Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10, 2010

We haven’t seen as many women crying in public in all our lives as we did in Italy. At the airport, at the Metro station, on the Metro, in restrooms, walking down the street with mascara streaming, sobbing in elevators and at historic sites. A woman who didn’t cry in public almost stood out more than one who didn’t carry a designer handbag in Rome. OK. That might be a stretch. But really, I don’t know what there is to cry about. Italy has an almost magical spell over it that takes you outside of yourself, and Sarah and I experienced more of it than we’d ever hoped.

Italy has a more refined way about it, on the whole, than Spain. The history there is a bit richer and has left a little deeper mark on our present day Western culture, what with the likes of Davinci, Dante, Michelangelo and the Roman Empire effecting nearly every corner of our lives. That’s a tall order to beat. And even more recently their filmmakers and designers hold sway over much of the world. Though Cervantes, El Greco and Almodavar have done well in Spain. For the most part, Spain is more enticing for the long-term. The Spanish are not quite as impressed with themselves as the Italians. The Spanish culture has a little more grit to it. The people are more helpful, they form lines in a more orderly fashion, and the public information is much easier to follow back in Madrid. Rome’s public transportation is rather mysterious and a lot dirtier.

In addition – and this is for all you single folks out there – Spaniards are overall a more attractive people than the Italians. (Compare Penelope Cruz with Al Pacino… Wait. Is that fair?) The Spanish are more daring in their fashion sense too. Though they sometimes fail, at least they fail grandly. (Right now I’m thinking of that lady dressed head-to-toe in purple.) I also find the Spanish language more appealing to listen to.

We believe, perhaps out of necessity, that we are happier living in Spain than we would be in Italy.

With all that said, Italy should definitely be on your list of things to see before you die. Some highlights:

The Coliseum: a monument to what humans are capable of – both the magnificent and the brutal

Leaning Tower of Pisa: truly surreal to look at a leaning, 900-year-old tower

Florence: all of it… everywhere you look is something worth stopping and staring at, but there’s especially something about the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and all is iconography and seeing Michelangelo’s David

Pompei: an ancient city frozen in time

Wandering through Naples: lines to get in to see old, old palaces and seaside fortresses – lines to get in to Gucci and Prada

The Sistine Chapel: you’ve seen it all before, but you still can’t believe what you’re looking at

Dante’s House: OK, this should have been covered in the “Florence – all of it” thing, but what a feeling to stand where the great poet actually spent his daily life

The Wine: so cheap, so good

The Food: "angry" spicy tomato penne pasta in Naples, the perfect pizza crust in Rome, quattro formaggi gnocchi in Florence, peanutbutter sandwiches on Christmas night

Pics are online at our Flickr site ( We hope you enjoy them.

Happy New Year everyone! Best wishes to all of you for a great 2010.