A friend last week after a glass of heavy red wine asked me what had been the most romantic moment of my life. Si tu, Caterina. Yes you, Catherine. You're the one who's travelled the world. You lived in Paris, Milan, then the sticky heat of Africa. Tell me. Dimmi tutto.
I hadn't a clue. I looked up at the building with its fluted edges, the autumn wisteria dropping leaves on the stones at our feet, and fossicked in my favourite handbag from a designer friend.
The thing is, I don't think I am very romantic. There is a stark, no-bullshit Australian side of me that cringes in the light of too much attention. I remember my ex gave me lingerie at the Xmas dinner table (picture the entire Italian family surrounding a skinny Parigina with Annie Lennox hair). I fled to the bathroom. That was when I realised I didn't understand romance, or romance Italian-style.
However in other contexts I confess to turning wishy-washy myself. I remember collecting a mass of scented petals in a park, driving to my lover's house to spread them on his back as he slept. Disappearing. Wanting him to wake up and say, What? How is this?
And then realise.