Thursday, 14 February 2008

13 Things I Learned to Love About Italy

I'll be honest about this - I didn't come to Italy with any "AAaahhh, Italy!" visions in my head. Quite the opposite. I came here because I'd fallen in love with an Italian, and he'd fallen in love with me. That's it.

I didn't speak the language, knew only a little about the culture, and certainly couldn't wear the clothes. I'm no fashion maven, so the styles were beyond me. (At the very least, they weren't my taste. Oh, well.)

I liked the food, though.

So, my tempestuous affections for this place come and go. However, there are a few select things which I always admire/love/adore, and this is my Valentine to my adopted home -

13 Things I Love About Italy

1) The Food. Pasta! Pizza! I dolci! Gelato! If I got down to brass tacks (to mix metaphors a bit), this would be a Thursday Thirteen, of its own...

2) The Art. I've never seen so much nekkididity as I've seen since I arrived in Italy. Hmmm... I sense another future Thirteen topic... Yay!

3) The Language. Okay, to be fair, sometimes, I'm not exactly wild about it. When you're learning and doing a crap job of it, it's hard to love those conjugations and declensions, etc, etc... But I swear, when my hubby is talking to me like I understand him... Yummah! Also, I can sit and listen to Roberto Benigni reciting Dante, and get the strangest, pleased look on my face...

4) The Respect Shown Women. Yeah, we've all heard the horror stories about women being harassed, here. And they're true, by the way. But at the same time, as woman of a certain age (waaaah!) I am more frequently treated with courtesy than as an object. (Waaahaahhh!) I'll get over it. Of course, my age and married status goes a long way toward ensuring a respectful attitude. (That, and the fact that I'm often dealing with upper-management types when I'm working. They know better.)

5) The Tolerance Given Non-Native Speakers of Italian. My grasp of the language is complex. I can read it. I can comprehend most of a given conversation between others. I can almost write a sentence which is comprehensible to a native speaker. My ability to speak, however, is deplorable. So, God Bless 'em for being so forgiving and encouraging. At least, they wait 'til I'm out of earshot before they laugh.

6) The Literature. So far, every Italian author I've read has been an immensely satisfying read. Some are a bit heavy, some are out of my reach, for now. But I've learned a lot, reading their work - I just hope it sticks in my brain and comes out through my pen, too...

7) The Music. I don't mean "O Sole Mio", either. I don't listen to a lot of Italian "pop", but it's incredibly popular in other parts of the world. If you don't mind not understanding the words, it's a great medium. My mother is fanatical about Andrea Bocelli (not my cup of tea, thanks, though he seems a nice enough guy), and I'm madly in love (sorta) with Samuele Bersani (as regular visitors to this blog already know). I also like Subsonica, Elisa, Simone Cristicchi and Gianna Nannini (at least, her more recent stuff). All-time-great artists include: Paolo Conte, Fabrizio de Andre', Mina and Renato Zero.

8) That older gentleman who sings while riding his bicycle. I don't know who this guy is, since he's just an average fellow who lives in my town; but I see him riding his bike every so often, and he's always singing something. Whether it's an old folk song, or a classical piece (yes, from time to time, he's singing something from an opera), he sings, and rides, and just seems generally content with the world as he pedals past me. I have to smile. Wouldn't you?

9) The older ladies on bicycles, too. Alle dubbed them the "Flying Grannies" for my stepfather's edification a couple of years ago, and that's what they do! These little old ladies (of indeterminate age) go zipping by, bags loaded into the baskets on the front and back of their bikes, no helmet, in skirts and "sensible heels" - and boyo, you'd best get out of their way! They're fearless. Or deaf and blind. I'm not sure which.

10) The Predictability of Italian TV News, in general. Everyone goes on holiday in August, on the same day, every year. The evening news reports it as if it's unusual. The weather gets cold in the winter. The evening news reports, "It's Cold!" It gets hot in the summer. The evening news brings such late-breaking reports as "It's Hot!" (I'm not kidding.) Whenever the Pope speaks on a holiday, several channels and news reports broadcast it. Then they ignore him. Wash, rinse, repeat. At least it's entertaining...

11) The Autogrill. Somewhere between a convenience store and a truck stop you find the qualities of an Autogrill. These are service stations similar to those we have on the turnpikes in the US - you can gas up, get a bite to eat in the restaurant, buy a useless souvenir and go to the restroom all in one place. They're usually pretty big, quite clean and well-maintained, but not always. Not a problem. I've never been in one too long - but they'd be a fascinating place to hang out and people-watch...

12) Taking the Train. I know, I know. I bashed the trains in my short story "Almost by Chance - Quasi per Caso", but I really do enjoy them. I like getting on the train (especially in reserved seating) and watching the landscape go by. No worries about driving, traffic or needing to stop at an autogrill to find a restroom. (Though the toilet on a train is potentially terrifying.) Just sit back, hold Alle's hand, and relax. What a great way to travel!

13) The men. What, you thought I'd forget? It wouldn't be Profoundly Shallow without at least a mention! My hubby indulges me in this because he knows it's harmless - I've got crushes on more guys than I can count, right now. One of whom I see a few times a week as I walk to work. The last time I saw him, he was dressed thusly: Black velvet baseball cap, lavender scarf (probably cashmere or something else super-soft), black wool peacoat, blue jeans, black shoes; riding a bicycle. He was Raoul Bova gorgeous, y'all! No exaggeration. Somewhere in town there's a guy who looks like Goran Visnjic from ER (chances are that guy was from Croatia, or something, but still!).

Some days are just a veritable feast for the eyes...






And finally...


















Fabio Cannavaro - Juventus Footballer


Aaahhhh...Italia!

12 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

That was great! I really enjoyed that post (and not just the pictures) *wink*

I would love to visit Italy some day.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I LOVE reading your stuff. This is awesome.
I'm looking forward to that TT on the pasta. I'm curious to know the vast differences between the authentic Italian and the American version.
Terrific as always.
Chaio!

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Ooops CAIO I mean. *sigh* I'm hopeless in a foreign language. LOL.

Buon San Valentino!

Adelle said...

Thanks for giving us a sense of Italy through your eyes.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Alice Audrey said...

I want to see the TT on the art! With pictures. ;D

Shelley Munro said...

I visited Italy quite a while ago now and would love to return. I drank red wine for the first time in Italy in the Chianti region. Good times!
I enjoyed your TT.

Gwen Mitchell said...

Aaaaah is right! *fans self*

But truly, I don't need any more encouragement - it's one of my first stops planned when I win the lottery, or sell a book (whichever comes first..hehe). Nice TT & Happy Vday!

Gina Ardito said...

Oh, God, the INSPIRATION alone would keep me writing for years to come. Lucky lady. Save me a room. I'll be there in June. (Just kidding, but boy! I wish I could.)

Paige Tyler said...

Oooh, I love Italian food!

Happy Valentine's Day!

*hugs*
Paige

My TT is at http://paigetylertheauthor.blogspot.com/

Heather said...

What a great post ~ number eight would certainly make me smile!

Kathleen Oxley said...

I loved this! Nekkididity is an awesome word and I can't wait for that TT post!! Your writing is funny and endearing and a joy to read. Great eye candy too.

~Kat

Dana Belfry said...

Cursive handwriting made my life hell in 4th grade but HELLO Fabio Cannavaro *drool*