I don’t believe in past lives, but there is a little italian living inside me. Not LITERALLY, you twisted people. Since That Man’s not italian, that would present something of a problem, yes?
I’ve been fortunate to travel to quite a number of countries in the world, but nowhere speaks to me and feels comfortable in the way that Italy does. Everything Italian – the language, the food, the excess of emotion, the landscape – just feels like it fits to me. Learning the language when I was at school and then at uni felt like pulling on a pair of ugh boots. It was warm, soft and enveloping and the words just wrapped around me. I didn’t want to take them off when the HSC was over. Well, my ugh boots either, for that matter. My language skills these days are pretty shabby, but after a couple of wines in an italian restaurant they seem to spring forth from nowhere, and I end up engaged in discussions with homesick waiters about their homelands. A particularly lovely one two weeks ago invited me to visit him in Calabria later this year when he returns home. Um… about That Man and two children …!!!!
Stuff they get right:
Prosciutto. Antipasto. Tomatoes. Olive oil. Buffalo mozzarella that doesn’t cost $10 per piece. Limoncello. I could eat prosciutto all day every day for the rest of my life. I think easter eggs should be made from prosciutto. Cake should be made from prosciutto. Hell. The harbour bridge could be made from prosciutto, but then they’d have to rope it off with barbed wire or I’d eat my way from one end to the other. Poor piggies. They never saw me coming. If I ever have a night home alone, my ultimate meal involves some pickings of deli meats, good tomatoes, spinach leaves, olive oil, basil, sourdough and some kind of cheese. Party for one. Yum. And for dessert? Stuff dessert. All dessert should be affogato, forever. Coffee, icecream, and frangelico (my preferred liquer for the purpose). The italians are not the best at bureaucratic efficiency, but when it comes to gastronomic genius, it doesn’t get much more streamlined than this.
On the topic of efficiency and streamlining, we are kindred spirits on the notion of caffeine and food as fuel. In Italy, sitting and lingering over a cappucino is a fairly strange notion, with natives preferring it short, black, and taken standing at a bar before they continue their day. Since most of my coffee and, indeed, meals seem to be consumed standing these days while I focus instead on the needs of others (under 1.5 metres tall), I like to think I’m being hip and italian rather than harried and disorganised. Yep. That’s me. Italian mamma.
It sounds like a song. It’s pretty intuitive. It’s sensible, unlike english. And, we’ve already adopted half the words anyway. Cappucino, foccacia, bruschetta, antipasto, pasta, vista etc etc. They seem to know that style even matters in your speech, and I love that.
I can’t help it. I feel naked leaving the house without bling. And tell me, have you ever seen an italian devoid of jewellery of any sort? We are kindred spirits. You don’t really need me to point this out to you, but Gucci, Armani, Prada, Cavalli, Ferragamo and Versace, the best of the best of the best, all hail from Italy. Their style is more bold and colourful on the whole than the French, and I like it.
A friend of mine made the EMINENTLY sensible choice to get married in Lake Como in 2011 for no other reason than that Italy’s awesome, so I was forced, dragged, kicking and screaming by my bestie and thrown on a plane to accompany her on a 2-week child-free girls’ trip. It was awful (ly wonderful). After a few days in Milan, we discovered the joys of the Aperol Spritz, and spent a lazy week by the lake with the wedding party, dipping in to Bellagio and Menaggio from our home in Varenna, a magical place. I learnt to make gnocchi (who knew? I’m a natural!!) and perfected my ability to eat my body weight in gelato. The sales were on in Milan. A happy coincidence. We saw Aida in Verona in the original open-air Roman amphitheatre, which ended dramatically around 1am when we were washed out by a torrential thunderstorm.
They get plenty wrong too. Living there is a bureaucratic nightmare, and driving there? Just don’t. Berlusconi needs no mention, unless anyone is fond of a bunga bunga party and wants to impart the true meaning… I think we’re still all a little unsure. It’s Australia for me, all the way, but Italy remains number 1 on my holiday destination list.