I was once asked by an Italian why the Brits love Italy so much and found myself reeling off the obvious attractions: climate, food & wine, scenery and the relaxed way of life. At the disappointment on my friend’s face and his response “Yes, but it must go deeper than that”, I as a Brit living in Italy felt frustrated and a little ignorant as to why I couldn’t provide a more substantial historical or socio-economic explanation.
The truth is, as a wedding planner in Italy, I welcome numerous British clients out here each year to celebrate their nuptials and without fail the reasons cited for choosing this country are; sunshine, cuisine, views and the laid back vibe. These elements constitute a snapshot of human well-being so often represented in the media by an image of an outdoor Italian dining table. For a nation of umbrella wielding, self-conscious bad cooks – the appeal is all too obvious. Add the short distance travel time and it’s a no brainer!
Today is the 12th February and it feels like Christmas. The snow is falling for the first time in Florence, the glowing stores are rejuvenating shoppers by inhaling them off the streets, warming their toes and cheeks, showering them with glittering sales bags, and delivering them back into the crisp air. More importantly however, the annual chocolate fair is on…Hallelujah indeed! Piazza Repubblica is literally oozing with cocoa in every form and I smile inside. If it weren’t for the brave South American street artists blowing out the theme tune to ‘Titanic’ on their pipes, the scene would have been pretty close to perfection! On one of the coldest days of the year so far, a hub of Italy’s master chocolatiers, in fur hats the size of enormous cakes, proudly display their goods and offer samples of chocolate salami, lavender truffles and spreadable white chocolate – all hand-made.