Sunday, May 24, 2015

What I Bought in Italy (Hint: Not Leather Goods)

Well, first and foremost, books. I bought tons of books while I was in Italy. Just ask my shoulder.

I bought two hardbacks of the remaining Elena Ferrante novels I have not read.

A book of interviews with famous Italians about the state of the country. A picture book for Leo about "Pimpa" (an Italian cartoon dog) going to Florence, and learning about Dante and Florentine history.

The Paolo Giordano novel that's gained success, in translation, in America.

But other things, too.

A brown shoulder bag with the Vespa logo. Magnets. Because you need them. For your fridge. No?

Placemats. Because they have Italian words on them. A t-shirt. (Because it has Italian words on it. Are you sensing a pattern? I bought the books for that reason, too, ahem). A sunny orange Fiat 500 t-shirt for our little driver.

I look at my haul of Italian treats, and honestly I feel a little guilty. So much consumption! But on the other hand, I was catching up. A 10-year absence from Florence is no small hiatus. And besides, after posting photos here of the gifts Mike has brought back for me from Italy for years, this is the first time I can build a "shrine" of my favorite Italian things that consists entirely of items I bought. Because I was there! There, in Italy! Me!

The real souvenirs, arguably, are the ones lining my pockets and the bottom of the suitcase. The scontrini – receipts – from all of the ciambelline, and cappuccini and books and bus tickets and magazines and snacks I bought. I know from experience that they truly remain long after the actual items have disappeared, been consumed or wear out from overuse. They're distinctive because they're different from American receipts and often of uniform size and rendering. They tell a tale of where I’ve been. (In fact, I find Italian receipts everywhere in our house.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to buy the everyday things Italians buy, and which I bought when I lived in Florence. House shoes, for example. Biscotti from the supermarket – not fancy, not actually intended for Vin Santo – rather, the ones for breakfast. Or saffron. Or a type of bean called "giganti" that Mike wanted for a recipe.

Va bene, pace, maybe next time. Whenever that may be. And may it be very soon!

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