Posts Tagged ‘Eat Pray Love’

Finding Rome on the Map of LoveShortly after arriving in Italy, I accepted an invitation to a book signing and reading event in Rome.  When I learned of the book’s subject matter (a thirty-something woman who finds love with an Italian and moves to Rome) I thought, Oh no, not another fairy tale about coming to Italy, having an affair with Marcello Mastroianni and living happily ever after!  Needless to say I was skeptical.  Seriously, is there anyone out there who could bring freshness to this tired and overly saturated genre of storybook fantasies alla Three Coins in a Fountain, Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love?  I know I sound jaded, but my expectations are low.

IMG_1262After a brief introduction author Estelle Jobson sat down on a cushion in the courtyard of The Beehive Hotel, opened her book, Finding Rome on the Map of Love, and began to read.  As I listened to her recount the stories, I noticed the corners of my mouth began to spontaneously turn upward.  Her elegant and proper South African accent was in sharp contrast to the wry, sardonic and sassy repartee.  Hey, this girl gets it!  When she finished I was a bit sad, but fortunately I’d purchased my very own autographed copy of the book and immediately cracked it open on the train back to Orvieto.

During the first couple of chapters, I was gulping down Estelle’s pages the way a typical American might eat their dinner: swallowing without taking time to taste.  Perhaps I’ve been in Italy long enough that a voice inside my head warned, “Don’t be in a hurry. Savor each flavor and texture.”  This book was just like a good Italian meal; I never wanted the literary feast to end. And when it did end, I felt warm and utterly satisfied.

IMG_1263Estelle Jobson is a talented writer who has a true gift for observation. She describes things that, as an expatriate, I’d experienced but was never able to fully articulate.  What appreciate most about Estelle’s storytelling is the way she doesn’t laugh at Italians, she laughs with them. Her book is filled with intelligent humor, compassion, and edgy insight. She’s sarcastic without being mean; clever without being pretentious; and emotional without being overly sentimental.  Estelle sees Italians the way they really are and reconfirms, at least for me, why I love living among them.

I’ll stay with the food analogy just a little bit longer. I really enjoyed chewing slowly on every single delicious “bite” of Finding Rome on the Map of Love. Her words were proprio buonissime! 

Enjoying my copy...

Enjoying my copy…

...in front of the...

…in front of the…

...Duomo di Orvieto.

…Duomo di Orvieto.

by Toni DeBella

You can contact the author at findingrome@gmail.com

Find her and her book on Facebook

ebook on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Rome-Map-Love-ebook/dp/B009HBLYYO/ 

Online extract here: http://italianintrigues.blogspot.ch/2012/10/the-socialization-of-italian-man.html




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"Orvieto Sunset"

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!

by Toni DeBella

“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 delaneypm@eircom.net.

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