...in at least a couple of ways, for which I've been extremely grateful. I've moped about missing Italy since that rainy spring day when we left, so I thought I should do a post giving a little credit where credit is due.
- You can wear shorts or sweats off base, guilt-free. By 'you' I mean 'me', of course. OK, you can wear shorts or sweats off base in Italy, and I was known to, but you may as well write UNCULTURED AMERICAN on your forehead with a sharpie. Whenever I did it I felt vaguely guilty, like I was letting Americans down by making us look bad (as if I could make Americans look bad in a town where paratroopers were frequently drunk and on the loose) or like I was at some point going to ruin some Italian's aesthetically pleasing day by tromping into it in my sweats and furry Crocs. (Hey, I had to wear them! The Frankenfoot took months to fit back into a show after that broken ankle. And they were oh-so-irresistably cozy.)
- Manners. I should specify: good manners. The prevalent anti-American sentiment here is all but invisible to us, because it's hidden by impecable manners. I lost track of how many times rude Italians made me cry.* How many Japanese people have made thin-skinned, hormonal Martha cry in 3 years? Zero. Just as I was shocked by how good American service seemed after 3 years in Italy, it will be utterly shocking how bad it seems after 3 years here. Who knows how many of the smiles have been fake...but frankly, I don't care!
::insert picture of road construction sign with bowing construction worker stick figure here::
- Free water in restaurants. Now, they ration it as if it's gold, but at least, in theory, it is free, and if you ask for refills enough times they will eventually bring you a pitcher. Water is literally more expensive than wine or soda in many Italian restaurants (and they will gladly bring you as many bottles of it as you want!).
- Ceramics. Oh, I may have just hit a nerve with that one amongst the Italy-friends. This--as opposed to anything else on this list, which is strictly scientific fact--is a personal preference. Yomitan ceramics are much more beautiful than Nove ceramics, in my opinion.
- Pastries. It took us two years, but we finally started discovering some jaw-dropping bakeries here. My tummy is both thankful and not, if you know what I mean. As lovely as the coffee is in Italy, we were usually disappointed with the pastries, other than the occasional brioche cioccolato. Here, the possibilities are endless (if you're willing to wait until 10 or even 11 AM, which is when the bakeries often open). And they tend to include less amaretto. Amaretto, in case you're wondering, if second only to citrus flavor in Unwelcome Dessert Tastebud Ambushes of Heinousness.
- International food. Italy and Japan are somewhat similar in their disinclination to acknowledge outsiders as "one of them". But in much of Italy, if you want non-Italian food, you're pretty much stuck with a kabob. Here, there is an abundance of...well, at least good attempts at food from elsewhere.
Shockingly, the Veneto plain doesn't have many lighthouses.
*Yes, I measure manners in units of "make me cry". Because I'm petty and immature like that.