Most days I leave my house knowing at least once I will have the following conversation:
Italian stranger: “why do you live in Italy? How could you leave Australia, your country is paradise.”
Me: “Have you ever been to Australia?”
Italian stranger: “No”.
Need I go on.
During my time in Italy, one thing that I have learnt is that I come from a land full of rainbows and lollipops and that Italy is a terrible terrible place and I must run, RUN to save myself. – oh, relax!
There is only so many times that you can bear to hear the same negative question without becoming a little more negative yourself.
Italians may seem like a relaxed bunch, but my god are they can be a bit of a negative Nellie at times! So blind to the country they live in, seeing Italy as the worst place on earth, and spending their days with pointless conversations of how they have to leave.
Around the world, especially during times of crisis, Australia has begun to become more and more appealing to foreigners, especially here in Italy. Comments such as “you don’t have a crisis there do you” – yes, we are so isolated that there is absolutely no way an economic crisis could find us – “All Australians surf don’t they?” – mmm very true, you should see my grandma on her short board – “Australians never work” – Yes, yes, please go on, tell me more, you are doing such a terrific job describing my country.
Recently I have begun to get a little bit ‘edgy’ when I am asked these questions; and every now and then I respond a little harshly (I am in your shop to buy bread, not for an half hour lecture about why I need to leave Italy and go back to Australia. Thank you for ruining my morning!). I know that there are some negatives here in Italy, but there is some in Australia too. Both countries are beautiful places for different reasons.
I love Italy for a variety of reasons; firstly, traveling within Italy is incredibly diverse. Each region contains something different, changes in the food, the landscape and even the language. In some areas, italian dialects are still used amongst the elder generations. The pace of the people change from those in the North to those in the South. Traditions vary from towns to cities to regions, and everyone always comes to celebrate, young or old. If you live in the mountains and want a day by the water, jump in the car and you are on the beach (not just any beach, the ligurian coast) or a lake (um, that would be Lake Garda or Lake Como).
Italy is in a fantastic location. In Australia, in four hours I can travel from Melbourne to Perth. Being here in Italy, four hours would see me arrive to Morocco, in one hour I could be in France and two hours England. If I want to drive to Switzerland I can; I can also catch the train to almost anywhere in Europe – not that I need to… For a weekend away, why not make your way to Florence, Venice or Rome!
I was never a huge fan of gelato, I am now obsessed. A steaming hot bowl of comforting pasta, with each region boasting their local twist, what gets better than that? The food markets are full of some of the best produce I have tasted (tomatoes!), full of flavour that is difficult to find elsewhere; do not even get me started on the cheese.
Who ever says that you don’t eat well in Italy was obviously visiting the wrong places. Just ask a local and they will point you in the right direction.
They also love celebrating food, a sagre is like a mini festivals for food; Asparagus, polenta, mushrooms, truffles, chestnuts, chocolate – you name it, the Italians will have a festival for it.
Never did I think I would say it, but, soccer. You have to admire the Italians and their passion for their national sport. The excitement for a goal and the celebrations for a win! Two years ago I was amongst italians to watch a soccer game on a big screen – I can’t tell you which as I was only vaguely interested at the time – Italy won, they were going to play in the finals. This was the same night I saw a policeman drive back and forth through a street blocked with hooligans, an italian flag strapped to the back of his motorbike – possibly one for the negative list?
The list goes on, there is fashion, traditions, culture, churches (if you like them), hand gestures, coffee, wine, did I mention the italians ability to celebrate almost anything? and so much more. I love living here, of course I have my moments too, but sometimes you have to take it how it is, accept the good with the bad, perhaps open your eyes to your surroundings! I will continue to rant each day until I start hearing a little bit more love for the country that is shaped like a boot.
This was needed, but next post on food, I promise.