Blogging about beautiful Italian things is quite common, I know.
The Internet is full of posts and articles about the beauty of Italy, its amazing lifestyle, all the things you should learn from the Italian way of life and so on.
I know this very well and this is exactly why last year I wrote a blog post about the things I hate about Italy and Italians. The purpose of the post was going beyond the usual image of Italy and its idyllic Tuscan countryside, where everything is beautiful and everybody is living a happy life.
I wanted to give people an idea of how living in Italy is really like and how difficult it is sometimes. I also wanted to share some not-so-nice aspects of Italians and Italian culture, just to give a more realistic idea of the country, without the rose-tinted glasses of too many books or articles.
Unfortunately, that blog post of mine has become very popular lately – I don’t know why – and I have started getting some very bad comments, some of which are just full of hate and nothing more. I always accept criticism and am always up for a good conversation about ideas and views that are different from mine but I don’t like hate.
So I have decided to restore some balance and write a blog post about positive things about Italy. I didn’t want to sound too patriotic, though, and so I have decided to ask some of my students what they think of Italy and Italians, to make this post a collection of pure love for my country.
Before sharing their opinions, though, I’d love to say that I love my country for its genuine and incredible food, for the friendliness of its people and I will be forever thankful for free healthcare, one of the things I treasure the most. But enough about me, let’s read what my lovely students say about Italy.
“I love the way Italians can find pleasure in the small things in life, like a good cup of coffee, a friendly chat with an acquaintance, or a day at the beach. And of course, I love the wealth of natural beauty, history, and culture that can be found all around Italy. And I must say I love the passion I hear in Italian music – even rap can sound good to me in Italian :)”
Angela – Sweden
“One of the things I love about Italy are the specialty grocery stores. Different stores for fruits and vegetables, bread, meats, etc. This is entirely different from the way I shop at home. I enjoy making quick trips into the stores several times a week. I love that after you have been into the same store a few times the store owner will recognize you and greet you warmly“.
Tara – California, USA
“I love how Italians have such a passion for family, food, sport, culture, and just life in general. The enthusiasm they show when they talk through both words (which are often loud), and hand gestures are a joy to see and hear. There’s nothing I love more than getting lost in the narrow, cobblestone streets of an Italian town or city. One might find a little gelateria, boutique shop, or some amazing ancient architecture or ruins which is something I am always in awe of. I also love piazzas, and how they bring so many people together”.
Melissa – Australia
“I love the history that is on display wherever you go, from the cobblestone streets through to places like the Coliseum where it’s possible to be transported back to the period of Ancient Rome. I love the food which is fresh and delicious. I always miss a real Italian pizza when I return to Australia. I love the energy of the Italian people and the surrounding chaos”.
Finally, I love the football. Go Milan!
Richard – Australia
“1) I love how I can begin my morning with a beautiful, yet challenging, hike and then swim in the sea after. Liguria is my favorite place in Italy because it has both beautiful mountains and amazing beaches, yet is not as touristy as the Amalfi Coast.
2) I love eating in Italy. As a vegan, some countries, including the US, can be so challenging. But, when I am in Italy, no matter the region, everyone is always accommodating. And, unlike, often in the States, Italians do not just want to give me lots of pasta; I am always served a beautiful salad and a plate of seasonal grilled vegetables.
3) My favorite part of the day in Italy is Aperitivo! I love how Italians love watching the sunset and want to get together to enjoy it with friends and family. And of course, the great cocktails and amazing complimentary snacks are a bonus.
4) I love how dog-friendly everything is. Eating dinner while the waiter, and often the chef, sneaks my pup snacks always makes me smile. I never feel bad about taking him along with me anywhere.
5) I love how the pace of life seems perfect to me. It is not too slow and not too fast. Somehow, I feel like Italians have found the perfect in-between.
6) I love the people. Everyone always makes me feel at home in Italy. Once I am introduced to someone in Italy, they become a friend for life. I am very grateful for my Italian friendships.
