Sunday, May 27, 2007

And this is La Dolce Vita?!

The long and short of Mollydog's first installment is: Happiness is Croatia in your rear view mirror! As she pointed out, they have a ways to go there on several levels before approaching the Slovenian post-Yugoslavia standard...

But back, back, back to Italia, the first stop on this voyage of discovery in the New Central Europe. The only trouble with the New Central Europe is that you can really only fly conveniently to Vienna or Budapest, and we wanted to end UP in Budapest, so we headed for Malpensa airport--which, if you go by the French, means "bad thought," not a good sign--and the city of Milan, which some people will know from the Pepperidge Farm Mint Milano cookies. The Italians call it Milano...they just have to add extra vowels to everything. Anyway, we boarded a very slow, ponderous bus for Central Station and were on our way east within a couple of hours.

Train stations, like shopping malls, tend to look the same. If you're jet-lagged, you tend to forget where you are from time to time. At Venezie station, though, there was no forgetting, because suddenly we were observing the close interaction between a young woman and her boyfriend across the train platform. With all the groping and face-sucking going on, you might've been tempted to yell, "get a room," but then the young woman lit a cigarette. From that time on, she took little face-sucking breaks to inhale deeply from the cigarette and blow some quality smoke in the direction of the stopped train. We really wondered which she preferred--her boyfriend or the cigarette!

Further on, a woman sitting across from us struck up a conversation in passable English. She wondered where we were going, and we told her--Slovenia. She made a face and asked how it was that we could skip Italy. We said we hadn't come to visit Italy. Undeterred, she launched into an Italian chamber-of-commerce spiel about how much history, architecture, culture, cuisine and delight could be found in Italy. Unthinkable to pass it by, even if you never intended to visit. We tried to explain our interest in the new, rather than the old, Europe, but she cut us off. "There's nothing to see in Slovenia," she concluded, dismissing us with a little wave of her hand. That was a blast from the always read about italian-slovenian animosity stemming from territorial disputes, and here it was in the flesh, undergirded by haughtiness and arrogance.

The Italy we glimpsed on our way to Slovenia wasn't the stuff of legend we had so often heard about at fact, we were nonplussed by it and wondered how we had missed the spirit of "La Dolce Vita" that is supposed to envelop you the moment you step onto Italiano soil...

1 comment:

german said...

atleast franz would rest well knowing all roads still lead to vienna and budapest. some things never change