Trevi Fountain, Rome.
I once sold books in Italy.
It was, what people commonly refer to, as a ‘character building’ experience.
Which is another way of saying – it was a crock of shit.
The job, that is, not Italy.
I love Italy.
If you haven’t been to Rome289, you must try to if you possibly can. (Not as easy for some readers as it is for others.) Not only is it one of the most stunning cities on the planet, (and I’ve been to at least three), it is also the birthplace of that famous empire spanning five centuries.
The Forum, Rome.
Wherever you turn you are confronted by an ancient monument or building, some dating back a couple of millennia, such as the Pantheon290, the Colosseum291 the Palatine292 and the Trevi Fountain293.
The Pantheon, Rome.
Obviously, there’s The Vatican294 too, which is well worth a visit, even if you’re not a cat lick. I’m not at all religious and my eyes didn’t start burning at the sight of St. Paul’s295.
The view of St. Paul’s through a keyhole which I’ve peeped through!
I’ve never ventured further south than the Amalfi296 coast, (south of Naples297). There are spectacular cliff-top towns such as Sorrento298, Positano299 and Amalfi itself. Nearby is the wondrous relic of Pompeii300 which takes you back in time to when Mount Vesuvius301 erupted and preserved many buildings, artefacts and people! Then there’s the gorgeous island of Capri302 just a short boat ride away.
Walked up those steps. Amalfi.
Positano, Amalfi coast.
The island of Capri.
North of Rome, you have Florence303, Pisa304 and the Apennines305, (which our Pennine range is named after). On the west coast there are the marble producing towns of Carrera306 and Massa307 where the river runs white from the quarries in the mountains. And the sophisticated tourist spot of Viareggio308 on the coast.
And who could forget Venice309 in the north east? Seat of the once-mighty Borgias. A stupendous sinking city amidst an intricate maze of canals. In summer, the weather is to die for. Seriously, it is. I once got sunstroke in Lido de Jesolo310, so pack plenty of factor 50 if you’re a pale-blue-skinned Anglo Saxon, like me.
Then there’s the food. Obviously, pizza and pasta are top of mind. But spare a though for the taste bud tingling chicken cacciatore311 or bistecca pizzaiola312. You can’t beat a bowl of Penne Picante313 or a simple pepperoni and anchovy pizza314 in a traditional trattorria315. All washed down with your favourite tipple – in my case, (case being the optimum word), of Barolo316.
Does it have tomatoes in it? I’ll have it. Pollo alla cacciatore.
Food of the gods.
Let us not forget the pioneering artists: Leonardo da Vinci317, Michelangelo318, Raphael319, Giotto320, Botticelli321, Titian322, Donatello323, Caravaggio324 and my old favourite – Modigliani. You can hardly turn a corner without bumping into a masterpiece.
Anatomical studies by Leonardo da Vinci.
Michelangelo’s ‘David’. (Detail.)
If you like art, you’ll love Italy. If you like ancient architecture, you’ll love Italy. If you like history, you’ll love Italy. Most of all, if you like pizza, you’ll love Italy.
And yes, I can speak Italian. But only if you want to talk about books. (Specifically, encyclopaedias.)
Of course, there are many Italian delights that I have yet to discover. Maybe after I’ve sold my first million copies. Speaking of which, check out this piccolo classico…