Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Writing this blog has made me realise what a miserable sod I am. Right now I feel... dislocated. Tomorrow, no doubt, I’ll have moments full of the joys of... oh no, that’s not right, ‘cause January is crap, but you get my gist. And, what with me being human, those happy moments’ll be the ones I remember. But these confused thoughts I have are just as part of my life as all that good stuff we tell everybody about. So I will write about them.

I like Verona. I like the panificio on one side of the flat and I like the quaint little bar on the other side. I like the friends I’ve made and I love the fact that the top of the ski lift is just a couple of hours from my front door. But... but but but. It’s too small. If I want to go for a city walk there’s nowhere I don’t already know that isn’t anonomous suburbia, and that’s no fun. True, there are bars and trattorie that still need exploring but where can we easily go to dance when the mood suddenly takes us on a Saturday night? Table football can only go so far.

But most of all, it all feels a bit too provincial. This is going to sound stupid but: everything is Italian. Let me put that into perspective. There are very few immigrants (and, to the shame of Italy, open racism isn’t uncommon). There are few restaurants that aren’t Italian. And there’s no flexibility for alternative daily routines. As Tim Parks puts it in his book Italian Neighbours: “..if you want to order a cappuccino con brioche you should try to arrive before ten thirty. Of course, you could still order the same thing later, but this would be a declaration of your foreignness.” It’s funny, yes, but, coming from a country that I’m fast realising is one of the most adaptive and flexible on the planet, and especially coming from 24-7 London Town, I resent the idea that my habits will be culturally dictated to me. This, as a friend said to me over the Christmas break, is the price of cosmopolitanism.

Don’t misunderstand me. Broadly I’m happy, and enjoying life; there’s enough here for me for now. But I can’t imagine staying here forever. Right now, I’m thinking of this as the one-year option; next year I’ll be in a bigger town. But, like I said, I’m a moody bastard, and no doubt after another night in the local osteria, after another delightful bowl of spaghetti con funghi, and after another pretty Italian decides to sleep with me, la dolce vita will have spun its charms once more. Starting this blog, I was determined not to resort to cliches of Italy but here I give in: it’s a confusing fucking place, infuriating and wonderful all at once. I want out but, oh, ok; just one more glass.

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