I blame Spain for the fact I have been in Italy for the past 19 years… basing my life changing decision on the result of a football match during the 1994 World Cup. Whichever one wins, that’s where I’ll go. Italy won, and that’s where I went.
I haven’t bought a run down crumbling villa for £25 to lovingly restore. I have never trod a grape or picked an olive with toothless but friendly locals. I do not think Italy is paradise on earth. I do not spend my time discussing my latest travelogue with other financially secure expats and neither Rick Stein nor Jamie Oliver have ever visited my kitchen for help in their culinary quest for regional specialities. I have not exactly been welcomed into the bosom of an extended family presided over by a homemade pasta wielding matriarch. I have not tried to become One Of Them. I do not deride everything from my home country.
I have laughed and cried here. I have good friends. I have people who drive me mad. I have given birth in a foreign language and have an Italian-English daughter to prove it. I have an Italian-Italian handsome swain who sleeps in vests. I have mould on my bathroom walls and find food prices here extortionate. I rarely travel round to see the rest of the country. Too busy making ends meet.
In short I do not look at my adopted country through rose tinted glasses, but I do look at it, long and hard, and frequently with an open-mouthed and slightly vacant bemused expression on my face which I attempt to convey here.

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