Saturday 18 October 2008

Musing on Italy

Recently, I got back in contact to an old Italian friend through Facebook. That was nice to "see" her again, well, get in touch really, as she was a really good friend during my first year in England. It made me think about my experience of Italy and Italians. I blogged before about this year in the company of the Italian community. It was a weird time, because my first real contact with England (tourism didn't count) was through the contact of a foreign community. Brits were not easy to hang out with, they were often distant with foreigners, after a few years at university they all had their circle of friends already and hanging around a group of outsiders like yourself was the logical thing to do. As I said before, they were not only Italians in our group, but they formed the main demographic.

I have always been Anglophile, but my fondness for Italy, while present, was never as strong. I love opera, so of course I already appreciated Italian language, I also loved spaghetti westerns, Italian cuisine, my favourite writer (you know who) married an Italian woman and so on. That said, I never cared too much for the religious zeal of some (sometimes even when they are not religious), the corruption of their élite and their utter lack of discipline. Italians can also be quite rude without meaning it. However, they accepted me without much hesitation. They taught me a thing or two about cooking, they were more than ready to share their drinks and mine, they made me belong somewhere when I needed to fit in, whatever "in" was. I always wondered why I got along so well with them, while I couldn't connect with a people I admired much more and who didn't have the same language barrier. Maybe there was a sort of exotic reciprocity between them and me: they were exotic for me, I was for them. And exotic people are always more interesting creatures. Some of them became close confident and I was always disappointed that I never saw them after 2000. I hope I can correct this, even though apart from the friend I mentioned here, I lost sight of all of them.

Oh, and a side note about religiosity: my friend is not a religious zealot (I write this in case she ever reads this blog). She is very liberal (by Italian standards at least), has always been strongly secularised and shares more or less the same lack of beliefs as your humble narrator.

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