I’m not Italian. My father wasn’t even born in Italy. My grandparents were. I am about as Italian as I am Irish on my mother’s side. Yet I cling to my distant Italian culture like a child clings to a newly acquired party bag. And while my children have been endowed with a surname that they will be spelling to take-away places for the rest of their life, their blonde hair and blue eyes are so prominent that even northern Italians won’t be buying it.
So why do I hold on to any skerrick that I can? Because it is such a wonderful culture. It is a culture of tradition, and beauty, and style. It is a culture of passion. There is a reason that I have a red Ferrari in the garage, because it is more than a car. It is idiosyncratic, it is immensely beautiful, it has a soul. It is for this reason that owning Italians can be a tempestuous relationship. The lows can be low, but the highs, oh the highs! Nothing can compare. It is the country that produced the Countach, a car named after a word that is a local exclamation of astonishment because it is just that beautiful. Even though a Countach is apparently horrible to drive, and temperamental, when you look at it you fall in love all over again.
Now I know I am going to draw the ire of Porsche owners everywhere, but when you compare it with a Ferrari the Porsche is practical, efficient, like a swiss watch. But if I want a watch I will buy a Rolex. When I drive I want something that evokes emotions. I want Sophia Loren, stealing money from my wallet and throwing a glass of red in my face, because that lets me know I am still alive.
So this Ferragosto, I won’t be thinking of just another street fair, I will be remembering the smell of my grandmother’s kitchen, the long loud lunches with the cast of hundreds of aunts, uncles and cousins when I was five. I will be thinking of my first automotive love, a Fiat X1/9 with whom I spent a day on the Old Pacific Hwy that I still remember vividly. Because that is truly La Dolce Vita, or as I should say, Sweet As eh!