Ten Reasons I'm Going to Miss Italy
10. The Traffic. People may be driving-retarded here (stay tuned for upcoming list: 10 Reasons Why I Won't Miss Italy), but at least they're all in a hurry and they move. Fast. I didn't realize how much I appreciated the expediency of Italian driving until I was back in the US in June, stuck behind the biggest cars, manned by the slowest drivers, taking their sweetest time. Here, those little hatchbacks fly around the city, and people really understand urgency. You'll swear the whole way to where you're going, but it'll only take about 10 minutes.
|This might look dire, but you'll get through it in minutes on a scooter.|
9. The Gelato. I still haven't managed to go back to La Fata Morgana. Tsk tsk, Julia! I will miss the creamy (but low fat!) deliciousness, in all sorts of wonderful and original flavors. Lime Bergamot, Honey, and Caramel Meringue... come to America with me?
My friend Domina, enjoying a giant Gelato at Piazza Risorgimento
8. The Coffee. I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but man is this stuff good. I got dangerously close to an addiction my first few months here (I was consuming about 5 espressos a day - which actually might explain how I lost 20 lbs in 2 months), but once I became a little more reasonable (and put the weight back on, boo), I've come to appreciate it for what it is: little intervals of pleasure, interspersed throughout the week.
A typical breakfast Cappuccino
7. The People. In the private sense (I'll explain what I hate about the "public sense"of people in the next list). They are warm, caring, accommodating, and they always try to make you feel like part of the family - not in the corny Prego Italian Pasta Sauce commercial way, but in the sincere, welcoming way that makes you realize that it's a real pleasure for them to have your company.
6. The Scenery. Italy, and Rome in particular, is beautiful. Yes there's some smog, and some trash lying around, but where else can you drive around the corner coming home from work and suddenly find yourself face to face with the Colosseum, or St. Peter's. What a beautiful country.
The Roman Forum
Smack in the middle of a dirty, smoggy city - not too shabby, eh?
5. The Cars. There is the occasional Jeep or Hummer (and I always curse them to never find parking), but Rome is mostly filled with little cars, many of them luxury (little mini BMWs, Alfas, Benzes), who fit so perfectly with the spirit of the city. You'll see your average business man, all important looking, coming out of a million euro deal, and instead of getting into his huge I'm-a-big-man SUV, he'll get into a little three door Alfa Romeo hatchback, where he literally has to fold himself up to fit inside. Is it emasculating because it's so small and powerless looking? No. It's small, parkable, efficient, and most importantly, fast. Those little cars can run. And the vintage cars? Well, that's a whole other reason to love this city.
|Me hugging a teal Fiat 500 in Manciano, Tuscany. So cute!|
4. The Parks. Once upon a time, Rome used to be populated by a ton of poor people and the occasional filthy rich family who owned the equivalent of a park in private land. At some point in recent history, these properties became public (the families died off, or lost their power and money), and were transformed into parks, filled with museums, cinemas, zoos, and other public attractions.In Villa Borghese, there's even a hot air balloon! The grounds of the Villas are incredibly well maintained, and they are open to everyone. And they are all over the city.
Villa Pamphilij, and the maze garden
(my future house...someday)
3. The Historic Center of Rome. I can walk through Piazza Navona, or Piazza di Spagna, or the Pantheon, or Fontana di Trevi hundreds of times (God knows I have) and never get tired of bored. The tourists are a little tiring, but they're also part of the atmosphere. Those places (and all the less famous, but no less beautiful ones) have an aura of untouchable history and beauty that will never wear off, no matter how many Japanese tourists take group photos, or how many obese Americans abandon their McDonald's wrappers, or how many punky Italian adolescents litter their hang out spot with cigarette butts. These places are immune to modernity, and you feel it every time you walk through them.
|The Pantheon by Night|
2. The Food. Prosciutto di Parma, Pomodorini Pachino, Mozzarella di Bufala, Bucatini all'Amatriciana, Gnocchi Quattro Formaggi, Fettuccine Carbonara, Patate al Forno, Affettati Rustici, Pizza e Mortadella, Pastiera Napoletana, Cannoli Siciliani, Ravioli alla Zucca, Gnocchi Burro e Salvia, Arrosticini, Porchetta, Carne alla Brace. Have I said enough?
|Prepared for and totally undaunted by the 10 or so dishes in Frascati|
1. My Family. Both of my parents immigrated to the US in their twenties, ostensibly just to study, but then they never left! So both of my extended families--except for an aunt--all live in Europe. This time I've spent in Rome has given me the chance to really spend time with and get to know my father's family, whom I was so lucky to be able to see every summer growing up, but whom I've really only even spent time with one month out of each year--and when everyone was on vacation! Now I've seen my cousins in their school/work environment, I've had countless casual dinners with my aunts and uncles at home. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to spend two and a half years with some of my favorite people in the world!
|Christmas Dinner 2007, at the "kids" table.|