Tuesday, February 17, 2009


i loved florence when i lived there and i hated rome then for its busyness. the next time, when i visited rome primarily, i came to love its excitement and its italian-ness, and visiting florence was a drudgery due its american-ness. italy generally is wonderful in its beauty, history, culture, streets, fountains, language, food, people, statues, temples, churches, coliseums, pillars, arches, trees, hills, sky, air, gelato, piazzas. i love piazza culture, young/old people walking in and out of small streets into/onto large open spaces where other people are sitting talking laughing eating loving watching; the shops all around, the fountains in and around. the people are fashionable and pretty, wearing colours that reflect their internal passion for life, fueled by an openness with love, something that the continent embraced but which english and, by extension, north american culture suppressed. i loved parma; a small town with a towering medieval university and surprisingly large population of young people, who were the only people out at night, lounging on the lawn of the university, basking in the light of the late-night pizzeria and gelateria, talking singing playing loving, until they move on into the main piazza which is deserted except for one small street in which almost all the youth of the town are gathered inside and outside of a bar. i loved that restaurant there i went to by accident, and ate dinner and lunch the next day, it was so good i ate it all, the antipasto the primi the secondi the insalata and the dolce. i loved the shops there too, i found such interesting and well-made items. but rome really is spectacular in its physical oppenness its grandiosity which is at the same time surrounded by networks of small mysteries, like the choclit shoppe with the chocolate shooter glasses. but venice is the real hub of mystery. at night it's deserted, not a soul except the lonesome wandering carabinieri, who tells you that the island is completely safe despite its seeming danger awaiting every twisted corner and turn, of which there are millions in that little space with the high walls and small streets, which conjure images of men and women running and chasing mischievously in long capes and masks. i loved florence, with its museum that used to be the academy in which every night musicians would play in the open courtyard surrounded by statues of the founders of western humanism all of whom lived there and flourished under the medici. but, nothing gets done in italy. in a way, i love that, it's comfortable to me, i feel constricted by the rule-obsessed repression of western society; i grew up in a third-world country, i live in the third-world city of north america (where the roads are bad health care is abominable and things don't get done administratively), and thus i suppose it's natural i'd like italy, the third world of western europe. but it really does have a natural beauty, which really is matched by its historical and architectural beauty; it is a place that is thousands of years old and has the histories of my favourite periods in european history, classical and renaissance (both are philosophically the same if one was to look for a link in my thought-chain). it's such a cliche to love italy, but it is part of my mental heritage as well, being schooled in liberal humanism all my life, and while india's beauty/culture/heritage/homeness holds its real sway over me, italy is my second love.

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