I have to admire the way the Italians walk. They are not in a rush to reach their destination, for them the journey is more important and they saunter, taking in the moment, looking at everything going on around them. They are a big contrast to my neighbors who rush to the store, rush to the bus stop, rush to work and if they look at anything their eyes are glued to their iPhones.
I have to admire the restraint of Italian bar and restaurant keepers who do not ask the morning pensioners, who gather to exchange gossip and soccer scores and who sit at the cafes tables, without ordering coffee, to pay up or move on. In my neighborhood if anyone sits at an outside table they had better order something or the owners will shoo them quickly away.
I also admire how the Italians can complicate a simple process. Take their toaster. It is not the kind of toaster where you lower the bread into the heating elements, no you have to grasp a wire device to open the metal cage, place the toast into it, and then physically lower the cage into the toaster. The toaster is then turned on.
When the toast is ready you grasp the cage, lift it out, the metal cage red hot, turn the cage upside down, open it dropping the toast on the table. I am surprised that operators of this complicated devise haven’t been branded many times over.
Take the Italian lampshade. In this case a contraption designed to shade only half of a light bulb, why that is important escapes me. The design is what I call Italianate – a way to complicate rather than simplify.
Of course any culture which came up with, frescos by Luca Signorelli, architecture by Andrea Palladio, music by Verdi, Vivaldi and Puccini, pizza Margherita and gelato has my vote anytime.
(Illustrations from my travel/sketchbook No. 41).