‘The grandeur of the world is a delusion’. Francesco Borromini
In the 17th century, when Borromini wrote this statement, it was common belief that the physical world we live in is only an ephemeral precursor to the reality of heaven beyond. But Italy is somewhat of a liminal space, and with its food, art, and sun it is a country that seems closer to paradise than any other! I meander through each day with eyes wide open, trying to savour as much art, culture and gastronomy as I can. Perhaps I might say my job as an English Teacher is just a way of earning money in order to survive as a traveller, artist and writer. Every weekend I try to explore a new place, and the map below is an indication of what I’ve managed in just over a year. I happen to have a very cooperative and patient Italian boyfriend/personal chauffeur whom I must thank eternally for assisting with my cultural (and alcoholic) education in Italy.
I live in the Veneto, about an hour from Venice, in a small town that claims to be a city. My daily struggles include desperately trying to sleep through the 7am church bells, avoiding a particular old man who is determined to speak English to me but can only say ‘ow are you’, and resisting splashing my salary in the elegant boutiques. My daily joys are coffee, prosecco, and each time I remember I live in Italy! My working day at school doesn’t begin until after lunch, so I spend my mornings having coffee with friends, which is the only entertainment where I live. In the evenings, however, the streets are buzzing with life, and people stay in the bars until the wee hours.
While my daily life does inspire some blog posts (for example Negotiating the Cafe Culture which describes some lessons learnt the hard way) I like to write about the art, culture and history that I find on visits to other places. Sometimes i just want to wax lyrical about the beauty of a hill top village, sometimes I find myself writing about a serious political struggle, and sometimes I want to provide genuinely useful (hopefully) information about places to visit. While I am continuously frustrated by the arrogant patriotism of Italians, I have to admit that one could spend an entire lifetime just exploring this marvellously varied country. The word Italy conjures up images of rolling Tuscan Hills, the heady scent of Sicilian lemons, and the glorious feel of cool water in the baking sun. But Italy boasts terrain from snowpeaked mountains to a desert (really, it’s in Tuscany), architecture from Byzantine to thoroughly Austrian (in Trentino-Alto Adige) and nature including scorpions and flamingos. There is no way to ‘sum up’ Italy, it is simply too diverse. I have an ever growing list of new places to visit here, so the rest of the world will just have to wait for a while.