Olive trees.

 
I thought of Paca when taking this photograph.

It was the first time I thought I was seeing a picturesque image of the Tuscan countryside.  But don't be fooled, this isn't the countryside.  It's the outskirts of Florence and the surrounding area wasn't entirely beautiful; or at least not my stereotyped image of Italy.  Don't get me wrong though, the neighborhood has it's charm.  

There is an olive orchard...

But sometimes it's disappointing to see how similar things can be or look here to what I'm accustomed to.  On the train ride to Pisa, I saw vast expanses of evidence of Italy's relatively recent industrialization as well as developments and towns strangely reminiscent of American suburbs.  It's often a let down when these places look so different from what I imagined.  It's a ridiculous idea anyway, thinking that Italy is going to be as 'perfect' as I think it should be.  This place is still real, still has its problems..

I'm getting lost in my thoughts, but Pisa was a prime example of what I mean.  My pictures don't show it, because I only photographed the beautiful things, but the reality is that that complex feels displaced from the city.  I expected it to be the life of the city, a cultural and social hub.  In reality, it's set at the edge of town, partially fortified against an old (ancient?) city wall.  As we drew nearer to the tower, the city became less lively, the streets almost started to shrivel, and then suddenly we were in an architecture amusement park...dysfunctional, failed, architectural spectacle and all.

Sorry if I'm being so pessimistic.  I don't mean to be.  But I think it is important to recognize Italy's reality rather than hyping up everything just because I'm stupid enough to be swooned by its high points.  

Still searching...

2 comments:

Jake said...

So how do you feel about McDonald's?

This is a serious question though...in terms of authenticity, what wins? The Italian cafe playing Rhianna with the owner smiling at the tourist dollars he's reaping or the McDonald's next door?

On one hand, the influx of Micky D's is poisoning the picturesque, but when the picturesque is faked, maybe there's something to be said for the authentic culture-sharing that happens when a McDonald's in Italy still serve's rather crappy burgers - which is the amazing part. Somehow, they're able to acquire the ugly ingredients that they use back in the states - in a world filled with beautiful tasty tomatoes, theirs are still (comfortably) mushy and tasteless.

fake authenticity vs. the authentically bad?

micah said...

i've never felt like mcdonalds was more authentic than now.

we tried to go to the hard rock cafe in rome saturday, because honestly, imported american cuisine is the best deal around (that we've found).

but really, mcdonalds wins.