Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Love it or leave it?

Our year in Italy was an emotionally complex one... to say the least. There are so many things about life in Italy that we loved - and a fair share of things that drove us completely nuts. Here's our short list, some of which will probably only make sense to those few who have been blessed to live in this crazy, beautiful place...

Italian Drivers 
I didn't actually drive in Italy. Usually I got a little carsick when Cole was driving. (I think it's a combination of riding in a teeny-tiny car and swerving around lots of round-abouts.) Motorcycles pass on the center line, stop signs are more of a suggestion and everyone is in a hurry. When they're walking, Italians stroll casually - the old men clasp their hands behind their back. Behind the wheel it's another story! There's constant honking, zipping around each other, constant craziness. So we're happy to say "Ciao!" to driving in Italy. Cole has a few things to add about driving in Italy. He may or may not have some unresolved tension: 
"I won't miss driving in Italy.  I won't miss the whiplash from the stop-and-start traffic.  Always being on the look out for cars or pedestrians suddenly dashing or pulling out in front of me. I won't miss the overly-complicated gas stations. I won't miss someone one riding inches (or centimeters) from my rear bumper because I'm only going 15 over the posted speed limit. I won't miss being honked at for yielding too long at a roundabout or for breaking some unknown traffic law.  I definitely won't miss seeing a squad (one or two) local polizia parked at a roundabout waving random cars over with their "driveway reflectors" for God-only-knows-why. This, by the way, is one of the most baffling things to me. Who really knows what the local polizia actually do?!? (Even our Italian friends agree!) I won't miss people driving in the center lane like their car is on a monorail. And I won't miss being startled by a car or motorcycle suddenly appearing in my blind spot just as I'm getting the nerve to actually make a move to pass the rare driver who is abiding by the speed limit." 
Ok, seriously... I had to cut him off. Get this guy into therapy. :)

Yum just doesn't cut it... American pizza doesn't really even deserve to be called "pizza."  It should have an entirely different name. Admittedly, it took us awhile to fall in love with pizza in Italy, but it's one of those things we already really miss. Cole's still perfecting his pizza crust... chop, chop!! 

Our Apartment
We lived in a third-floor apartment. It's really beautiful, but old... The windows are thin and there was a parking lot below us... Laying in bed at night, we heard people having conversations plain as day below. Also, noisy motorcycles. Why, oh why do these Italian kids think they need to make their motor louder? We have no drier... I can confidently say that I do not miss air-drying everything... There are just some things that need to be fluffy-soft. Also, no microwave. Some would say this is healthier. I say, blah. What WILL we miss? Hearing the music of a string quartet float up to our living room window... Seeing the beautiful terracotta rooftops from all of our windows. Walking a few short blocks to the scenic lake shore... there are so many things that we'll miss about our awesome location and beautiful apartment. 

Dining in Italy
Italians have mealtime down to an art... it really is a beautiful experience to dine - really dine. If you ever have an Italian vacay planned in the future, budget for a real meal out, order all the courses, and plan for at least three hours of chatting, drinking and eating fresh, delicious foods.

Will SOMEBODY please tell the youth of Italy that smoking is bad for you? They haven't gotten the memo. We saw many, many kids (who looked to be around 14-15?!) lighting up. 

Cole now has an espresso machine. He is officially a coffee snob and we're taking orders for lattes and cappuccinos... Mmmmm! Yum! Now if I can just figure out how to work the darn thing... 

Waiting In Lines
Lines? What are lines? Those orderly things don't exist in Italy... much to our frustration. Even checking out at the grocery store was chaotic... Everyone likes to crowd to the front and it drove us batty...

The Vino
It's delicious and cheap. We brought some home with us and I'm sure it won't last long! What's not to love about Italian wine?! 

The Friendships
This is one of those things that puts a lump in my throat. We left Italy with some awesome new friendships - parting ways with people we know we may never, ever see again. Thank God for the internet, facebook and instant-messaging. We hope that we will get to see some of these friendly faces one day soon. :)

We wrote much of this post while still in Italy and I'm just now getting around to putting it up... There are so many more things we could discuss... but this is plenty for now.

With any decision you make in life, there are sacrifices. Going to Italy was a tremendous blessing in many ways, but we also missed much, as well. We hope this long post captures some of the things we LOVED and some of the challenges from our stay, too. It was a beautiful, crazy experience and we wouldn't trade it for the world!