If I ever had a bad day in Seattle, the grey skies, weird overly awkward people, cold, splattery rain and stop and go traffic or a parking ticket would make a bad day even more excruciating. Italy, however, is a kinder friend to you on such an occasion. Over the past nearly 2 years, I have broadcasted my love hate relationship with living in Italy.
I imagine it like an “I Love Lucy” episode where Italy does something so despicable like make money disappear in a bad gambling bet with Ethel that I want to chase her around, shaking my fists while yelling “why I oughttaaaaaa!!!”
I also imagine us as 2 teenagers picking on each other, putting glue in my hair and me crying, swearing off this godforsaken place forever. But when push comes to shove, all jokes are put aside and she sits by me and takes care to soothe my woes and shows me all her practical jokes of lost in translation mind games, mean petty vandals and bureaucratic hoops are just done in jest and that deep down- she is really there for me to shower me with sunshine, flowers, beautiful art and above all- pizza and gelato.
Florence is especially a great place for a pizza pick-me-up because there is O’Vesuvio. It is basically a Neapolitan style pizza pie joint in the city center which was also the same pizza hut that The Jersey Shore worked at when they filmed their “Florence” season. It’s an instant reminder that life can’t be that bad- you are not one of the members of the Jersey shore and you aren’t one of the chumps that had to work with them. Life is good again. And the pizza is semi-edible.
Not only that, Italy will snuggle you with coccoli (fried, salty foccacia-like bread balls) spread with stracchino cheese for just a euro. Not to mention cheap, delicious wine. Artistic nooks laden with history and beauty (i.e. the Accademia gallery which hosts the David statue) And the nice, smiley plump jolly cheese monger who throws in some fava beans to go with that farmstead organic fresh, creamy pecorino (sheeps’ milk cheese) that cost less than the 2 euro gelato you had just 6 minutes prior.
Italy may test your nerves, try your patience, chew you up and spit you back out. But when you need it- she will be there. For 6 euros or less. Having the kind of bad day where you don’t even have chump change? She’ll take care of that with beautiful sunsets, warm afternoons and fragrant spring flowers to lift your spirits.
Just be aware, just as soon as you’re nursed back to strength after a few pizzas, countless gelatos, romantic walks, sunny bike rides with the wind caressing your hair (or bald head)- she’ll be back tormenting you with some random backdated overpriced gas bill, a law change that requires you to submit 12 thousand new applications that will take 16 years to register, the local crazy will throw a box at your head, the tax rate will increase by another 8 points and the pharmacist will prescribe you cat tranquilizers or butt plugs instead of enteric-coated ibuprofen. Until then, enjoy your rose and white chocolate gelato among the backdrop of the most wonderful, beautiful country that is: Italia.