I’ve never been to Italy. It’s one place I’d love to go to. So many people I know have either lived there for a short period, studied there or visit on a regular basis. I can’t speak Italian, though I’ve tried several times to learn it. I’m not a natural linguist. I just feel bad going somewhere where I can’t speak a word of the language. Perhaps the key is to take yourself off there, immerse yourself in the culture, and let the language suddenly seep through your skin.
Of course with programmes like Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s A Trip to Italy and films such as Eat, Pray, Love Italy has always featured as one of those places that you need to go to. Add to that all the other shows that potray Italy as this sun-kissed, food-obsessed, slow-paced idyll and you wonder why I haven’t had my fill. But Italy still draws me. It still has this hold on me. There’s something about the culture that attracts me. Maybe it’s the history? Maybe it’s the beautiful countryside? Maybe it’s the food?
It’s the food, of course. Definitely the food (and a bit of the countryside and culture too). Italians take food very seriously, like the French and Spanish do. They love to spend time eating, drinking, and talking about food and drink. I’m sure supermarkets and fast food is still an issue but when it comes to home cooking, the Italians seem to be in a league of their own.
There’s more to the cuisine than pasta and pizza too. Every region has its own delicacies (I think my visit might have to last a year). Every town has its own version of the regional dish. Every family has its take on what makes the best version.
I’d love to go and sample risotto in Venice, pizza in Naples, drink a glass of wine in the Piedmont, and sit in a café in Florence watching the world go by. Even as I’m writing this, I can feel the sun on my back and hear the clink of wine glasses. It’s 11 o’clock in the morning and I’m already making myself hungry.
This trip has to happen. It’s essential. I’m open on recommendations of where to go and what to see. More importantly, of course, I’m hugely interested to know what to eat and where to find it. Italy here we come.
Until next time, arrivederci!