I love Europe. The thing I enjoy most about being in Europe, aside from the fact that almost everyone you encounter is stunning (especially in Italy…more on that in a moment), the history is rich and the wine is delicious, is the slower pace of life. You can park yourself at a sidewalk cafe and literally watch the world go by for hours on end and be in the company of locals doing the exact same thing. Without a doubt, Europeans place a lot more value on their leisure time than Americans and I have got to tell you, it is so refreshing and more importantly, relaxing to be a part of this lifestyle for a few days.
Appearances matter in Italy. The Italians live by the code bella figura and it is more than just dressing well. It extends to the aura a person projects too. La bella figura represents the Italian concept that you must always look and act your best in every situation. It translates roughly to “beautiful image” and is a central part of Italian culture.
Regardless of their socioeconomic status, Italians are well-dressed and artfully groomed people, and they also seem to naturally move, stand, and sit in a manner that makes them look their best. A task not easily accomplished by this clumsy, you (us) with compliments and even holding you. In fact, our waiter last night showed you off to other diners. It would seem that you have already tapped into your bella figura and are making new friends left and right.
For all of the wonderful things that Italy is, I am so surprised at how touristy and comercialized it has become. I vaguely remember being here with my parents back in 1983, when my father had to see everything Michelangelo; his birth place, homes, schools, tomb and the famous statues he created alike and with that trip, Florence became one of my dad’s favorite cities in the world. I think he’d be quite disappointed in today’s Florence. The simple charm that once made this city unique has been replaced by graffiti and high-end retail stores. I am hoping during our last days we can find some of that charm by taking a day trip out of the city to visit Pisa and Lucca.
The best is yet to be.