7) Obviously, I love the wine, but most importantly, I love the variety and how different wines can taste depending on the region. And, I miss Pigato. I wish we could get it in the States because it brings me back to the beaches of Sestri Levante”.
Laurel – Pennsylvania, USA
“Well the first thing is the language – it is so musical and lovely to listen to – a little difficult for me to understand when spoken quickly but it hardly mattered. I guess I remember the food also – especially the seafood we ate at tiny restaurants on the Eolie islands. Then there is the history and the art – we come from a very recently inhabited country so to see many buildings and artworks dating back centuries is mind-boggling. The scenery – Stromboli Etna Vesuvius, the blueness of the Mediterranean the little hilltop villages- the friendliness of the people we encountered driving across Sicily”.
Mark – New Zealand
“I have only been to Italy a few times, but every time I go I learn another thing that makes me love the country even more. One of my favorite things about the country is the diverse natural beauty the land has to offer its visitors. From the mountains of the North to the beaches and sun in the south, natural beauty touches every part of the country. In Sicily, my favorite island, you can hike in the mountains in the cool air during the day at Mt Etna, and after, lay on the beach until the evening with a glass of wine!
In addition to the diverse natural beauty, the food is just as diverse depending upon the region and area! I love the abundance of different dishes, from fish to pizza to pasta to meat, Italians have a special dish that showcases your favorite food! Because the Italians take such pride in their cooking, every dish is soulful and delicious, and the local traditions of the particular region are reflected in their cooking. Finally, the people initially are very welcoming. Their laid back lifestyle allows them to enjoy the beauty of their land, the taste of their food, and most importantly, allows them to share it with the rest of the world with open arms!”
Gina – Ohio, USA
“Italy is the home of my ancestors and I feel their presence when I am there; it’s a tranquil sense of belonging and being where I am meant to be, a great sense of acceptance. I love the artistry that informs all that Italians do from high art to architecture to the beautiful language and la Moda. The idea of dolce far niente: to take time to relax and smell the flowers, but also to enjoy life and the really important things, like family, a good meal, the natural beauty that surrounds us”.
Natalie – California, USA
“Being a second generation Italo-Americana, Italia calls to me ‘discover what your grandparents lived’. My family history is not here in the United States (although my homage, respect, and appreciation for the USA is vast). Had my people arrived here 250 years ago, I would identify with those who sought the ‘new world’ at that time in the 1750’s-1770’s. That is my history as an American Citizen, but not my history as a person/family.
I know about the early American settlers, how they lived, what they ate, what they grew, how the United States grew. What I don’t know, is all that information in relation to my people – the people in my genetic family history. So, for me, a trip to Italy, is to get a glimpse of what their hometown may have looked like.
In Italy, so many structures that were around in 1760 (and earlier) are still standing, are still functional…so I can imagine, my grandfather as an altar boy in San Michele Church in Solofra, his family crest still on the town building door, along with several other family crests, the town having changed little since his birth 1876. Me sitting in the same church “he” used to attend with his parents, where he was baptized, walking the same cobblestone streets he walked. Same for Foggia, Scheggia e Pascelupo, Assisi, the small towns where all my grandparents were born and grew up.
I love how a visit to Italy is a connection to my history as a person. A connection to my grandparent’s lives. A connection to why I eat the foods I eat, like the music I like, and say things the way I do. How the influence of Italy came thru my grandparents and influenced me. There are mannerisms and the way people ‘look’ in Italy that make me feel like I am back in my grandmothers home and the neighborhood I grew up in…it feels comfortable, it feels the same and satisfies a longing for the way things were when I was young but have since died out when my grandparents passed away.
