Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whatsa Matter, You Donta Lova Your Momma?



That is the cry of the dejected street vendors in the squares of Rome. How can you not love it?

I have finally found the quintessential Europe that all Americans envision. I knew it had to exist. Stereotypes are never formed out of complete fabrication. That place, that little slice of heaven on the European continent, is Italy. I am hooked.

Only twice have I visited a place and felt such an envy. The first was Bangkok. The second Rome. A feeling of looking through the glass window into to an exclusive club where I could never gain membership. All this was their birthright. Oh, please let reincarnation be real and let me come back an Italian.

Long leisurely breakfasts on rooftop gardens leading to long leisurely dinners at outside sidewalk trattorias, fashionistas at every turn, sun, citrus and that intangible Italian spirit pervades every intoxicating breath of air. Instantly, their happiness is palpable and, like all moods, it is contagious.

Wisecracking and curious waiters are part of the ambiance. By the end of your time here, I guarantee you'll be saying things like "Mamma Mia" (yes, they really do say this) and "Prego". Instantly, you understand New York City and the obvious impact Italians have had on the NYC culture. The service is excellent in every capacity. Fashion smart sales clerks in three simple moves take the jacket you are trying on from drab to high chic. "How did she do that you ask yourself", as you tell her, "I'll take it, how could I not?"

Might I add: best.shoes.ever!?


Perfect moments are easy to come by in Italy. They are like busses, if you miss one, just wait, another will come in fifteen minutes. Close your eyes and imagine shop owners on lazy Sunday mornings cleaning their windows listening to some forlorn Italian opera telling the tale of unrequited love, open shuttered windows with Italian grandmothers banging clean rugs while conversing with a street side neighbor, meandering alleyways of cobblestone echoing Italian love songs or threesomes of portly, older Italian men in hats and with cane, sipping tiny black expressos while passing the time playing cards. It is all that and more.

Affordable too. Ofcourse, Italy has it's welfare state but like all of the more rebellious southern European countries, a good third of the country performs business through the "back door". It is estimated 25%-30% of the Italian economy is blackmarket. To a newly transformed anarcho-capitalist as myself, I say "Viva la Italy-bring it all down, man". The black market distorts things a bit and adds downward pressure to prices. Coming from Stockholm, it was a bargain hunters dream.

Noticeably reduced is that, "gotta get mine first" mindset I find so prevalent in collectivist societies. "Scusi" abounds. Yes, they really say excuse me when they brush up against you or inadvertently bump shoulders. What a novel concept. Doors are held open and heavy arms eased with willing assistance. Smiles and dancing eyes tell the tale of a life to be enjoyed, not endured.


Of course, the food. You'd really have to work hard to have a bad meal. Fresh handmade pastas, seafood, pizzas, carafes of red wines, gelatos to die for, lasagnes, my personal favorite-gnocchi's, and all affordable. None of this, Scandinavia, needing to take out a small loan for dinner for four.

This was also only Rome. I can only imagine it improves from here in the smaller more out of the way destinations.

3 comments:

  1. I have always wanted to visit Italy more than any other place in Europe because of the landscape, food, art, buildings and climate. I am glad your trip was wonderful. Angela

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  2. Have you been to Greece yet? You need to if you haven't.

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