As the years went on and I spent more time in Italy, I fell more in love with the country, the people and the food. This was a very unique place. The Italians had figured out what everyone else was missing! Life was important. Yes they had to work but work was not driving them. Food, family and friends drove them. Life was to be lived and enjoyed. It was not about money or power but about social living.
Most areas of Italy have a custom of walking after the mid day meal. It is done with family or friends. The bar scene in Italy is a social setting to meet friends and discuss events of politics and sports. Italians are passionate about everything they do. You can see this passion in the way they talk with their hands moving. You will hear loud voices but seldom see real fights. It is passion.
Over the years I got to know Rome and north to the lakes very well. Most of my time was spent in Milan with a day trip or overnighter to another city. I got to see Italy in many different places. The food changed but was always fresh and delicious. In Italy it is not about the sauces or spices but about the taste of each item you are eating. A lot of thought went into how to prepare each item and which items can be placed on a plate together. Recipes are centuries old and passed down within the family.
I did not get to venture south of Rome until I met and married Jo Anne. That is when we developed a new awareness and love of southern Italy.