In Italian music, you can pick and choose from a lovely selection of solo male singers (often coming off of X Factor Italia or similar shows like Amici). Never been a huge fan of this one, Marco Mengoni, but his latest single is gorgeous and I think easy to understand if you're studying Italian. The video was filmed in Ireland, so it goes along nicely with my photographs from this past summer. In Italian, there's an expression used which is 'ti voglio bene' (which is the song title, just in the past tense), the non-equivalent equivalent of "I love you" that is not the same as "ti amo". Searching high and low, I've come to the conclusion there's no easy way to explain it- it's a version of those three little words that can be used between friends (whereas English speakers say "I love you" all the same). Italians save their "ti amo" for very intimate, profound relationships perhaps? Truthfully, it's probably best this way. The song is basically about how distraught he is after separating from someone and goes on a long trip (Ireland qualifies I guess) to forget her, but obviously can't because everything reminds him of her. It's one of those rather heart-wrenching songs that is somehow wrongly romantic because every woman wants to ruin a man this bad. I know, so selfish of us.
I think it's quite obvious from my writings that I'm a full-blown sap. Hopeless romantic right here, always have been, always will be. After a million hellos and goodbyes, teary mascara-smeared embraces, cheesy balloons and handwritten signs, I've come to adore that intro and closing bit of Love Actually more than ever. You know which scene I'm talking about, the airport one. I was reminded of that today because of an article seemingly completed off-topic and unrelated that's currently blowing up The New York Times as I type this: On Tinder, Off Sex by Rachel Pearl. Read it here. Anyways, there was an excerpt I had to pull to share here:
He photographed me while I packed my clothes, and I remember him telling me that airports are romantic because they’re where people come to understand what they feel about each other.
What do you think? I'm definitely in agreement. It's quite possible that the hardest pull I've ever felt on my heartstrings was at Milano Malpensa, almost 8 years ago next February. Tiziano Ferro provided the solemn, yet somehow terrifyingly appropriate soundtrack to our parting- me back to Canada, Massi indefinitely in Italy. I remember it like it was yesterday - il regalo più grande was the song, the greatest gift. And you don't need much of an imagination to pinpoint what the song refers to.
Since starting the blog, I've had the privilege to get to know many fellow "italophiles" from around the world. It's such a unique experience to be able to share our mutual love (and sometimes hate) for all things Italy and Italian and I've longed to bridge the gap and share readers stories with, well, other readers. I am titling this "Readers Share the #Italy Love", so feel free to search that for similar pieces in the future. The inaugural post goes to Grace, here is a snippet from one of her e-mails to me:
I rent a small studio apartment on Piazza San Antonino whenever I'm in Sorrento. I've become part of the neighborhood. There's a small restaurant right next door and I have gotten to know the owner, Dino, and he, me! I walk in and just say "Ho fame!" He knows "my pizza" because he knows I can't eat certain cheeses. He knows I like very little sauce on my pasta. He knows That I want salad and bread. We are friends. We chat in a mixture of Italian and English while I wait for my food. We both enjoy the moment. It's a neighborhood...the coffee bar, fruit store, grocery, etc...I love being a part of "the flow of life". I know so well that almost giddy feeling that you described about meeting people in the piazza for drinks...I get the same feeling...I'm in Italy and I'm part of the fabric of life in Sorrento! I love waking up every morning and making my espresso and deciding what I want to do...should I hop on the fast ferry and have lunch on Capri. Should I get on the bus and visit Ravello for the day? Decisions and choices...I am so lucky! - Grace
If you're a reader or you've randomly stumbled here or you're just an all-around ITALOPHILE like us, send me an e-mail, tell me your story and I'd love to feature it here. It can even be a wee anecdote like Grace's, an experience you had in Italy in just a few sentences.
