Some people have all the luck! And some countries are blessed with more than others; none more so than Italy.
This wonderful land of sunshine and song combines the most delightful features of the most beautiful countries in Europe. The ski resorts around Cortina d’Ampezzo may not be quite comparable to the best in Switzerland (or France, Austria and Germany), but the stunning mountain scenery of the Alto Adigein Italy’s far north is almost equal to Austria’s Tirol.
The lakes of Garda, Como and Maggiore are slightly warmer and more colourful versions of the spectacular lakes Lugano and Locarno of Switzerland’s Ticino.The Mediterranean shore line of Italy’s Sorrento Peninsular is a rival to that of France’s Cote d’Azur.The great Spanish cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada are famed for their beauty, their history and their uniqueness.
The Italian counterparts are Venice, Rome and Florence. These cities reflect an extraordinary imperial and renaissance past. The legacies of the great artists, musicians, scientists and inventors are evident in the buildings, the museums, galleries, concert halls and in everyday life, from the Coliseum to the Lambretta. Germany’s Wagner is Italy’s Verdi. Spain’s Velazquez is answered by Titian, Scotland’s Bell by Italy’s Marconi, France’s Dior by Armani.
The magnificent historical city of Istanbul is Italy’s Rome. In the 1960s, while my girlfriend fancied Rossano Brazzi and Marcello Mastroianni, I was mesmerised by Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale and Gina Lollobrigida. There can be no country in Europe with more beautiful, stylish women.
Moreover, Italy is arguably ahead of France and Spain in fashion and taste. And then there is the food. Personally, I love French, Indian and Japanese food and restaurants– but not as much as Italian. French cuisine relies more on (delicious) sauces, Indian is not quite so varied and I find Japanese less consistent. And Italy developed the staples of risotto, pizza and pasta to perfection.
French is widely regarded as the most beautiful language but, for me, it must come second to Italian. One of the great regrets of my life is never having persevered enough to progress beyond “che bellaragazza!” and “ho mangiato tuttii frutti di mare”. These words sound musically sublime, even when uttered by me.
In my experience, the Italians are generous, cultured and humorous. And Italy produced Leonardoda Vinci, almost certainly the most talented and creative human in history. Okay, England has better beer, more picturesque villages and a better cricket team but, in so many other fields, Italy excels.
Thank you for reading this article, “Italian Job – Italy wins”. For more from David Worboys, visit the Euro Weekly News website.