I get the same feeling when I go back to my birthplace, here in the USA – 500 miles from where I now live. An Italian neighborhood where my grandparents raised my parents but our Italian neighborhood has changed a lot in 60 years. The small corner Italian grocers are gone, the Italian catholic church is closed, the Dante club no longer an Italian-community-focal-center. But when I visit Solofra, Lucca, Assisi…all those things are there – and it brings back the comforting memories of my childhood and my grandparents. So when I visit Italy, at least for a couple of weeks – I feel like I’m back surrounded by the same people, with all the same foods easily available, I’m back in time – I’m back home – and I love it!”
Suzanne – North Carolina, USA
“I love the warm and welcoming culture and atmosphere. I feel at home in Italy because the Italians are so warm and sweet. People would always go out of their way to talk to me or help me, and I don’t find that in the US. I felt the freedom to fully be myself while living in Italy!
I also love how I am constantly surrounded by beauty when I am there. Breakfast is beautiful, my walk to work is beautiful, dinner is beautiful, my interactions with people are beautiful! This quote describes how I feel: What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago. – Erica Jong
Life moves more slowly and is truly enjoyed in Italy. The language is melodic and fun, and so is everything about Italy, in my opinion. Every day I spent in Italy was filled with a new and lovely experience that I could not find anywhere else in the world. Veramente, il paese più bello del mondo!”
Sarah – California, USA
“I love the beauty, the art, the people, the food, the wine, the small towns, riding on the trains, being by the sea and also in the mountains, the uniqueness of each region. On all my trips to Italy, what I’ve loved most are the people I’ve met and the friends I’m sharing each fabulous experience with“.
Pat – California, USA
“For me, Italy is a very special place. There are so many things I like that it’s almost impossible to list them! Italian culture, the weather in summer, the beautiful beaches and beach clubs. And the food too! Mannaggia, I really love linguine alle vongole con il sugo bianco or la pasta allo scoglio! But, most importantly, Italy is a very special place because my parents come from there and so it’s a part of me“.
Nick – Michigan, USA
“When I think about why I enjoy Italy so much it’s a combination of many aspects of Italian culture working together that make the Italy experience such an all-encompassing one. The cultural experience starts with the architecture, hundreds of years old, the history, not only of Italy but of Western civilization, the wonderful food, which differs slightly region to region, the sound of the language, the connecting with strangers because they know I wasn’t born in Italy but for some reason am able to converse with them in Italian well enough, and of course the art, which is everywhere! For me, even walking thru the piazza, where the town’s life blood and ambiance can be seen and felt in everything around you!! In other words, it’s a total sensory experience that never ends!!”
Frank – California, USA
“What do I love most about Italy? This is an impossible question. There are so many things I love. But I guess I’ll choose the one thing that got me started on my path to love Italy and what keeps me going even when I can’t travel there…the Italian language. I love the way the words look on the page. I love the way it sounds when an Italian person is speaking it. I love the way ideas are expressed in Italian. I love the emotions that are expressed when speaking in Italian…the intonation and the gestures that go along with it. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful language in the world“.
Staci – California, USA
“My love affair with Italy began many years ago when I made my first trip with my father. I was in my late 20’s and already a mother of 3 young children. My father presented me with an opportunity to make up for a family European trip that I had missed out on a decade earlier. I jumped at the chance. Since then I have returned to Italy at least once every year, some years more often, and have explored many parts of this diverse place that I consider a second home.
It would be hard to say what I love the most about Italy, there are many obvious reasons that come to mind – the architecture, ancient and modern, the food and wine, different from region to region, the outstanding natural beauty, from the mountains to the sea and everywhere in between. However, I must say the things that attract me the most are the connection that Italians have with their past, their landscape, their food culture, their local traditions, and their love of family. At heart, I am a sentimental person, and these passions resonate with me and inspire me to continue to travel to new places in Italy and to soak up all I can of their way of life”.
Colleen – Florida, USA
“Italy is the country of culture and beauty but, most importantly, there are the Italians: cheerful, funny, welcoming, friendly, and very kind. They are really open-minded and have a strong sense of family and friendship. It’s a country where you feel good, it’s my favorite country“.
Kirsten – France