1. Italy is a visual paradise in most places. Sure, some of the newer cities are kind of ghetto with lackluster architecture, but for the most part the cities are absolutely stunning. Old cement buildings with charming flower beds in windows, the cobblestone, the massive churches with well-preserved Fresco paintings, and greener than Crayola-green hills. If Italy was a person it would be a Victoria’s Secret model. Probably one of the transgender ones because their bodies are the most toned.
2. The dramatic graffiti. There’s nothing like teenage angst and love to make walking the dog a poetic experience. There’s a freakish amount of graffiti in Italy which seems ghetto and sketchy until you can read it and it’s all, “Dear Maria, you’re an angel sent from God. I love you, for now, for always, your love, Giorgio.” I also love how they will have love letter battles, like one person will write his girlfriend something, then a few days later a different guy will write his girlfriend a poem directly over it. Ah, those teens in Italy, such rascals. And also? Didn’t their parents teach them anything about pens or paper or the beauty of a simple email (or a mixed tape….)?
3. There is never an impending feeling of doom, or the need to be productive whatsoever. People seem to do everything in slow motion, even at the emergency room. It’s like nothing matters, the world stands still, and we’re all just hanging out. Italy is possibly the most relaxing place I’ve ever been simply because the general demeanor of its inhabitants seem not at all concerned with anything. In public. This doesn’t extend to when you actually know people or see them in their homes. That’s when the crazy comes out.
4. Clothing. It’s the best place to shop on the planet if you’re into monochromatic color schemes, neutrals, black outfits, warm grays, and a look that screams, “Serious on the outside, fun on the inside!” Naturally.
5. A different kind of “manly.” There is definitely a lot of sexism in Italy (let’s just call a spade, a spade, eh?) but the idea of “manliness,” is different. Guys have no shame when it comes to dressing well, taking incredible care of their bodies or clothing, and will give zero second-thoughts to cruising around in a suit on a bicycle of any color. Sometimes with a poodle in the basket and a baby strapped to their back. Men often carry their female partner’s purses around, and are not concerned with small banners of manhood. For example, Francesco had a work trip in the US with all Americans and during dinner one of the American guys actually said, “White wine is a woman’s drink.” And Francesco nearly lost his shit. He tried to correct him and say that white wine pairs better with different types of food but the men at the table stood firm that “red wine is for men.” Weird.
6. Speedos and naked boobs. Look, yes, it can be a bit traumatic to witness two overweight Italian men with gorillia-like body hair wrestling on the beach in Gaeta. But, I love that there is a different relationship with the body in Italy. Women will occasionally pop their tops off at certain beaches, they don’t put swimming-suit tops on 4 year old girls (and seriously why would you? What are we covering?), and the guys proudly display their banana packages with no remorse whatsoever. I kind of like that. Not that I love to go to the beach to stare at semi-naked dudes…but, I like the confidence. Look, here’s my penis and all of my man-hair and potbelly for all to see, displayed triumphantly on the sand.
7. An extreme attention to detail. I don’t know if you’ve ever went into a chocolate shop in Italy to buy a gift for a friend but if you haven’t, do it. Even if you purchase four pieces, at any given store, they’ll spend 15 minutes making it cute for you. Paper, tags, ribbons, all of it. If you’re in a hurry it can also make you crazy but if you have time go check it out. They have an acute, almost manic, attention to detail that is probably unrivaled by anyone ever.