December 12, 2011

Florence. October, 1980

Chickens. Fashion. Lamb. This was my first trip to Italy (not counting a dinner in a seaside town on the French border eight years earlier) and I loved everything about it. Some things more than others, of course. Like the wonderful juxtapositions so natural there that would seem so astonishing back home. Another lineup that we saw time and time again was: Bar. Pasticceria. Duomo. (Bar. Pastry Shop. Cathedral.) Also ancient Roman ruins side-by-side with sweater stores. My friend Antonio tried to explain these seeming mismatches to me the first time I went to visit him in Lucca. We were driving home from dinner at a great restaurant owned by a friend of his, passing lots of haggard prostitutes hanging out under bridge overpasses, waiting for pickups. I wondered aloud how something so carnal and so obvious could exist in such a Catholic country. He shrugged and, referencing the famous porn-star-turned-politician (who continued to make hardcore films while in office), said, “In my country we have the Pope...and Cicciolina.”

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