“If you’re sad where you are, and then you get on a plane to Italy, the “you” in Italy will be the same sad “you” from before. Just in a new place”
This new Saturday Night Live skit with Adam Sandler is wonderful and that line just is so pure and so true.
In the past few decades, travel has become so much easier for so many more people. More people are taking that trip to Italy, and they end up down the street from me so I have plenty of people (tourist) watching and have guided tours in the past, so I learn of what people’s expectations are. I can say without a doubt that there is a large number of Americans especially that come here thinking that they’ll be that happy person that Sandler is currently trying to avoid.
I’d say film and TV are really to blame here – we all have seen Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love. We’ve read the books and watched the series set in that romantic town somewhere in the Italian countryside. There’s the stereotypes of fancy Italian men and the glorified version of Italian-American culture with Little Italys and the North End in Boston. I certainly am not helping with some of the things I write. I know I put rose-colored words down to give that tint to this place that I know that people crave. Yes, it does exist, and yes, maybe you’ll be the happiest in your life if you’re standing in Piazza Navona in Rome, but that’s because you’re making it magic because you’re happy in that moment.
These castles and vineyards don’t produce the happiness that comes out of traveling or living in Italy, because it’s just another place like Adam is trying to humorously explain. The expectations are dreamlike for many that come here – or they don’t even think that this country is just another country, they believe it’s a Disney – where everything is perfect and fit just-right to the standards of the individual. This is Italy, and here, perfection is only used for cooking. The rest of this life is absolutely a tumbling cartwheel of plain old humanness – with functioning chaos around every beautiful cypress-lined curve in the road.
It’s amusing to watch the video after I’ve personally had to listen to complaints that the button of the toilet in the hotel room was too hard to push and it ruined the entire stay. Once I stood outside the towering walls of the Vatican and asked a few people in my group how they liked the Sistine Chapel and they shrugged and were upset because they had believed it was only of God and Adam and were annoyed that there were so many other people painted.
Every year, Italy is swarmed with people searching for that awestruck happiness that is as perfect as a storybook. It’s here. It’s beautiful and glowing and perched on every precipice overlooking the deep blue-green Aegean Sea and under every silver-green olive tree shimmering in the Italian summer sun. But if you aren’t happy at home, don’t come here with your rainclouds. Only you can make them go away.