Lazy and beautiful: a reflection on my quick trip around Northern Italy
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My extraordinary laziness has nothing to do with me being a student. It is just who I am. In my old age, I expect I will still procrastinate over tasks such as the laundry or the dishes, and then take ages when I get around to doing them. It's just my nature. Last year, I spent entire afternoons preparing for a university lecture which was always held in the early evening, and which most of the time wasn't worth the effort. Everyone knows the stereotypes about Italians. They have ancient and beautiful cities, with streets lined with expensive tailors and perfumeries - but it's hard work finding a sandwich. Eating a meal, invariably pasta, is a special event, to be enjoyed with friends and neighbours over several hours. They drink and smoke and screw one another like rabbits. They go through roughly ten Prime Ministers a decade, and each of them has the chief of police in their pocket, or are themselves the plaything of some shady mafia figure. But at least they have world-class ice cream and good weather to keep the show on the road. Besides, they don't give a toss. Oh, and they're dead lazy. I’m fine with most of all that, but despite being a naturally slovenly person, I'm not sure I could live in a lazy country, even if to a certain extent that is only a stereotype. Mussolini, so they say, made the trains run on time, and for the weekend I was back in Italy they generally did. Nevertheless, I'm still never completely comfortable with the Italian way of life. Norway, where I had flown in from and have been living on exchange for the past five months, is a country where everything seems flat-packed and super-efficient and clean to the point of sterility. It is also cold, so it was nice to take a break for the snow in a country where everything is much more scruffy, open, and, although it is warmer in some ways, more chilled. That said, not everything is 'open' all of the time. Try going to a picturesque fishing village, such as Portofino, in the northern region of Liguria, on a rainy day in the middle of winter, and see what kind of reaction you get. What few cafes were open treated us like aliens newly arrived from another world. Those who generally prefer life in the big city so often forget that the more rural corners of the world still rely on the rhythms of the weather and business seasons. Otherwise, there really is no rush.
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