As my blog post last week moaned and moaned about the disturbing state of contemporary Italian politics, I wanted to write something positive about La Dolce Vita in this blessed environment. Sometimes, I really need to convince myself that there are unwavering reasons why I should remain here. I shall think up a few.
The first time I came to Italy I was a prim Aussie uni student on a Eurailpass who fed her eyes on shoes (more later on that) and museums and architecture. Coming from a country with a dodgy colonial history of convicts and oppression - a history more whispered by the land than announced by architecture, I gazed over facades and domes and marble and fountains and sculpted gardens, giddy with delight.
But I remember finding Italy overwhelming. The ornamentation, the fancy dressing, the flirty guys on vespas. I suppose you could say my first reactions were like those of my character Marilyn, who was shocked by the constant 'checking out' by both men and women sweeping along beside her. Now I'm pretty bad at it myself. In fact, in the bar the other day when I treated myself to some non-driving time, I told GG to get out of the way so I could check out the midday dude swarms in the piazza. There are aeons of them swanning around the piazzas in Armani and sunlamp tans, RayBans hooked around their faces. Oh dear, I am lapsing! I have accepted that vanity is a national trait. Is this the trade-off for the pitch-perfect wine in a divine setting?
I make no excuses for grounding my patchy love of Italy firmly upon my passion for well-crafted shoes. No excuses. It would kill me to leave what I love with such searing ardour. I would have to wed a shoemaker, have him trained by Gucci, supervise leather acquisition and the dosage of dyes. Nah! I'll just wait for sales time again. I do wish I could pretend to be less shallow.
Ones of the marketing straplines for my book has been about the 'transition by espresso' that Marilyn undergoes. I didn't grow up on coffee and was strictly anti-coffee while a young adult. Then I went to Ethiopia. Discovered buna. Oh Lord! Went through the whole coffee bean selection/roast with frankincense/boiling and filtering - until that wonderful moment when taste and aroma joined forces at your lips. I fell hard for coffee. In Italy too, the right beans send me into ecstasy, making me crave the smoky slow Ethiopian ritual, but hell it can be good! (I also blame an older local relative for introducing me to the local poison caffè corretto - a blast of coffee injected with a shot of grappa. Poor Marilyn is introduced to this by a cheeky Australian friend, let no names be mentioned.)
Apart from the orgasmic dimensions of architectural and foodie and musical delights, Italy is also stunningly diverse in its natural features. I confess I'm more into roaring fires and funny beanies than string bikinis on the beach. My favourite winter hide-out starts here.
Fifty Shades of the Purest White.
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P.S. I'd be very grateful if any of you who enjoy the blog would like to jot down a comment on the expatsblog.com site, where I'm in the running for an award this December. Mille grazie!