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6 Lessons Learned: What Do Our Italian Friends Teach Us?
JULY 11, 2004 - Any journey to another country is an education. I try to keep pen and paper nearby whenever I go to Italy, so I can keep track of all the things I am learning. Here's a peek - just a peek - at what my Italian friends and family have taught me so far:
1. How to make a delicious meal on the spur of the moment. All you need to do is boil linguini (which should always be in your cupboard), and then add olive oil, fresh garlic and if you want Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The dish is called "aglio olio" or "garlic olive oil" and it is absolutely delicious! Your spur-of-the-moment guests will think you are a gourmet.
2. "Esce l'odio, entra l'amore." ("Out of hate comes love.") By paying attention to the Italian couples I know - and Umberto Tozzi's songs - I learned this valuable lesson. If you care enough to hate someone or something, eventually your passion will turn to love. There is no sense in fighting nature. Your best bet is to succumb.
3. The metric system can be useful. Okay, so Americans never caught on to this lesson, even back in the '70s when the government tried to switch over to the European system. But when communicating with Italians about weight, height or even the weather, the metric system comes in handy. And the scientific community turned to the metric system at its inception in the 1790s in France. All those people can't be wrong. Thanks to modern technology, you don't even have to remember the conversions anymore. Just head to a Web site like World Wide Metric for its conversion calculators.
4. Chamomile is a panacea. Have a bellyache? Drink chamomile. Have a headache? Drink chamomile. Broken heart? Chamomile. Bad hair day? Chamomile. I think you get the idea.
5. The sun is still splendid. I know zillions of dermatologists warn us about the dangers of worshiping the sun. But in moderation and armed with plenty of strong sunblock, we can do like the Italians and go to the beach again. The southern Italians I know say that a day on the beach is peace on Earth. I'm now a believer. "O sole mio" certainly boosts my mood and makes me feel like singing. Let the light in.
6. Always say good-bye as though it will be the last time you'll ever see each other. Hug tighter. Kiss more. Cry if you feel like it. When you live far away from your friends and family in Italy, you usually don't know when you'll get to see each other again. You have no choice but to make every good-bye count.
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