Wednesday 21 February 2018

Bella Italia: Five things the Irish love about Italy

Ireland's Italian love affair

The Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum in Rome
Sophisticated: Espresso. Deposit photos.
Allure: Rome - the Eternal City.
Giovanni Trapattoni. Deposit Photos.
Prosecco.
Just like Mamma used to make. Deposit photos.

As we celebrate Italy in our Appetites Italian Special, here's a look at some of the things Irish people love about Italy and its citizens.

1. Espresso

It used be called 'expresso' here and consisted of some Nescafe poured into a tiny cup. (Nobody ever said we were sophisticated.) Then we discovered real espresso. Oh, baby. And we thought the Italians were just a jittery people. (No wonder you rarely see them playing golf.) Irish people greeted it the way we greet any drink that makes us feel mildly euphoric. "Give me another one." The result? A lot of people twitching uncontrollably as if they'd been tasered. And saying, "I'm fine, give me another one."

2. Rome

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Allure: Rome - the Eternal City.

Remember it used be a big thing to go get married in Rome. It sent out a very clear message. "I'm a good Catholic." Or "This is the only way I can avoid inviting mad Aunt Clodagh and her weird husband." Of course, Aunt Clodagh turned up anyway and fell into a fountain. Still, we can't resist the allure of the Eternal City. Where else in the world can you get such a beguiling mix of pickpockets and guys dressed as centurions? Temple Bar, says you, dodging another stag party.

3. Giovanni Trapattoni

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Giovanni Trapattoni. Deposit Photos.

His English wasn't the best. Just as well, considering what people were saying about him. (And it meant he never went anywhere without that hot interpreter, says you, glued to his press conferences.) After Euro 2012, we decided one of the greatest managers of all time was to blame for everything. (Recession included.) How could he look at our footballers and not say, "This place is basically Brazil without the budgie smugglers."?

4. Prosecco

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Prosecco.

But I never really saw it as bubbly white wine, says you, in the taxi on the way to yet another drying-out clinic. The arrival of prosecco has changed the way we live our lives in Ireland now. For starters, everyone is slaughtered before noon on Christmas Day. Also, it turns out you're not legally married in Ireland unless the bride took a Xanax because they nearly ran out of prosecco. (Uncle Jim picked a great day to fall off the wagon. Then he fell off the chocolate fountain. Oh, lads.)

5. Mamma

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Just like Mamma used to make. Deposit photos.

The average Irish man rings his mother once a day. The average Italian doesn't need to do this. Because he still lives with her. (His mother, not yours. The neighbours would have a field day. "I see Nora is getting a pizza action. And we thought she was pasta all that.") 'Just like mamma used to make' is a compliment in Italy. Not so much here. Unless you fancy a lamb chop that was grilled for an entire weekend. Which you don't.

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