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Sunday, July 6, 2008

5 reasons to love Italy

For all my complaining about getting things done here, I still love Italy and after countless trips, it remains one of my most favorite countries in the world. Here are a handful of reasons why:
1. Italian cuisine: it's hard to get a bad meal in Italy. You can get some very average meals, but if you know where to go you can get truly great food - and at low prices. It's hard to say that about many country's cuisine. And then there's the regional variation, and the variety within regions! Deserving of a post on its own.

2. Italian people: passionate, philosophical and polite sums them up in our experience over the years. They're endlessly enthusiastic and animated, thoughtful about every tiny matter, and incredibly courteous. There's nothing like walking out your door only to have the person who meets you in the corridor say buonjourno! How can you not have a good day?

3. History is everywhere: it's not only in the (very fine) museums, but there are very few places in the country you can go without stumbling across medieval castle ruins or a baroque church or a Roman temple, or more recent remnants of history, such as an elegant Fascist era office block. People who are reminded of such a long history each day, live life with a certain pride.

4. Beauty surrounds you: whether it's the fresh produce at a daily market, the idyllic landscapes of the countryside or coast, or beautifully cut fashion in a store window, Italy is both blessed by beauty and the masters of producing beauty.

5. The Italian lust for life: Italy inspires a lust for life in the way few countries do and its people respond with an appropriate way. They may operate at slower pace than the rest of the EU, start work later and take longer lunch hours, and leave as early as they can on a Friday so they can get away for the weekend. But who wouldn't when there's such great food to eat, such fascinating people to meet, such an engaging life to lead, and such beauty everywhere?

8 comments:

Ann said...

Thanks for this list. I had a not-so-great experience in Italy recently and though I know I will go back, I was feeling really down about my trip. Everyone loves Italy and I thought there was something wrong with me. Your list, however, I have to agree with most everything you said. It is an extremely beautiful country with an amazing history.

Tamara said...

I love this post; you have done Italy justice. I know if I go there I would want to stay for an extended period; not just a week. What is your favorite city in Italy?

laradunston said...

Hi Ann - I'd love to hear more about your experience and what went wrong...? Where on earth did you go and what kind of people did you meet?

Hi Tamara - thank you so much for this feedback. It's really appreciated.

My favorite city? I'm torn between Rome and Venice. I know people find Venice so touristy but we once rented an apartment in an old palazzo there one summer and we found ways to avoid the tourists. Terry, for instance, went jogging at 6am when there was not a soul around, not even locals! We took long siestas in the afternoons when
the streets were crowded, and we only ate late - with the Venetians - way in the backstreets, where the menus were only in Italian and there wasn't a tourist in sight. But in Rome it's a little easier to live 'normally' than in Venice. I just find Venice exquisitely beautiful. I'm a fan of Milan too - it's so familiar to me - and Turin.
What about you?

I like your idea of an extended trip too. Terry and I still have another few weeks or so here (which will bring it to a total of 3 months) and yet we're already planning a return trip - we like the idea of living in Rome for a few months, learning Italian properly, and writing. Ahhh... What do you think you'd do on an extended trip?

franki durbin said...

your comment about the Italians... so true. I love their energy, their joy.. their natural curiosity. I have to say I am addicted to their personalities. All this, plus design, history, shopping, architecture and natural beauty as well? This... this is why I love Italy.

terence said...

Ann,

We know how you feel, but in Italy turn over the bad experiences quickly for new ones. I swear that every frustrating experience will be followed by one that restores your faith. If not, change it! Today in Genova we shot photos for the afternoon before welding ourselves to our laptops for the evening even forgoing aperitivo -- basically a crime in the North. Thinking that we'd just grab a quick pizza at 10pm, we remembered a place not far from the hotel where locals only head for lunch or an early dinner. Even though they were about to close, the warm staff cooked us brilliant gnocchi pesto and porchini tagiloloni washed down with a great local white. Total cost Euro 28. Amusingly, Dean Martin played in the background and the staff all sang (for their own pleasure). Faith restored!

Tamara said...

Lara,

Thanks for your information! I would love to go to Venice and it's good to hear you can get away from the tourist experience there. I would also like to visit Sicily, and read more about/possibly visit Sardinia (spelling?).

Tamara said...

*One more thing! If I had an extended trip to Italy, I would love to take some immersive/intensive Italian courses.

- Suzie - said...

Hi Lara,
I just posted about your posts about Calabria... I had that in mind since you told me!
Ciao, and good luck for the next weeks!
saluti