italy - 2012

Italy is on one level, one of the few places on earth that lives up to the travel guide hyperbole. It is a living museum; an idyllic pastoral landscape dotted with medieval villages; a bustling metropolitan center full of crazy drivers and, yes, with little family-run 3 table trattorias with amazing food.

The people are friendly and the climate moderate.

But I have to admit to being conflicted with the country because beyond that, it is in some very real ways an anomaly in Europe: a culture stuck in the third world.

If you don't believe me, try to find anything other than Italian food in most any city (even in Rome it can be tricky). Try to find anybody who speaks a second language (even French or Spanish). Children live with their parents well into their 30's and men still expect their mother's to do their laundry even after they get married. Try to find a gay person who is intentionally out to their family.

Surprisingly, a country still caught in much of its agrarian, village history rather than the modern nation state one would expect.