Italy has always held a fascination for me, for many reasons. The language has such energy and is spoken with a passion that makes it musical. An Italian reciting a shopping list is sexy as hell.

There’s also the food. Pasta I love, although I wouldn’t want too much of it. Pizza, but only with a thin crust is the way to go but it is mostly the simple fresh ingredients that attract me. Those amazingly flavoured tomatoes, the herbs, and the fish! Ahhh!  Although the cuisine varies drastically between the rich, meaty recipes of the north to the simple, vegetable based dishes in the south, it is always mouthwatering.

The landscape itself is breathtaking, with beautiful historic architecture as found in cities like Florence and Rome, and the utterly unique and ethereal floating city of Venice. One of my favourite films, ‘Don’t Look Now’, was set in Venice and I still find the hairs standing up on the back of my neck whenever I watch it. (And that’s before I’ve even got to the scary bit.)

The coastal regions are mostly very pretty (there are ‘touristy’ spots that don’t quite do it for me but that’s true of most places). But just think of the Amalfi coast, of Sorrento, Postiano and Amalfi itself…go on just think…driving along in that convertible…I know, takes you there, doesn’t it?

Italians have their own sense of style too. As much as I love French style, the Italians seem to have their own take on it, and it works. I loved being in Lake Garda for my fiftieth birthday, watching the locals on their passeggiata, their early evening stroll, dressed up with heads held high. I would say in Italy, the fashions are more colourful than in France and perhaps with a little more display of wealth.  But I could spend hours and hours watching them, the men taking just as much care over their appearance as the women, as they saunter along like film stars.

I am so desperate to revist Italy. As I mentioned before, I spent a week in Lake Garda four years ago, staying at a beautiful lake front hotel, the Grand Hotel Gardone, which seemed infused with old fashioned elegance. Winston Churchill used to stay there, and it is the sort of place where one could imagine him still strolling along the plush carpeted corridors, down to the a la carte restaurant for dinner.

I did go to Venice briefly as a child, but it left its mark on me and I feel so drawn towards it, although I suspect that I will visit out of season, as I know that in summer visitors flock from everywhere and I’m surprised that the sheer weight of them doesn’t make the whole place disappear beneath the water.

I have also been motor racing in Italy. I was there for my eighteenth birthday, sitting outside in Rimini, on the busy walkway having dinner with a Formula 2 racing team. It made the whole day feel incredibly glamorous and I felt like a young Sophia Loren even if I didn’t look like one.

Do you understand my passion for Italy? Have you visited or worked there? Is it somewhere you want to visit?

© Linny Bartlett/Karma’s Footsteps

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