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Italy: Experienced Through The Senses

Italy is probably the most sensual of all places to live, and I don’t just mean because Sophia Loren lives there!  If you are looking for a feast for the senses then Italy is the place to go.  North or south, east coast or west coast, “mare o monti” – the sea or the mountains – each area or region offers its own delights.

The Italian people are very unique.  They are true examples of how to live in the moment, how to savor each and every moment of each day.  If they are happy they express it – loudly and richly.  If they are angry they express it – loudly and richly.  They mourn openly – loudly and richly.  They celebrate exuberantly – loudly and richly. Laughter and tears are the mainstay of everyday.  It is impossible not to feel alive in Italy.

When you arrive in Italy there is an immediate awareness of color.  Houses are painted rich ochre, pale yellow, dusty pinks, and olive greens.  If a house is painted white you can be sure the “persiane” (the window shutters) will be a rich blue or red or green. And balconies and gardens are full of geraniums and other brightly colored flowers.

Food is prepared fresh from the market to the table.  It is cooked in the simplest and quickest way possible to seal in flavor and retain natural colors.  Natural herbs and spices are used sparingly, except for garlic, and rarely are more than two or three herbs used in the same dish.  That would confuse the palate.  The aromas are saliva-inducing. The sight of a plate of fresh pasta or fresh vegetables can bring tears of joy to the eyes, and the tastes are mouth-wateringly exquisite.  The smell of espresso cafe permeates everything, and the bread – oh the bread!! No Italian restaurant in America in my experience (with the exception of one that I will mention at the end) comes anywhere near “authentic Italian cuisine”.

Fashion is high on everyone’s agenda in Italy and here again color is the order of the day. Everyone dresses well whether they frequent the top end fashion boutiques or the local market.  The latest styles and the latest colors are available at all prices.  Each street, piazza (square), coffee shop and restaurant is a catwalk, and everyone’s a model.

Italians do not live quietly.  Conversations in cafes or restaurants, in the market or on the beach are loud. Traffic is loud.  Televisions and radios are loud.  Music is loud.  Life is lived to the fullest. And all this lends itself to the undeniable fact that you are alive.

And the final sense – touch.  Oh yes, Italians are very tactile.  When they talk with each other they touch each other.  Hands are placed on arms, on shoulders, around shoulders, on cheeks.   As they walk along the street they are arm in arm, hand in hand.  Lovers stop and kiss as the most natural thing in the world. There is a sense of intimacy, of caring about each other in all the little everyday affairs of life.

My heart and my soul miss Italy on an every day basis.  I miss the colors, and the sounds, and the smells.  I miss the joy of everyday living that Italians infuse into their lives.  I miss feeling so completely alive on every level.

P.S. The restaurant that I referred to above is called Fratelli La Bufala and is located in the Beaches area of Miami.  When you open the door your senses are assaulted (in the most wonderful way imaginable!) by the sights, sounds and aromas of Naples, Italy.  They specialize in fresh mozzarella (I mean FRESH, as in flown in twice a week directly from Naples, Italy!!) and bufala meat dishes, as well as wonderful pizza cooked in a brick pizza oven.  Buon appetito!