Wednesday, 12 June 2013

How to Live in Italy - Rebecca Helm-Ropelato

I have been reading How to Live in Italy: Essays on the charms and complications of living in paradise. It is a collection of short essays by American expat Rebecca Helm-Ropelato about her experience of moving to a town south of Rome. If you are Italian, or know someone who is, you'll probably (hopefully!) find yourself chuckling and nodding at these tales.

I can certainly identify with the local patriotism Helm-Ropelato talks about. Sure, we have a bit of this going on locally but the sense of loyalty to each region (complete with language, culture and food) is much more defined in Italy. Although I've never lived in Italy myself, I grew up in an Italian community where so many of the mannerisms Helm-Ropelato describes make perfect sense. It is fascinating to view them from an 'outside' perspective and I can sympathise; to us, the You know you're Italian when ... lists are the real thing!

It's refreshing to read stories of someone who hasn't moved to Tuscany. As beautiful as the region is, there is far more to Italy than restoring cliched villas in the north ... oops, there's my regional Italian patriotism coming through!

I laughed as I read the anecdote about movie dialogue being overdubbed into Italian. When in Rome (ha!), I went to see A Beautiful Mind, which had recently opened. I found what I thought was an English language cinema - all the posters were in English - but discovered within the first few seconds that I was in for two hours of struggling to follow a movie with my very limited Italian. I was also amazed at how fluently 'Russell Crowe' spoke Italian! I probably don't need to mentioned that I enjoyed the movie far more

How to Live in Italy is a delightful collection of tales and reflections for expats, locals and wannabe travellers. Download it for Kindle and temporarily transport yourself to paradise.

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