Arrivederci ItaliaPosted: April 14, 2011
Never would I refer to Italy as being a small country. Whilst 25 Italies can fit into Australia, 3 times as many people live here. In 2 months we had not made it south of Rome, in 3 months we have traveled the length and back and still have so much to see and do. We have not visited a major city and have seen very little art. The longer we spend in an area the more we realize there is to see and do there.
Much has surprised me about Italy. I was not expecting it to be so thick, so dense and so full of contradictions. Flat, sparse, marshes of the Po Valley “Breadbowl”, stretching from the Adriatic Sea to Tuscanny; the brooding, blackish, brown mountain forests of Marque and Abruzzo; the crisp white alps on the northern border; green rolling countryside in the middle. Teeming with life in many places, others shut, closed for business, isolated and deserted. Too old to rebuild, yet too old to demolish.
Certainly the Italians we have spent time with are industrious and motivated. Its not enough to be a musical theater director, you also restore a farm and open a Cultural Center; not enough to have a successful walking tour business, lets turn our home into a B&B! Why just have a thriving apple business when you can buy and run the hotel next door? Even those retired have chooks for meat and eggs, a veggie garden, homemade pasta sauces, grappa and lemonchello. We met the widow of Antonio’s godfather over a fence in Maniago. I thought she looked really old until she came closer to us, her step was slow but her face had been slow to wrinkle and her eyes had the sparkle of a 20 year old. She had her veggie garden and despite the haranguing of her daughter still loved to go to the forest to collect mushrooms and nuts. She also kept chickens, and ducks, and 4 miniature goats that she, herself, would slaughter for meat.!!
There are somethings, uniquely Italian that I could do without. The Autostrada on any day bar Sunday when trucks are banned from the road and a bureaucracy that created 6 appointments when only one would do. But there is much, much more that I will miss. The food, or especially their love of the food; pasta; family and the spidery web of extended family; church bells that with serendipity, rang many times as we arrived in a village (good luck they say, which of course, in our case is true – who could be luckier than us?); the ongoing controversy of Berlusconi; words ending in a, e, i, o and u; simple hand gestures that express a thousand words; a 2 finger chuff under the chin – “who cares!!” An index finger swiveled into the cheek beside the back teeth, “sweet” or “really good” usually referring to food. Stone village after stone village perched on hills.
Arrivederci Italia! We will return.