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Old 10-25-2007, 04:43 PM   #19
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well, it's not that far off, maybe 45 min.?

That Frances Mayes, boy.. what a racket. She's the last person who needs free labor if that's who they're helping.
What's her racket? Maybe she made them lunch!
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Old 10-26-2007, 03:46 AM   #20
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Beh, dunno if you read her book, but to me there was an offensive and condescending consumerist tone wrapped up in her angst about picking JUST the right ceramic tile and JUST the right antique whatchamacallit. The Italians she came in contact with were just colorful "characters" populating her princess narrative: workers and people she buys things from. In the book you get a lot of bonus material, too, about her fabulous SF house!! Way too "Martha" (Stewart, not OUR Martha) for my taste. She's got a lotta dough and doesn't need low-cost immigrant labor. She seems to have a knack for getting men to be her slaves, though.. in the book her BF, companion, whatever, is a dogsbody.

The olive-picking racket brings to mind Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and the fence.

This is just between you & me, though. Don't wanna burst your son's bubble. He'll figure out his own life lessons!

---
I've read a lot of these ex-pat-in-Italy books. I CAN recommend "Extra Virgin" and Tim Parks' "Italian Neighbors" and "An Italian Education". "Vanilla Beans and Brodo" is also not bad. For a funny (and also mildly egomaniacal) look at things from an Italian's pov: "Too Much Tuscan Sun."

There's also a great tragi-comic fiction, "After Hannibal" that is delightfully mordant.
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