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Don't hate me, but i've just come back from Italy

DON’T HATE me, but I’ve just come back from Italy.

Now, I fully understand the wave of nausea that will be sweeping over some; the sense of dread that I am going to go all Eat, Pray, Love on you. We all know that romantic plotline (white lady quits her job/house/cat/husband and moves to Italy, eats pasta, gains weight/happiness/independence, takes Italian lessons/drawing classes in Florence, buys a Vespa and discovers she is catnip to the local Romeos).

I am still ensconced in my relationship and family, however, which limits me to that other well-trodden terrain: the towering Pisa-like pile in the local bookshop dedicated to tales of people who have gone to Italy on a holiday and decided to stay. These seem to only come in two forms: glossy-paged photo tributes with titles likeBellissimo: My Year Under the Tuscan Sun, or the more upbeat, comedically inclined paperbacks Tiramisu for Two! or the bestselling You Say Potato; I Say Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola! detailing the hilarious misunderstandings and culture shock as pom meets Pompeii.

So, if you have never been to Italy, like me, your impressions of that country are most likely formed from an array of endlessly repeated, but oddly limited, literary clichés. Men are dark and stylish, loinily lounging about, necking espresso shots and appreciatively murmuring “Ciao, bella” to any passing female. Traffic is delightfully chaotic. The countryside is strewn with abandoned villas made of ancient stone and covered with rambling vines, filtering through shards of Tuscan sun. It’s all about the sun in Tuscany, apparently, which is “glorious”, but the plumbing is “horrendous” (which is odd, because I think the ancient Romans invented that and you’d think that would have given the Italians a head start). Anyway, the plumbing foibles alone always involve several chapters dedicated to an army of local menfolk, all called Roberto or Salvo, who, despite their initial xenophobic mistrust, will turn up without rhyme or reason to work on your antique pipes, before going tools down for a three-course lunch and a siesta. Really! How do they get anything done? Still, it’s all worth it for the stunning vistas featuring endless olive groves and cloudless blue skies and, of course, the mandatory (MasterChef) nonna who pootles up from the neighbouring village with a platter of homemade tortellini so tender it will make you weep. Hey! It’s a village life! See you at the gelateria!

Anyway. I am here to report, astoundingly, that it is all true. I mean, I didn’t buy a villa. But I stayed in one. And while the plumbing wasn’t convincing, the electricity was really eccentric – so much so that you couldn’t plug the coffee maker in without the dishwasher turning off. And it was, my lord it was hot. It was actually a heatwave. And it was glorious. We ate beautiful food under the shade of a wisteria vine by a pool, and we looked over olive groves, and the neighbouring donkey brayed so loudly every evening that we made jokes about what the farmer was doing to him. We had siestas and rented bikes and watched the sun set over the old town below, and the children played in the piazza till midnight, and everything was so…Italian, I couldn’t stop marvelling at it.

Source: Sunday Style

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