– Contributed by Wee C
Il mio amore. My love. Italia.
To know me, one of the few things you must quickly come to learn is my deep and intense love of all things Italian. There’s no rational reason why I should love it as much as I do. I don’t have bloodlines that originate from there (have you seen my fair skin, freckles and blue eyes?). I’ve not married into an Italian family (I love my husband, I love my husband, I really do love my husband…). Nor have I spent any longer than three weeks there at any given time (despite having tried to lock myself in the hotel bathroom in a desperate attempt to stay). But for some inexplicable reason, one fleeting thought of Italy at any given moment yields a peace and joy that few other things can provide in my life. So I figure I might as well indulge myself and get the “this is why I love Italy” post out of the way so that I don’t have to feel compelled to write it every time I attempt to craft a new blog post. You all will thank me for this later. There are three simple reasons why I can’t get this place out of my head:
1. Food and wine is consumed for delight, not for sustenance. Italians eat without conscience or concern. Through food, they feed their hearts more than their stomachs. At home, 90 per cent of the time we eat with our head and to feed our stress. And the wine in Italy? You drink it not for the alcohol, but because wine is the purest and most internalized consumption of art. On our last trip to Italy, I ate more than I would ever normally eat at home, and lost 5 lbs. I can’t help but believe there’s something more to the way Italians eat than food energy alone.
2. Italy gives me a sense of place and time. In North America, our surroundings are young. It’s easy to feel as though your time – today – is the world’s most important. And why not? We’re making enormous leaps every single day that seem to put a stake in the ground and suggest that nothing, at any time, has ever been as significant. But in Italy, your place in time, in history, provides perspective. Through this perspective, your sense of importance shifts. The world has not begun with you, nor will it end with you…and how dare you be so self-centered to have ever entertained the thought?! As you look around you, you realize that as you walk through the streets in Rome or busy yourself at the Duomo in Florence, you are in the shadows of a story that is so much bigger than your own. From the humble hillside Tuscan towns to the grandeur of Vatican City, you are walking alongside the ghosts of historical, cultural and spiritual giants. It gives you context and diminishes your sense of self-importance. And suddenly, the mistake you made at work, or the bill you forgot to pay on time seems inconsequential…and the fact that you every worried about it is ridiculous. And let’s be honest…at home, I cannot stop wallowing in every mistake I’ve ever made, every person I’ve disappointed, every failure that prevents perfection. So the context and reality check that Italy provides me is freeing; like a big deep breath after suffocation.
3. Italy is a country of artisans. Every person, from the butcher to the high-fashion designer, considers their work an art. Quality over quantity is the priority. Everything that you see, eat, smell, touch, hear or wear, that has been produced in Italy, feels as though it is done with the single-minded goal of enhancing the seemingly endless beauty that surrounds the people of this country. How could you not love a place that protects beauty and art as if it’s a newborn child?
And so, after two trips to Italy (both of which seem far too long ago), I not only solidified my affinity, I fell in love. I truly love this country, its people, its landscape, its history, its story. The desire to go back overwhelms me almost every single day. But, I suppose, it wouldn’t be true love if that wasn’t the case.