I arrived on a sunny august afternoon with plans of staying not more that 3 years, just what (I thought) it took to finish my BA and here I am, 10 years later, still happy with my choice.
Coming from a country with a single rail line which is hundreds of kilometers from where I lived and not being able to drive with gears, train travel became my favorite. Oh, the incredible landscapes I saw on my trips in Regionali trains! Poppies blooming, sunflower fields, green hills, sharp rocks, beautiful towns on hilltops, old people sitting in the stations just watching trains pass...
Then I discovered food; but not only the great pleasure of eating it, I am actually finding more and more pleasure in the process of preparing it: at home, together with G, dividing the tasks without speaking, sipping a glass of good wine, decorating, finding new tastes... and 10 years ago the only food I knew how to cook was ham sandwiches!
What has happened in these 10 years? too many things to tell! new currency, new governments, a soccer world cup, a financial crisis, 9/11, etc. I loved Italy from day one, and even if the beginning wasn't easy (new language, new culture, new people, new values), here's my top ten of the things I love about it:
1. Food - what can I say, I'm lucky to live in one of the countries with the best food in the world
2. Fashion - it just makes my day to window-shop in via Montenapoleone
3. Landscapes - some just leave you breathless
4. the care of the body and the mind - not many cultures pay as much attention to the care of the body like Italians, and they sure know how to enjoy life
5. Rome - the most beautiful city in the world
6. Wine - Franciacorta, pinot noir vineyards in Trentino, the great (almost unknown) Verdicchio... the happiness when I recognize a scent in the wine I'm tasting...
7. Love for the animals - Italy might not be considered very civic-oriented, but the love and respect of animals that they have here makes it a country with a high level of social conscience that I admire.
8. Lyric Opera - one of the moments that gave me goosebumps: listening to "Nessun Dorma" (Turandot) at the Arena in Verona
"...Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona,
mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
che, come vedi, ancor non m'abbandona..."
need I say more???
10. Living the rural life - for a city girl like me the first shot of Castelraimondo (the 4000-inhabitants-town I lived in for almost 6 years) was shocking: an empty train station on a Sunday afternoon with two old guys chatting in an incomprehensible dialect, no cars passed by in 30 minutes... But I learned to value it: the silence, the peace, waking up to the sound of birds singing, opening the window and watching the green hills that surround the town, walking to work saying hi to at least 3 people on the street, fresh vegetables, homemade wine (actually, almost everything I ate was homemade)... just priceless!
So, grazie Italia!