Why Italy? they asked, What is it about Italy that made you pack your life up and just leave without a second thought?
The funny thing was, I didn’t know myself… not really. Readers of this blog will know I had never visited the country, not even once.
It was as if this invisible thread was tugging me, forcing me, to get myself there whatever the cost.
And now I’m here? Well, I think it’s obvious to anyone that it was the right choice. In fact, it was the best choice I could have ever made.
Because Italy? It’s got something utterly magical about it. It gets you. It grabs you with its pasta covered hands and drags you in. It refuses to let go.
Here’s my top 10 reasons to pack your life up in search of la dolce vita.
1. The Art & History
How can you write about Italy without mentioning the intoxicating art and history at every corner? As someone who adores every form of art, it’s an absolute paradise. Museums, gallerys, stunning churches… in Florence alone the rich abundance of it is endless. I will never tire of learning about its mesmerizing history (and luckily for me I live with Art History buffs so I’ve got it on tap!). It will never be anything other than mind-blowingly fascinating.
2. The Sunsets
I’ve caught sunsets in Rome, Siena, Lucca, Bologna, Verona and of course Florence; every single one takes my breath away. The way the sky splits into a watercolour painting of pinks, oranges, purples and reds is like nothing I have ever seen before. Slowly slipping its way across the stunning skyline, dipping into the rivers and bouncing off the exquisite architecture. If I could capture one image in life, it would be that.
3. The Romance
I’m not a romantic person. In fact, I’m the easily the most cynical person you’ll ever meet. And even now I find myself shaking my head pityfully at the couples macking all over the Ponte Vecchio (
because I’ve totally never done that #awkward). Yet… you can’t help but get a buzz from the general feeling of romance floating across the country. The way passion is celebrated and flaunted. Alas, it really is the place to fall head over heels in love.
4. The way you can walk for hours and never get bored
Although Italy is by no means a cheap country to live in, you don’t need to spend to soak up the culture. One of my favourite things to do is just walk and get lost in the city, drinking in the sights and finding wonderful sources of inspiration. There’s always something new to discover, something beautiful to catch your eye. Even just lifting your gaze to notice the fascinating buildings all around you is a treat in itself. The country is a feast for the eyes, plain and simple.
5. The Food
Need I say no more? You haven’t lived until you have sampled true Italian cuisine. I truly fear the day I have to live off anything other than freshly made pizza, deliciously seasoned pasta and oh-so-creamy gelato. I mean, how can you ever taste another Lasagne once you have devoured Bologna’s finest? How can you ever look at a Dominos again when you have feasted on the sweet, sweet delights of Gusta? You never will, that’s how.
6. The way you are encouraged to give in to all vices
Before I moved to Italy, I was an absolute gym bunny who cut out all caffeine and would only eat quinoa for lunch. And yes, I did have a killer pair of abs and a loose waistband, but was I ever satisfied? Could I enjoy the sweet taste of Aperol Spritz at 11am, or the heart warming buzz of my morning coffee? Did I have the option of pre-dinner food and cocktails before a beasty meal without the fear of judgement? Or the luxury of 2 euro wine whenever I wanted it? Admittedly, I may now possess what can only be described as an hour-glass figure minus the boobs and yes, my ass might have taken on a life of its own, but honestly? It is totally worth it for the fantastic luxuries I find myself giving in to on a daily basis. Come on. Where else can you drink prosecco for breakfast and get away with it?
7. The way (despite the undeniable jiggly bits) you are made to feel beautiful
Whilst the Ciao Bella does wear thin most of the time, it can work as a much needed confidence boost… you know, every now and again. And sure, the terrifying intensity of stares that scream “I want to wear your skin” can get a bit much sometimes, but when you’re sporting a top knot and no makeup (aka me 5 days out of 7) it does make you feel like maybe you’re not so blindingly repulsive afterall. What I’m saying is dese men luv dere chix.
8. The way it makes you CTFO (cough, chill the fuck out, cough)
I cannot pretend that life in Italy is always total serenity (anyone who has spent any time in the Post Office will know that statement couldn’t be more wrong). But overall, Italy does have a way of making you take things just that little bit slower. I mean, people just turn up whenever they want. Trains will arrive an hour late without a single explanation. Bus drivers will sit and enjoy a panini in the sunshine before embarking on the rest of their journey. I honestly believe watches are redundent here. And although at first that filled me with crippling anxiety (I am fully OCD about time – thanks for that one, Dad) I am now embracing it with open arms. That general feeling of calmness and the lack of rush is oddly (for me, at least) settling.
9. The jaw-dropping inspiration
Since being in Italy, I find myself constantly inspired. Even just walking home from work, I’ll be pulling out my notebook to scrawl down some idea for a story that has popped into my head, or a title for a new blog post. Really, it’s hard to explain the feeling. But it just does something. It flows through your veins and pours out of your fingertips. Day or night, put me in front of a laptop and I’ll write for hours at a time. And that. I haven’t had that for years. That alone makes this whole experience so very worth it.
10. The way it really is another world
Verdi summed it up perfectly; “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” Until you’ve been here, until you’ve lived here, you can never truly understand the allure. The way that, despite its faults (and yes, there are faults!), it is unlike anywhere on earth. For the creative souls, it fuels your lust for life in a way like no other. It is beauty personified, love encapsulated. It is opulence in the most delectable sense of the word. It is gluttony, in the best possible way. It is magic. Total, unadulterated magic.
Who knows where I will be this time next year. If the past 12 months have taught me anything, it is that nothing in life is guaranteed. All I know, is that this country will always hold a special place in my heart. It will always be the place my soul feels at home. It will always be the one.
“Italy and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.”