Italy has spoiled me rotten. I’ve gained the fifteen pounds I recently lost during my travels (and I couldn’t care less). I would die (happily) of a clogged artery if I lived here full time, I think- because I have no self control. The food is just…what’s a better word than delicious? Irresistible. The prosecco in Sorrento, the pizza in Naples, the gelato in Rome. I am Liz Gilbert in the “Eat” section of Eat, Pray, Love, except I’ve found love too (with a pizza) and I also pray to give thanks for such a magical place on Earth. I’m doing it all in one country, and it is fabulous. Oh, and I’ve got a pretty nice Mediterranean tan going. Italian life is good.
This country is full of pleasure. The local people are incredibly charming- the confident and beautiful women dressed to the nines (and the female obsessed men), the meticulously detailed chefs with mind blowing dishes served up and baristas who make your cappuccino a beautiful work of art- you’ll never want American coffee again. Even the people working at train stations and bus stops seem to have such a sense of pride. There’s an aura of confidence and self-respect that Italian people put off. I hope it’s rubbing off on me- I think it is because I feel great. Italy injects life into you. All I can say is Italians…just do it better.
The FOOD- You’ve surely heard this before, but it just can’t be expressed enough. You think you’ve had pizza, until you visit Naples- the original pizza inventors. How did we venture so far from the original pizza? At home we drench pizza in ranch dressing and ample toppings, while authentic pizza is actually on thin crust, tastes juicy and melts in your mouth. You can eat an entire pizza in five minutes, easy.
Around Italy you will find countless street markets and fruit stands. Take advantage! I’ve eaten so much produce, I’ve craved it everyday. The tomatoes are ridiculously good. Never have I wanted to eat a tomato whole on it’s own, but I can’t get enough of them here. Maybe it’s their lack of chemical enhancement and acidity? Produce in general is very good in Italy, and around the same price as at home in California if not cheaper.
Oh, did I mention the gelato? THE GELATO!!!
Wine- Unbelievable. It’s cheaper, it’s better, it’s part of daily life. Wherever you eat lunch or dinner, order the house vino blanco and you will be a happy diner. Usually at home when you order the house wine, it’s crap. Not here. You really can not go wrong, even with the cheapest varietals. I’ve bought a liter of wine for under two euro, and you really can’t beat that. Especially when it tastes like what would be a $20 bottle at home. Coming from the Bay Area, near Napa where wine is over priced, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot and feel the need to drink as much as possible while I’m here. It’s all about value, right? Excuse number one hundred for being a wino, at present.
Men– They LOVE women and they make sure you know it. Never have I gotten so much attention and compliments. Some say they are inappropriate and overtly sexual, which is probably true, but how refreshing it is to see such appreciation for women. Yes, some of the men are a little too in-your-face, but the majority of them just want to express their appreciation of your beauty and to tell you so. “Ciao bella!” is much better than the coos at home like “Hey, girl. How you doin’?” Ill take the Italian catcalling over that of the Bay Area anyway. Just sayin.
Clothes- These are the best dressed people I have ever seen in my life. Everything pressed, matching and beautiful. High heels and shined dress shoes walk the streets up and down the hills and stairs like it’s nothing. Yesterday I saw a woman riding a vespa with high heels on. What a bad ass.
Language- Every word sounds like a piece of artwork. The way they speak with such gusto and hand gestures is charming and exciting at the same time. I love the way they talk to each other and express themselves so passionately. Italian makes some other languages sound dull and boring, but I’m not naming names.
Life Balance- They have their priorities straight. Life and pleasure come first, not work. Americans: we need to take a cue from the Italians in this sense. While it can be frustrating as a traveler to not understand the local schedules, there is something to be said for the way Italians put their well being first. You won’t be able to go into a shop in the middle of the afternoon, as they are closed for their “riposo” and you won’t find much of anything open on a Sunday. Life does not start and end with work in Italy. Actually, Europe in general seems to view work as a more of means to an end, compared to Americans who are trained to identify with their work and place it as a top priority. At least that was my experience.
When I have asked people I’ve met along the way if they liked their jobs most of them have responded ambivalent saying “I suppose. It is just a job.” This was true even for people I met with high profile, well paid jobs- the ones the average American would kill to have and then prioritize over their friends and family. The truth is, the people I asked do not identify with their work or think of it as their life, but rather a way to support their real life. You ask them what they do and they don’t assume you’re asking about work. They respond with what they do for fun. This has opened my eyes immensely. We should work to live, not live to work. We should remember to live.
The Mediterranean Sea- Sure this is not exclusive to Italy, but my God do the people living on the Italian coasts have it good. The sea is always perfect temperature and the water is clearer than any water you can find stateside. Nothing is better than a dip in the sea followed by local gelato down the street. I was lucky enough to spend time in The Gulf of Naples on the south coast and Cinque Terre on the northern coast. I highly recommend you see both!
Life is absolutely beautiful and Italy reminded me of a thousand reasons why. I encourage everyone to visit this beautiful country and indulge in a little more of…more. I’m so glad I did! I’m revived with life and full of love for this country and all that comes with it.