So after our lovely wedding we got to take a trip to what my wife and I both consider a home away from home – Italy. During our undergraduate studies in architecture, Annie spent a semester in Rome and I spent a semester in Florence. We thought it would be fun to show each other how we lived in our respective cities.
It didn’t take long after we stepped off the Eurostar from Rome to Florence for me to remember that distinct Florentine smell of street sweeper and grungy appearance of the train station piazza primarily from an abundance of pigeons. I loved it. I got in trouble with the wife for leading us a bit too far east away from the hotel, but I just had to get my eyes on the Duomo again. It is just the most remarkable church tucked tightly in a piazza, with a fascinating mixture of tourists, locals, and students all hours of the day.
Once that excitement wore off and we kept lugging our bags to the hotel, it sank in how tight the roads and sidewalks were. They are both frustrating and intriguing. Navigating between fast paced locals, projecting cast iron window security grilles, and Vespas is an art form.
Maybe I’m a bit odd, but the immersion of oneself in a foreign culture is more beautiful to me than an exotic beach. The constant sensory overload might be what intrigues me so much.
Along the 11 day trip in both cities, I came up with a mental list of other reasons I love Italy:
-It is unbelievably, unfathomably old.
-Once you find your way through the veil of Tourist Italy, the food is unmatched. Had meals that were a disgrace to food in general, but also had the finest piece of beef I’ve ever eaten…with a juniper berry wine sauce.
-Inside city walls, it looks like new building construction has not happened since before our Declaration of Independence. So refreshing. Interiors, yes, but great to NOT see a bunch of enviro-minimal infill buildings all over the place. How a Ben and Jerry’s got next to the Duomo though, is truly a sin that someone shouldn’t have committed =). Almost as bad as the McDonald’s across from the Pantheon.
-It is inherently romantic. It doesn’t try to be, it just is.
-Despite the fact the culture appears to have no apparent future or indication that many people work all day, they are far ahead of us in terms of transportation and health. I think the reason why people perceive Europeans as so attractive starts with the fact they are all a normal size. They walk…everywhere. Your feet take a beating, but you feel great when you walk a few miles a day to get around. And if we in America had anything even in the same universe as their train system, the US economy would be entirely different. Baffles me every time.
I think I’ve had my fill of Italy for a bit now, but it sure was a magnificent place for a honeymoon. Despite all of the things I saw new and saw again, it renewed my appreciation for what we have back here at home. Sure, there are things I wish we had here in the US, but coming home we were so grateful to have the things and the freedoms we have here at home.
And given the date of this post- I’ll end it with a sincere thanks to our troops and veterans who protect this lovely place we call home.