Psst, Hey You – Ever Wonder Why We Love Art?

I’ve never been “trained” in art. I went to many a museum with no idea how to look at the pieces, what to do, or where to put my hands. 

Raised in Columbus, Ohio, my family eschewed art for sports and museums for sunsets over the lake. My childhood was encased in the nature and nurture of Midwest values, Midwest landscapes. Though beautiful and innately creative, it certainly didn’t help me while touring Europe’s most prestigious museums.  

I wasn’t “trained.” I went anyway. As a result I slowly began to grow an appreciation for museum going. I began to grow a preference, to develop an understanding of layout and gallery design and artistic development. I began to seek out exhibits. I began to like art, educated or not. 

Recently, at a Van Gogh exhibit showing at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, I stood in front of The Green Vineyard, a rather ignored piece by the master painter compared to its cousin, The Red Vineyard.

The Green Vineyard, Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh; Painting, Oil on Canvas; Arles, France; September, 1888 (via)

It was a rainy night in Milan. I had convinced Marco to stay in the city after work before making the long commute back home so that we could catch the Van Gogh exhibit during its last few days there. We drifted through the gallery hand in hand, listening to our shared audio guide and patiently waiting for the school group to pass. The Green Vineyard was in the final room of the exhibit, tucked away among other similar stroke style paintings, a part of the artist’s later work.

As is so characteristic of Van Gogh, the painting was filled with movement. It was an outdoor scene of women strolling through a field. The sky was tumultuous and the women struggled with their sun umbrellas, the wind pulling them this way and that. Besides this, it seemed to be the perfect weather for a stroll, the sky was clear blue, calm, reassuring. The happy colors and banality of a stroll was overwhelmed by the force field of energy that came from the field of vines, a vineyard perhaps. The vines were painted as if from an up-close perspective, the people and field beyond as if from a distant viewpoint. Each chaotic green twisted around another while strong brown vines tied them all together, until it all simply disappeared into a gray nothingness toward the foreground of the painting. So much detail, dissolved to nothing.

At the time I had no words for what I felt. I wasn’t dissecting the painting. I wasn’t searching for meaning. Though now I can say that for me it so clearly represented the struggles of life. The minute details holding up as good of a façade as we can until it gives way to nothingness, until it’s proven insignificant by death. I can say that it instilled in me a strange feeling of anxiety, strange because it came with such a visually appealing scene. I still haven’t searched the background of this painting, because it doesn’t matter. At the time my neurons began to fire. I was sparking. The painting made me feel – what, I don’t know – and I knew that that’s all it had to do. Make me feel, with no other homework required.

Art is about emotion. Good art makes us feel. Great art shows us that we’re not alone.

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Because we want to hear what others say, we want to know we’re not alone.

As a girl I escaped for hours into the worlds of my books. I used my library card along with my mother’s in order to bring home the amount of books necessary to hold me over until we returned two weeks later. I read to escape my unstable home life. I read to be the heroine of each new adventure. I read to learn, to feel, to see other possibilities. Most of all, I read to find a connection, to find a truth. It doesn’t have to be life altering – even a grain of truth is powerful enough to move us. Sometimes it’s powerful enough to save us.

Most writers already know this, but perhaps we see it most clearly from Hemingway’s most famous quote: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

I read for hundreds of reasons, but what I was really searching for were those found moments of truth that could validate me as a human being, that one scene or line or word that described something I thought only I had noticed, felt or done. It could be something as small as a nervous tick, as large as a life philosophy. Whatever it was, if it was in the book it meant that someone else in the world had experienced it. It meant that I wasn’t alone.

And I’m not the only one. For this is why we seek out art. We want to know we’re not alone. 

I saw this most recently in the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The book follows the life of protagonist Theo Decker and his obsessive possession over a small painting that he associates with the day his mother died. The book follows his life artfully and follows art that is full of life. It’s about our constant quest for even the tiniest clue that shows us we’re not alone. It’s about the art around us, whatever it may be, that somehow reaches us, that says “psst, hey you.”

In the end Theo muses on art and humanity’s constant search for beauty. His semi-foster parent, Hobie, says this about the subject:

“Great paintings––people flock to see them, they draw crowds, they’re reproduced endlessly on coffee mugs and mouse pads and anything-you-like. And, I count myself in the following, you can have a lifetime of perfectly sincere museum-going where you traipse around enjoying everything and then go out and have some lunch. But if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”

We can study art manuals, learn the names, the histories, of the most popular art works in the world, but if you ask me that’s not the point of art. The point is this. Psst, you. Yes you. Each piece will mean something different to each person. Each analysis will feel dry compared to our own shared emotion.

Continuing from The Goldfinch:

“You see one painting, I see another, the art book puts it at another remove still, the lady buying the greeting card at the museum gift shop sees something else entire, and that’s not even to mention the people separated from us by time––four hundred years before us, four hundred years after we’re gone–it’ll never strike anybody the same way and the great majority of people it’ll never strike in any deep way at all but––a really great painting is fluid enough to work its way into the mind and heart through all kinds of different angles, in ways that are unique and very particular. Yours, yours. I was painted for you.”

