This is it folks. Our last day in Italy for the foreseeable future. I’m writing from the Alitalia lounge at Venice Marco Polo Airport, thanks to Drew’s gold status. Fond memories lighten my spirits and I realize that I never really touched upon what it is about the Italian spirit that is so compelling and infectious. I’ll give it a try here, but please take what I say with this understanding in mind: Italy is a very diverse country. Every region has stereotypical characteristics that define it. I’m speaking about my knowledge of the Italian spirit in The Veneto, the place we’ve called home together for the last 2 years. Other regions most certainly differ!
The Italian Spirit (from the Veneto’s perspective):
Time is relative. 5 minutes could mean 5 minutes, but it could also mean 20. Events are scheduled with relative timing as an expectation.
Time for yourself is not looked down upon, so time for a spritz or a coffee is not a luxury but actually normal.
Time with friends and family walking in the fresh air of the countryside is a favorite pastime of most, both young and old.
High quality food should be eaten always. That means fresh and seasonal ingredients prepared lovingly and eaten with those you love.
There is an unwritten code about the food which makes everything better when followed. Dairy shouldn’t be eaten with seafood. Cappuccino should only be consumed until 11am every day.
Work is something that you do to live. It does not define who you are as a person.
Hobbies and Passions
Personal passions and hobbies help define you as a person. That’s why you won’t find any serious cyclist wear jeans and a t-shirt. High-end spandex and the best gear are essential. This is also why you find people from all walks of life doing all amazing kinds of things, like learning to sing in the lyric style.
La bella figura
People pay attention to how they are coming across by using appropriate behavior at the appropriate time. This is usually true except while driving and when someone gets mad, then all bets are off!
People dress properly for occasions. While they are certainly not as elegant as they used to be on a daily basis, they also usually don’t trot around in sweatpants.
Who you know and associate with matters.
La dolce vita
“Che bella” is spoken and heard often. No matter how angry they were earlier, or how poor they are in this tough economic time, there is always something beautiful to celebrate.
As you can see, I’ve learned to appreciate life more from my time here in the Veneto. Let’s hope that I can also find the essence of Uzbekistan come August!
Italia, grazie e ciao.