Italy is an idea, an image, a lifestyle. Italy is art and Italy is architecture…innovations and experiments. It has also been defined by conflict and by plague. Italy is a sum of its past and its present, of its conquests and its defeats…of dreams that span millennia. People are drawn to Italy for its monuments, for the achievements of human endeavor. But what strikes me year after year as I return to il bel paese, is something that seems so small in comparison to the Coliseum or Michelangelo’s David, but something that contains all that has come before it; I am most drawn to Italy’s humanity. The stereotypes contain some truth: the emotionalism, warm and fiery, the slow sensuality, the musicality of the language. When I arrive, I must remember to walk more slowly, to devote more time to meals, to take everything a bit less seriously.
Yes, it’s all about the people. Italians understand how to find pleasure and meaning not only in their own grand accomplishments, but in the most mundane activities…walking through the center of town just to say hello to other people, to try a new flavor of gelato, to share a coffee or a glass of wine. Italians are quite insistent. If I try to go to fast, if I forget to look my neighbor in the eye, if I fail to find the humor in the comedy of life itself, they will be patient…up to a point…
”Edmund, calmati…be calm.”