Spell Prada, Ferragamo, Gabbana!
We all have had our share of espressos and cappuccinos, of spaghettis and fettuccines, of linguini and risotto, and loved (will always love) them too.
We empathised with Diane Lane when she went on that serendipitous trip to Tuscany in Under the Tuscan Sun and fell in love with Venice that was so magically sketched in Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr.’s rom-com Only You. We all picture Venus as the pedestal of beauty. In fact we live all these things that are just irrefutably Italian. Some even thought Cavalli was a type of pasta! But that’s alright it’s just that the Italian influence is so adorably easy to embrace.
It may be said about the Italians that they’re better at life than the rest of the world. On some levels yes, for one – their culinary masterpieces. Through travel I got myself immersed in the Italian culture, particularly Lombardian (Northern Italy) culture, and I can say, thus far, it is not only in the food department have I found Italy and the Italians easy to love. I can go on forever with a list but I have saved a short list of my Top 10 amongst them… for now, at least.
So when in Rome, do what the Romans do. Which is exactly what I did – I emulated the Italians and in the process, fell in love with their heritage, their lifestyle.
ere are 10 random things I learned, loved, and embraced about the Italians.
1. Italians are dog lovers. And quite endearingly so. The first thing that struck me about these descendants of the great Roman gods is they are not any different from the rest of us when it comes to pets – dogs, in particular. They are such BIG ‘cane’ (read: KA-ne) lovers.
2. A cafe is a ‘bar’. Or a bar is a cafe. It is where they get their morning coffee, have their cappuccino breaks, or their ‘Campari-soda’ after a long day’s work and yes where they gather for a glass of wine or a beer in the evenings.
3. Espresso and cornetto is brekky. Ever wondered what a typical Italian breakfast is like? I did. My friend, Juno, who used to live in Bologna, Italy for a few years before migrating to Hawaii encouraged me to try getting breakfast from a local ‘bar’ (cafe as explained in No. 2) so only when I got to getting one did I know – a quintessential Italian breakfast unceremoniously consists of an espresso and cornetto (croissant), or a tiny cup of cappuccino, macchiato, or a latte paired with an Italian brioche (a Danish pastry, or any sweet roll or bread). There goes a typical morning scene. No sunny-side ups!
4. No cappuccino after 11.30 am. Next on the list is actually a ‘note’ to No. 3: Italians generally do not drink cappuccino after 11.30 in the morning. It’s that old belief that the milk in the cappuccino would spoil their appetite for lunch. Remember these Italians are known for their multi-course lunches.
5. Wine flows ever so seamlessly, drinking it is equally as endless.
6. Wine goes with practically anything.
7. Pizzas are not meant for sharing. I’ve read and heard about it quite a few times before. All pizzas in Italy are personal pizzas (size-wise that is), and obviously, no, they are not actually meant for sharing – a setup that totally works for me!
8. (Another food entry!) There’s more to risotto than what we may think. Hands down I am truly convinced of all risotto the Milanese risotto is the best – with its perfect creamy consistency. But what we didn’t know is that what happens to leftover risotto? Yes, I have learned that they turn it into another beautiful culinary piece, maybe, even better – they make them into risotto balls, stuff them with ragu (meat sauce) and roll them on breading and deep fry to perfection. This is called an ‘arancini’.
9. Fashion is in their heart and soul. As if we didn’t know this?! But since we have always adored Italian fashion so this has got to be in my list. Bulgari, Missoni, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Bottega Venetta, Max Mara, and Versace are just a few in the long list of famous fashion houses known globally. The Italians just basically live and breathe fashion.
10. I found the people generally polite and friendly whilst not forgetting that they are a fun bunch. (At least that was my first-hand personal impression of them.)
“As they say in Italy, Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other. The Medici family had to bring their Tuscan cooks up there so they could make something edible.” – Mario Batali
“You may have the universe if I may have Italy” – Giuseppe Verdi
Images: Author’s own.
Photo Locations: Milan, Lake Como