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
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.
I could have also titled this post "How to Not Gain 50 Pounds After Moving to Italy" because that's essentially what it's about- it's baffled me that I haven't become reminiscent of Peter Griffin based on the quantity of food I've been ingesting throughout the day, don't get me started on the wine which just escalates in proportion to your alcohol tolerance. I used to find myself stumbling around after a half-a-glass, now my body is so Italian-ized, I can do a good 1/2 litre and retain coherency in Italian. Actually, language skills always "improve" after some liquid courage, strange enough...! (Digression: I once had the absolute best conversation in a bar in Moscow after innumerable shots of vodka with two Russians, in Russian. My friend travelling with me at the time can confirm this phenomenon). This past Sunday, Massi and I took the bike up into the hills around the old city, parked it, and took to the winding little streets by foot. We found so many photogenic moments, I started to go definitive-Asian and Massi, sensible Italian that he is, started to get annoyed/embarrassed. I wish we had written down exactly which "scaletta" (cute stairway) this was. Let's just say I don't have any problem doing these kinds of stairs and in retrospect, that's how you need to balance your food intake: the long, stairs-filled, Sunday walk. It's besides the point that I was dreaming about a granita al limone the entire time (I made Massi take me for one after), the point is that you inadvertently exercise all the time in Italy. At least, that's how I justify this no-carb-left-behind diet...so think before you comment and kill my dreams. (All the photos in this post were taken with my trusty iPhone, FYI).
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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