The EU pushes out all kinds of information at who knows what cost but the latest is book and newspaper reading. Less than 50% of Italians have started or finished a book in the last month compared to 78% of Brits. Indeed Italy languishes at the bottom of the table for book reading and for newspaper reading as well. Italians hardly glance at newspapers and the only one they do is the Sport Gazette whose readership is greater than all the others combined but is only about football. I can attest to that as in my coffee bar in the morning the three news daily papers are always lying around but the pink sports one is much sought after.
Now kind hearts would say that the reason for this lack of reading is because Italians are too busy having huge family lunches and dinners surrounded by friends and family gaily chatting away and enjoying life and the dolce vita. This might be partly true. Certainly on all the UK celebrity chef programmes that are filmed down here the chef ends up walking his creation down to a table under an Italian tree of idleness where hoards of eager people have gathered. As an aside Jamie Oliver who is apparently dyslexic tweeted the other day that he had just finished reading his first ever entire book . Wags are now asking what about all the ones he was paid to endorse with comments like ” a great read and fabulous ideas ” etc.
Anyway to escape the potential thunderstorms up here we headed to the beach today and on my hour long walk down the beach I conducted my own survey. I guess I passed about 300 people sitting on their beach chairs and towels. Total Italians reading 3, total foreigners reading 6 out of 9. Not sure how representative it is, foreigners seem to holiday and read but maybe locals don’t. I looked at the picture on the front of the UK Daily Mail of the crowds at Bournemouth beach ( the UK is having an heatwave) and I could see no one reading indeed the only thing in almost all the hands on view was an ice cream.
I felt quite virtuous as I was reading three books on the beach. They were however Luxe Travel Guides I am busy planning our escape from the Puglian winter and we are heading to Vietnam and Cambodia. I have never been to either country and so to sit in the Italian sunshine reading about Hanoi, Saigon and Phnom Phen is fun especially trying to imagine what they will be like. In reality it is rare for a place to live up to your imagined expectations don’t you find? Only a few places have ever done that for me. San Francisco did and does. I first went in 1967 and it was at the height of the flower power movement.
I was given flowers and a garland as I got off the ship. It is a truly lovely city.
The other two are Italian. Venice completely lived up to how I had imagined it. The city might have been helped by our arrival at dawn by sea or the fact that Geraldine and I had been on a cruise from hell as the small ship we were on broke down several times and we were adrift for hours at a time and the Italian tax people were chasing it to impound it so we never docked where we supposed to until Venice. The city is ludicrously expensive so there is just no point about worrying about the cost just sign the credit card and move on but it is a very special place, every turn in every narrow viale leads to something spectacular and pottering about on the canals is memorable.
Rome is the other city. The eternal one and I still throw my coins in the fountain everytime I go to ensure I return.
I wonder why 2 out of the 3 are here in Italy. Maybe because they have never read what people expect of their cities and so they just do their own thing. Perhaps not reading a book is no bad thing !