Friday, December 3, 2010

Travel is more fun - hell, life is more fun - if you can treat it as a series of impulses

I mentioned in my previous Neither Here Nor There post that the Italy portion of Bryson's journey through Europe is my favorite part and this post would most likely just be a series of quotes.  I gave you a little bit of false hope that this might be something other than that, but nope!  I love Bryson's voice in his writing and I love Italy so I think the best thing to do is to share my favorite quotes from the Italy chapters.  These are the quotes that made me laugh, reminded me of Italy or, most often, a little of both.

I feel I should, at least briefly, explain my Italian infatuation.  First, despite the red hair, I am part-Italian.  I'm originally from Northern New Jersey (think Sopranos locales and please ignore Jersey Shore) so I grew up assuming everyone was at least a little Italian.  And because my grandmother is very proud that she is Italian and my other non-Italian relatives didn't really seem to care too much about their background, I most identify with this portion of my heritage.  Second, I studied in Italy for a semester in college.  My friend and I picked Italy because when I mentioned other countries to my grandma she got nervous (this is her normal state-of-mind).  When I mentioned we might go to Italy she lit up because see, that's not a foreign country, that's "home," so it's not scary to her.  And off we go...

"The Italians appear to have devised a way of having sex without taking their clothes off, and they were going at it hammer and tongs up there.  I had an ice cream and watched to see how many of the lovers tumbled over the edge to be dashed on the rocks below, but none did, thank goodness.  They must wear suction cups on their back." (133)

"I love the way Italians park.  You turn any street corner in Rome and it looks as if you've just missed a parking competition for blind people...Romans park their cars the way I would park if I had just spilled a beaker of hydrochloric acid on my lap." (134)

"Italians are entirely without any commitment to order.  They live their lives in a kind of pandemonium, which I find very attractive.  They don't line up, they don't pay their taxes, they don't turn up for appointments on time, they don't undertake any sort of labor without a small bribe, they don't believe in rules at all." (135)

"[Italians] are too busy expending their considerable energies on the pleasurable minutiae of daily life - on children, on good food, on arguing in cafes - which is just how it should be." (136)

"I stood there for ages, perhaps for an hour and a half, then turned and walked back toward my hotel and realized that I had fallen spectacularly, hopelessly, and permanently in love with Italy." (153)

"I passed the Istituto Tecno Commerziale [in Naples], where a riot seemed to be in progress both inside and outside the building.  Students were hanging out the upstairs windows, tossing down books and papers and holding shouting exchanges with their colleagues on the ground.  Were this was some sort of protest or merely part of the daily routine I couldn't tell." (155)

"I walked down to the Uffizi Palace and around the Piazza della Signoria and the other fixtures of the old part of town and it was the same everywhere - throngs of people, almost all of them from abroad, shuffling about in that aimless, exasperating way of visitors, in groups of five and six, always looking at something about twenty feet above ground level.  What is it they see up there?" (160)

"I remembered reading that it was near Lake Como that Mussolini was found hiding after Italy fell to the Allies, and I figured it must have something going for it if it was the last refuge of a desperate man. (174).

Title quote from page 131

Bryson, Bill.  Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe.  HarperCollins, New York.  1992.