Friday, April 22, 2011

La Prima Volta...

Welcome to my new blog! Here I will be chatting about my favorite place to visit in all the world: Italy. Even without a drop of Italian blood in me, I'm still a raving, raging Italophile.

My first trip to Italy was in fall 1996. I didn't go as a tourist, but as a graduate student on a dissertation grant, and I didn't begin in Rome, Florence, or Venice. No, I began in Bologna, a great city which happily remains largely untouristed. I took a (long) train trip from Munich -- where I'd spent a week under gray, drizzly skies -- and after the usual careening Italian sort of taxi ride, found myself at a friendly, little one-star pensione, the Albergo Panorama, whose name I'd plucked from Let's Go Italy. It was dark, it was late, so I unpacked, trooped down the hall for a shower, and collapsed into bed.

When morning came, I dashed to the window to see the view promised by the pensione's Signora. Look, the hills beyond the city! Listen, are those Vespas? Is that a church bell? that coffee from the cafe across the street? Look, listen, smell...just like that, I knew. The way you know you're going to love a book from only ten pages, the way you know someone is going to be a real friend after just five minutes. Like many before me and many after, I would be transfigured by Italy.

As Miss Eleanor Lavish in "A Room With a View" would say, "And why should she not be transfigured? It happened to the Goths!"

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