Italy is often undervalued by Northern Europeans, when considering a second home in the south. Not only is there a language obstacle, but the cultural shock of the loud extroverted Italian personality must also be taken into account. As a British acquaintance once disparagingly told me: “Where there is one Italian, there are one hundred Italians. I prefer to go to Spain”. However tightly knit families and friends, sunshine, fresh wine and food are all factors that contribute to Italy’s ranking as one of the healthiest places to live. It is a country with one of the world’s highest life expectancies, lowest infant mortality rates, and good food distribution.
The city of Venice has for two decades now been my favourite city in the world. The charm of substituting cars with boats, and asphalt with water, has had a firm grip on my heart. Rome, on the other hand was a whole different story.
I first visited Rome with my family when I was eight years old. At the time I spent two days jogging after my parents as the looked at all the ancient ruins. Invariably I came to the conclusion that Rome was boring and exhausting.
Passing through the city again this year, 22 years later, I could only concede that I was entirely mistaken. I found the city breathtakingly beautiful. The gardens, the ruins, the fountains, the coliseum, and the melange of bright-eyed beautiful people made me realise that I would love to live in this city and to explore its culture. With the sun and blue skies lighting our way, not even the expensive small grocery shops could dampen my mood.
My eleven month old daughter kept staring at all the beautiful ladies passing her by in the hopes of getting played with. Behind me, my six year old daughter kept whimpering about how tired she was from all the walking, and how she wanted to go back home. Familiar feelings indeed.
So is Italy for you? You decide, but for me the answer is a resounding “YES!”