Although Italy has taught me to nurture a neurotic need for aesthetic perfection, I am not much of a scenery girl. And, while I do prefer palaces to skyscrapers, I'm seldom subject to the wide-eyed ‘wow' that gives weak knees to those who marvel at Tuscan hillsides and fifteenth-century cityscape. The fact that I was born without a sense of direction probably contributes to my lack of landscape-based enthusiasm. I can pass the same building three times in 10 minutes without realizing that I'm retracing my steps. In fact, I can live in the same building for three years and not know how to get there from the freeway exit.
For many, Italy's seductive powers lie in the physical beauty of her landscape, the curve of her geography and the color of her frescos. My own infatuation for this country is primarily auditory. The buzz of a crowded café, the sound of high heels on cobblestone and even the screech of skidding Vespas somehow profoundly speak to me. Italy's language fills the air with a lightness and humor I have not found elsewhere. Its supple flexibility, the versatility of its vocabulary and the sheer variability of its dialects enchant me. In a word, I'm a word-geek and Italy is the end-all and be-all.
This country has six definite articles. Il-lo-la-i-gli-le. Even those who do not normally swoon at the sound of syllables have to admit that people who invented six ways to say ‘the' make great conversation partners. To me, il-lo-la-i-gli-le works like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.