I have an Italian passport, a codice fiscale and my city library card. I received the “friend-of-a-friend” discount on my Roman root canal and get the locals’ price for my morning caffe latte. I’ve accumulated two tablecloths, four plug adapters, six wooden hangers, a set of espresso cups, a milk foamer, a bathmat and a thicker skin.
Going back and forth, arriving and departing, being here and then there makes my head spin! My months in Italy have passed at lightening speed; the countdown has begun and the melancholy is setting in. There is just over one week until I must return to my American “base camp”. I get confused about which place I can call home: San Francisco or Orvieto?
I’m often asked if I am living la dolce vita? Stereotypes and dopey clichés are the stuff of Hollywood films, tour companies and real estate agencies – images perpetuated to sell the fantasy. No, I don’t live either Under the Tuscan Sun or in The Dark Heart of Italy. Honestly, this kooky existence, even with its sometimes harsh reality, beats the Eat, Pray, Love version of romanticized Italy, hands down.
The other day I overheard one women whisper to another as they passed me on the street, “There’s that americana”. It sent me flashing back to my preteen, middle school days for a moment and then, suddenly, a satisfied smile came over my face because being the topic of town gossip, I decided, is much preferable to being invisible.
I know that I am still an outsider looking in, an invested observer circling around the perimeter of Italian life. I quite like the view from over here…for now. Sometimes you have to let things unfold at their own pace and in their own time. I’d rather stay in Italy, but I must go back. I cling to the hope that one day il destino will throw me the proverbial bone and I won’t have to leave. Until that time comes, I will make like a bad penny and just keep turning up!
“Orvieto Sunset” and the other images of Italy were contributed by Patrick Delaney, a fellow expat from Dublin, Ireland in the process of building a house in nearby Montecchio. Umbria. Patrick, an architect, has been painting in oils for ten years. He believes good paintings are about light and shade and atmosphere. His favorite artist is Caravaggio – he only wishes he could paint like him. (But mind you, he gets into as much trouble!) For more information about Patrick’s work, you can contact him at email@example.com.