Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. This month also marks one year since I moved here. In honor of that, I wanted to write a blog... but instead I took a nap. So here it is, a day late, my tribute to Italy.
When I first came to visit Italy almost five years ago, I was completely infatuated. I thought it was the most beautiful, most perfect land that I had ever seen. It was so full of art and history, and my college sophomore brain just couldn't get enough. The food here was magical, like nothing I had tasted before. Even the relaxed, I'll-get-to-it-tomorrow attitude of the Italian people seemed enchanting and refreshing.I was head over heels in love with a country shaped like a boot.
Well, it's five years later, and it's safe to say the honeymoon's over. I live here now, and I get to see the side of Italy the tourists never see: the public transportation that's always either late or on strike, the mind-numbing politics, the way Rome's city center smells like a toilet for most of the summer. The food is still amazing, but unfortunately a year of endless pizza and pasta has left its mark on my hips. And that relaxed attitude? Well, now it just gets on my nerves that nothing ever gets done around here. No, I'm no longer infatuated with Italy, and in fact I often find myself getting homesick for Alabama.
But you know what? Every now and then the magic of Italy still surprises me. As I'm leaving work at the Vatican, and I take a few minutes to contemplate St. Peter's Basilica... or as I turn a corner and see the Colosseum... or even when I get a particularly delicious gelato... sometimes the beauty of this place slaps me in the face and I remember how lucky I am to live and work here. And, for the record, I still think this is the most beautiful place on earth. There's just something about the light, and as the sun is setting in the evening everything turns golden and I relize why Italy has been the inspiration for countless poems, books, songs, films, and fantasies.
I do still love Italy, it's just not that new, unconditional infatuation anymore. It's a more mature love, one that has been tested- and is still being tested- by time. I know now Italy isn't perfect, but sometime's it's the imperfections that make this place so unique in the world.
So happy 150th birthday, Italy! May your next 150 bring prosperity and health and happiness for your people. And maybe, just maybe, better public transportation?