Just got back from going to pick-up my pizza in the pouring rain. I walked there since it's just down the block. When I arrived, I was greeted by smiles and the faces of the family that I've come to know over the past ten months.They know "my" pizza. We chatted awhile while the son fired it in a traditional wood-burning over. Funny something so simple really defines life in Italy and why it is so darn appealing (addictive?) and good for the soul. Whether or not you can see the beauty in this small anecdote, I think, is more or less indicative of the kind of person you are. Kind of like whether or not your eyes light up when someone starts saying Pastéis de..., if you can finish that, we are bound to be the best of friends. I know it's downright annoying to hear the words "enjoy", "life", and "Italy", all in the same sentence, but it never ceases to be true- here, life is lived. In North America, I used to watch whole days race by. Whole days. A precious amount of unpromised time. You may say, well, that's your fault. And perhaps it is. Perhaps some of us need Italy. To be surrounded by so much beauty that it's impossible, just impossible to look away. And that's just the men. Just kidding, I was referencing the architectural and cultural beauty of course. Like yesterday night, I set out to meet some lovely ladies for an after-work aperitivo: it was raining, but a movie-worthy rain that seemed to bounce joyfully off the cobblestones without ever getting your Italian leather shoes wet. I was walking exceptionally slow as to not massacre another heel (I've probably spent over 50 euros having heels replaced on all my shoes) and I found myself in the middle of an illuminated Piazza della Libertà (below). Now it's no Piazza Navona, but it sure did the trick. I was just in awe, smiling like a fool, thinking to myself - how truly amazing is it to be crossing a piazza to meet friends for a drink. Not a parking lot, not the mall, not a six-lane highway- a piazza. Yes, some of us need an Italy. I really hope you find yours. x
At a bar, while visiting Madrid with friends, I had an unspectacular 15-minute conversation with an oddly tall, dark and handsome Spaniard. I hardly remembered him the next day, not to mention the fact that I gave him my email. After leaving the country, I received a message from him, which kicked off our whirlwind email romance. Three months later I returned to Spain, followed by seven more trips that year, and ultimately my move a year and a half after we met. And sure enough, nine months ago we got married in a 700-year-old monastery in the Spanish countryside!
From Life Out of a Suitcase (blog).
As you already know from my previous post, I'm reading yet another 'American moves to Italy' memoir but one I find especially poignant for a reason which I can't quite put my finger on. I originally thought it was because the author and I share a similar backstory in leaving behind big careers, but I think it's more in the kindred spirit sense- only certain people fall in love with Italy enough to be compelled to move there. Sure, everyone enjoys a quickie vacation and a weeks-worth of carb-loading, but we who are here persevering the post office lines on a Saturday morning because it's only open during work hours throughout the week (when clearly, PEOPLE WORK), we are the few. An excerpt from the first chapter of this gem of a book, entitled "Il Sogno":
This trip had opened my eyes to a different type of existence. I wanted to live in a place where even the birds took time to enjoy the small pleasures of everyday life. Where the men looked like demigods and even when dressed as Julius Caesar giving tours at the Coliseum had the confidence to invite me to dinner. Where the pace was slower, where meals were enjoyed. I wanted this life.
Ah so did I Jennifer, so did I. And we got it didn't we? Someday became today in our stories, thanks for putting yours into writing.
I'm in the middle of reading a fantastical book by former lawyer and current resident of Italy, Jennifer Criswell. She penned At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life about her move from New York City to Montepulciano and her journey from depositions to dolce vita. It clicked with me immediately, even more so than some other expat accounts as Jennifer was (and is!) young at the time and had just embarked on a profession that one does not enter overnight (very much like pharmacy). Anyways, I've been frantically highlighting and dog-earring pages since the very beginning of the book and for now, wanted to share this excerpt:
Marcel Proust said it of Venice, but for me it was Tuscany: "I made my dream my address."
Stayed tuned for more commentary on this book, I'm loving it so far and it's a perfect read for both those who dream and those who dare to live the dream.
Photograph above: One of the many "entrances" to the Upper City of Bergamo.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.
- George Saunder's speech at Syracuse University to the Class of 2013
read it in its entirety here on the NYT.
Photograph: My last day in Nepal, saying 'until next time' to some of the most radiant women I've ever met who showed me what it really means to find everything in the simple things. Their kindness, for opening their hearts and homes to a stranger, will stay with me forever.
Remember Facebook "Notes". Yeah, neither did I until I un-earthed a treasure trove (tooting my own horn here) of little bits and pieces of both my own writing, as well as excerpts that meant something to me from other, obviously more notable writers. Here's a quick sample of one that I loved and still love, a plea to young people like you and you and you, to see the world, and to put it lightly, "have your mind blown." I think I was never happier than when I had to have thirty second cold water showers in Nepal. Well ok no, I'm pretty darn happy drinking a bottle, oops I mean glass, of Chianti in Siena after a long, hard, day of doing absolutely nothing except being grateful for this thing called life. x
If you live in Italy, be sure to pick up the latest Chi because you just might find two familiar faces between its covers...that's right, Puffo and I are in this month's issue! I sent in our photo last month but completely forgot about the possibility that it could be chosen until I was casually flipping through the October 7th edition on the weekend and was in complete shock to see him featured. Anyways, with a face as handsome as Puffo's, it was inevitable that they'd include him, he's only just the most beautiful cat in the world.
Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned freelance writer, foodie, and fashionista from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.