So, the day before New Year’s, we took off for a nine-day road trip to Tuscany. Now on day six. It has been AWESOME. Of course, it’s very difficult to have a less-than-awesome vacation in Tuscany. However, the signs were not propitious for this one. First the car broke down. We were able to get a rental car, but the choices were limited at the last minute before a holiday. We ended up with a nine-seater black panel van that made us look either like bank robbers or participants in the Witness Protection Program.
Then there was (and is) the Teenage ‘tude problem. Our daughter is now mature enough not to see a week with her parents as an ordeal (especially when they are paying the bills). But it took two hours to get our oppositional son in the car the day we left. And now he has refused to leave the farmhouse that we are staying in for days. Which has not slowed us down at all. He’s old enough to hang out by himself, after all, and if he wants to live on cereal and PBJs for a week that’s his choice. But still, it’s a shame that 1/4 of the family hasn’t seen all the cool stuff here or eaten the amazing food. One day, he’ll be smacking his forehead big time. You can imagine how sympathetic I’ll be.
Despite the hassles, I really needed to get out of Austria. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain, but I can’t help it. I just don’t feel at home there. It has become very clear to me that I should be posted to Italy instead. Five principal reasons:
1.) The weather. I am not a cold, damp, gray sort of person. In fact, that kind of weather makes me depressed. My mood did a 180 as soon as I saw that Tuscan sunshine–which is pretty strong even in winter!
Therefore, for mental health reasons, I think I should be posted to Italy, ASAP. (And in the meantime I am committed to using that “happy light” every single morning in Vienna!)
2.) The food. I am just not a big fan of Austrian food. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. Rich, bland, and frequently over-salted. The street food is good, though you can’t live on it–you’d be dead of a heart attack in a year. The pastries are, of course, lovely, but you can’t live on those, either. Italian food, on the other hand, is healthy and just wonderful. Full of flavor, occasionally spicy, and always accompanied by real, fresh vegetables that I actually recognize, like tomatoes or zucchini.
Therefore, for dietary reasons, I think I should be posted to Italy, ASAP.
3.) The wine. Italian wine is dry. Most Austrian wine is on the sweet side. Not into that. And then they have these “spritzers” and “sturms” which give me Bartles and Jaymes flashbacks. Not good.
Therefore, for vinicultural reasons, I think I should be posted to Italy, ASAP.
4.) Art and design. Austrians have two primary styles going on: Baroque and Tyrolean. A person can get tired of either one pretty quickly. I was over Baroque by the time we left Prague. I really don’t need to see another fluffy, over-the-top church. Tyrolean schmaltz I can take in small doses. A painted cabinet here, a pretty tablecloth there. But it is very easy to overdo, and very often that’s what happens.
In Tuscany, Romanesque, medieval and Renaissance styles rule. From the earth tones, to the wrought iron, to the boxy buildings, it’s all simple, beautiful, and good. I have always had a thing for early Christian art. I love the strong lines, the iconography, and even the awkwardness of it. It has soul in a way that fluffy Baroque cherubs just don’t.
Therefore, for aesthetic reasons, I believe I should be posted to Italy, ASAP.
5.) Shabbiness. I am southern, after all. And, all our previous posts have either been in the third world or in Eastern Europe. Shabby feels like home I mean really, people, there are better things to do in life than constantly repainting houses or scrubbing streets.
Italy looks lived-in. I am a Cancer. Lived-in is what I do. Therefore, for astrological reasons, I believe I should be posted to Italy, ASAP.
I just don’t know how much clearer I could possibly be. I obviously belong in Italy. When will the State Department get a clue?
I am all for you with Italy. I have only been as far south as Rome, but I love the Florence, Venice areas. Next time, you can pack me in your witness protection van next to kid with ‘Tude, and I will give him some heck.
Italy was our first Foreign Service post, and I would go back in a heartbeat. FOr the food, the wine, the sunshine, the art, and the not-so-shabby men. And of course, for the music.
I think those are some pretty compelling reasons to be posted there!! I’d send you! 🙂 I adored San Gimignano when we went there 7 years ago. The pottery is so gorgeous!
i absolutely agree with all of your reasoning. And also, that van? Totally for bank robbers or secret agents.
Your blog is linked in the FS Blog RoundUp.
I love your appreciation of the ‘lived in’ look! (I’m a Cancer too)