|Outdoor living in Italy|
Italy isn't like that. First of all, houses come in three sizes: apartment-sized, house and castle. Apartment-sized flats for sale in Rome, for instance, start at about 300,000 euros and look like this: 800 square feet, a forest of satellite dishes, maybe a small terrace, and if you're lucky, a temperamental elevator. You try schlepping up five flights of stairs carrying two bags of groceries and a six-pack of water. It'll make you swear off religion.
Elevators in Italy are not the sleek modern kind we're used to seeing in the U.S. First, there's a door problem--as in, if you fail to remember to close the outside doors and the inside doors, the elevator won't work. That means you're walking, pal, hauling your groceries up flights and flights of stairs in flimsy plastic bags. All just part of the adventure!
|Italian elevator--note the double set of doors|
Roman flats are far from glamorous (most of them) and you pay a lot of money to live there. This is ROME, of course, so you don't care. Fewer steer horns, more linguine. Apartments in Rome are, comparatively speaking, mostly cramped and utilitarian. Many have plain white walls, spiral-shaped low-consumption light bulbs dangling on a wire from the ceiling, and a single bathroom. Mismatched IKEA furniture or grandma's hand-me-downs? Absolutely. The truth is, credit is scarce, and most people aren't willing to shell out thousands of euros for showroom furniture.
Italians don't care about making a decorating "statement". What they care about is family and functionality. And you can't have a house full of designer furniture and invite family over for protracted Sunday dinners if said family includes adorable munchkins with sticky hands. Family knows all about you, so why try to impress them? Half the time, they're the ones helping you foot the bills anyway, so if you're spending cash on new furniture, you'll have some explaining to do.
|Italian Angolo Cottura or corner kitchen|
American idea of Italian food: overcooked spaghetti and extra cheese. Italian idea of Italian food: spaghetti cooked to exquisite perfection (called al dente or "to the tooth"), a savory homemade tomato sauce, and cheese, sure, but only as an appetizer. Food is a subject of worship here, which is very humbling because I grew up making dinner by pressing the buttons on a microwave.
|The charm of air-dried laundry|
|Saint Padre Pio|
|Roof line of Civita Castellana, Italy|
Twenty or thirty lesser countries were sacrificed to make just one Italy. Work/life balance? They've perfected it. Delicious food? They've mastered it. Their way of life is completely different from what I was raised with in Texas--and I admire them fiercely for it.
In Italy, life is about family. Houses are about family. And family is always there for you. That's the Italian way.
For more about Stacey, click here.