My recent sojourn (it wasn’t really a sojourn, I just wanted to use that word) in the land of Ferrari’s and cologne-doused men has left me with the conclusion that Italians are a charming nation of cigarette-fueled, carbohydrate-synthesising, love-machines (though I’ve no personal proof on the love-machine front - I’m just going on what we were told by a 70yr old waiter in Florence).
Phase one of the journey, naturally, was grooming for the flight. Why in heaven’s name women do this, I’ll never know. It’s not as if when you check-in grooming police will ask to see if you’ve shaved your legs or not. Nevertheless, shaved, clean and well scented is how I prefer to travel. Just as well really, because flying via Dubai requires you to practically strip naked before you’re allowed through security. Imagine the horror of stripping off to reveal body-hair. Oh the shame!
Possibly the best part about long-haul flights (in addition to the unlimited supply of Bloody Mary’s and not having to cook) is that it’s possible to arrive at your destination looking younger than when you left. I leave home with my face as naked as the day it was born so that when I reach the sample counters at duty free I can apply, with gay abandon, all the extremely expensive face cream that I can lay my hands on. It’s a wonderful thing, this sampling business. Have you seen how much that gold La Prairie shit costs?
Possibly, I take it one step too far with the perfume testers. I have to. When else am I ever going to smell of Dior? So spray, spray, spray it is. My travelling companion (Exotica of Beaver-hat fame) complained and developed instant hay fever just sitting next to me.
Romans are pretty wild drivers and consequently, crossing a road in Rome is by far the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do, second only to playing a game of toss-the-grenade in Baghdad. I’m not sure if their edginess on the road is as a result of their carb consumption (something insulin related I’m thinking) or the nicotine overload, but all I can say is that every driver has ‘Schumacher eyes’. Yes, they see you trying to cross the road but give you the death stare, challenging you to the ultimate game of chicken.
When in Rome (excuse the pun) I remembered, a few times over, that shopping is an activity for which I have no stamina. I also remembered, a few times over but all too late, that Exotica is quite good at it. Worse luck, she has a penchant of second-hand shops, especially where the garments have been pre-owned by the very poor. Charity shops make me instantly bored and inwardly (OK, sometimes outwardly) I do enough eye-rolling to induce an epileptic fit.
However, the outings to something in the region of 14 charity shops was not all in vain as I came away with the useful insight that charity shops world-wide smell of crotch. Maybe because it’s impossible to launder leather trousers?
When I explain this to Exotica (who remained entirely non-pulsed by my eye-rolling), our lovely Italian friend and self appointed tour-guide CaraMia* says,
‘Whata eesa crotch?’
I point to my nether parts. She nods sagely. Exotica interjects, ‘they don’t smell of crotch, maybe just a bit of feet’ because after all, this is by far preferable to crotch.
‘Yes’, agrees CaraMia, sampling the air in the shop once again.
‘Eesa mora ofa feet’.
As punishment for all the charity shops, I made Exotica come with me to all the posh shops on Via Condotti where I would have to say, the effort is somewhat disproportionate to the effect. I realise that I’m a total Philistine when it comes to being fashion-forward but really, is all that embellishment and bling necessary? Do I look like I’m about to turn all rodeo cowboy?
Here’s what else I noticed. The kids there are all really smart. If you can believe it - they all speak Italian! What’s more, they all have sexy, husky, gravelly voices as if they too started off their day with a Gauloises Blonde.
Dog collars are big in Rome. There’s even a touristy calendar you can buy of Vatican Hotties. Not surprisingly, no such calendar exists for nuns. Their outfits are only half as fetching. Apparently, visible head-hair is the clincher when it comes to sex appeal. Visible facial hair, however, is permitted. We hatched a plan (behaving like total teenagers) to make a ‘Tourist Calendar of Hotties’ but got so over-excited when the time came to photograph the fellows that all the shots came out horribly blurred. Such a pity. They were to be Christmas presents for our girlfriends.
I’d go to Italy again in a heartbeat. I can’t think of any other country that gets away with quite so many weird sunglasses, quite so much carbs, quite so many man-scarves, quite so many handsome men, quite so much aperitivo’s and quite so many pullover’s draped across shoulders.
P.S. TooFastTooFurious asked me this morning if I have any jewelry I’d be willing to sell as he’s saving up for an electric scooter. Mr. PP said he can’t get one because we all want things we can’t have. ‘Like Mom’, he says, ‘Mom wants a Lamborghini but she just can’t get one’. Still, do you think I need to hide the heirlooms?
*CaraMia is not her real name. I’m not telling you her real name.