Last year I spent many weeks in the south of Italy, this year the north.
I am more frightened, exhilarated and emotionally moved in the south. I feel Italy’s beating heart pounding in my ears in the south.I hear the music in the people’s calls on the street and am shocked by their crazy, irreverent behavior, filthy back streets and polluted streams.I am interested in what is to me, their extreme traditional values, and their cultural ways. I like the food of the deep south with it’s Spanish, Greek and Arab influences such as rice, lentils and chickpeas. The history and majesty are still there albeit amongst the motorini blaring and the frenetic souk like markets.
In the North, it is different. It feels a little more sanitized and comfortable. Apart from the language I feel like I could be in Switzerland, Austria or any other European area.
For me, the north is less strongly Italian somehow.It is beautiful, and delicious but less rich. There is less of the incredibly seductive raw realness of southern Italy. There are less stories of crime, tragedy and human suffering. The people seem more reserved and contained.
Of course, I have had a lovely time in all of it but what calls to me at night when my sirens are whispering for me to return? …it is the Mezzogiorno.