I received email from someone who had visited my website, read a few articles, and concluded that I don’t like Italy much. I am confused by this, especially since the articles she cited (Babies, Homes, and one other, I forget which) didn’t strike me as negative. I see my articles as statements of fact, though written in a wryly ironic tone that might confuse some people, especially if they come looking for “Under the Tuscan Sun”-style warm fuzzies about Italy.
So, in case it needs clarifying, let me clarify: I do love Italy, and am very happy to live here. It’s probably the best place in the world for me to live, and, even if it wasn’t, my family is there, and that pretty much settles the question.
But I don’t love Italy blindly. I didn’t move here because I had always dreamed of living here*. So I don’t have particular dreams about Italy to keep alive, and can allow myself to see the bad as well as the good. And I’m not trying to make money out of writing about Italy (well, it would be nice…), so I don’t have to write the kind of sunshine-and-red-wine stuff that most people seem to want to read. The Italy I live in has much to recommend it, but it’s not the Italy you see in glossy coffee-table books. The Italian families I know are not the warm, boisterous, suffocating crowds you see in American sit-coms and movies. My family, friends, and neighbors are real, modern Italians, who rarely conform to Italian-American stereotypes.
I’m beginning to think that I should write a book about real life in Italy. Not to scare people off, but to point out that daily life in Italy has its own stresses and pains, just as daily life anywhere does. A good bottle of wine with a good meal is a lovely thing to have (even better when combined with a marvelous view), but it doesn’t cure all ills.
You know what’s really ironic? The average Italian on the street is astonished that I would rather live in Italy than America, or that anyone would (I have had this conversation with many taxi drivers). Like much of the rest of the world, Italians see America as the land of opportunity and riches, of wide open spaces and huge houses. Most of them would not willingly leave Italy permanently, yet they seem to wish that they could participate in the American dream. And they are absolutely floored to be told that many Americans dream – of living in Italy.
*If you’re wondering why I did move here… go here.