One of the things I have been noticing here in Italy over the past two weeks is how connected people are to the places they are living, where they grew up, etc. Whether in the villa or wineries of Chianti, or with friends in Modena or here in Florence (away from the tourists that is), Italians seem particularly in tune with the land, the culture, the architecture, the food. They know the ins and outs of their home regions, and take great pride and pleasure in the special things that make a place unique. They know about the best olives or wines from the region, the special dishes that only are served in this or that time or place. They know and love their old buildings or the history of a church or piazza. Americans, on the other hand, are all about mobility and newness, casting off not only the past but any strong traditions that may hinder this mobility. This is both our strength and our weakness.
And speaking of Italians and their connections to local traditions, Jonathan took me to an amazing restaurant here in Florence last night called Il Guscio. It was one of the best meals I have had in Italy (or ever), the dishes all refined interpretations of Tuscan culinary favorites. If you are ever in Florence, I highly recommend it.