It’s our powerful, if brief, connection: ‘This painting is my gift. It was painted only for people like me. The painter wasn’t alone and neither am I.’ ‘This book was written directly for me. It understands me. I am understood.’

______

I’m no longer worried about what to do with my hands in a museum. I no longer tour galleries with the silent echo of insecurity resonating in my ears. I know that I am one person among the entire millennia of humanity who just wants to feel connected in all the places I wasn’t sure fit.

That’s why art is important. That’s why we should connect to art. Why we gravitate toward it. That’s what art can give us – a glimpse of truth. A fragment of unanimity.  

Psst, you. Yes. You.   
 

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My Big Fat Italian-American Easter

I’ve always considered Easter as a quintessentially Italian holiday.  Most likely because it was one of the only holidays hosted at our house, organized primarily by my exaggeratedly Italian-American father. He did it like his parents did, which meant tablecloths, family, and enough fresh food to feed a small army. Our Easters were like no one else’s I knew. Our four-course Easter lunch lasted hours. Between courses the men digested with cigar breaks and bocce ball, the women with gossip and presents. Both sexes with a glass of wine in hand. IMG_0003 We started with the antipasto. We pulled off large slices of prosciutto, salami, capocollo or spicy soppressata and wrapped each with slices of provolone. The dyed Easter eggs were served along with a tray of black and green olives, scallions, sweet pickles, bell peppers and strange mini-onion things. All of it combined enough salt to set any of the old Italians’ blood pressure soaring.  After the antipasto, we began with the soup and salad. Expert homemade Italian wedding soup from my Polish grandma and the typical boring head lettuce salad that my dad loves so much, smothered in homemade Italian dressing. So much of what we ate was in Italian or had the word Italian in it, I couldn’t imagine Italy being any more authentic. Now I’m celebrating my third Easter in Italy and I can see that so much of what I took as Italian is more accurately defined as Italian-American. That said, the fundamentals were there. My grandfather and father’s strange tendencies – always using tablecloths, eating their salads post-dinner rather than before and sweating over their vegetable garden more than their own children – are actually habits cultivated from their Italian heritage.  The main course was always heavily meat based, as if we hadn’t already had enough salt and protein for the day. After letting the kids up to play for a bit, everyone was called back to the table another time. Andiamo, Mangia! It’s time to eat! Dad either made veal and peppers, rabbit hunted by my cousins with a side of thick yellow polenta, or involtini of veal, salami and cheese smothered in a rich tomato sauce. The recipe of which had a name that became so distorted over the years it grew to be called birds, leaving young-me confused about the origin of the meat.

No Easter egg hunts in Italy!

No Easter egg hunts in Italy!

The four course, often four-hour, meal was polished off with dessert wine and sweets. Homemade sugar cookies in the shape of eggs and bunnies. Cake, chocolate bird nests, chocolate eggs. The holiday was so different from the more popular holidays centered around presents. While we did get an Easter basket and goodies in our Easter eggs, our Easter wasn’t about presents. It was centered around family and food. My family’s Easter is still the exact same. Each year my aunts, uncles and cousins congregate at my parent’s house and squeeze around the already too-small table. The dishes will start passing and their voice levels will rise as the children’s excitement grows and the adult’s wine supply diminishes. For me this is Easter, and yet here, in actual Italy, the Easter motto is Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi. Christmas with your parents, Easter with whoever you want. It’s a refreshing change in family-heavy Italy, but it also means that the set in stone Easter plans I’m so used to don’t exist. Family members plan trips to celebrate with friends or visit opposite sides of the family, but with no trip planned for the Easter weekend, I’m missing the familiar routine of my usual Easters. Where is the family? Where are the birds, the wedding soup, the broken ears of the bunny-shaped sugar cookies? We didn’t have set plans for Easter until Saturday afternoon, leaving too much stress for the final day and too much time to fall prey to nostalgia for my liking. We only had one sure plan: to make an Easter lunch.

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A tame Easter lunch for four

Back home, we never strayed from our Easter lunch staples: meat, sliced hams and salamis, and dozens of crazy Easter eggs. Here we had free range to create whatever menu we liked. We chose traditional agnello, patate and a side of caponata. We had appetizers of Russian salad, torte salate, caprese, pinzimonio and paté di vitello. We finished the meal with fruit salad and the ever-so-apt dessert, tiramisu, meaning “pick me up!” (or cheer me up or pull me up or lift me up, however you prefer). Licking our spoons clean of the delicious tiramisu cream, I realized that the solution to my problems is always the same: food. Maybe Italians don’t stick so close to home for Easter, but there is one Easter tradition that will never be broken – that of a damn good meal. 

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Falling in Love With Italy, Imperfections and All

“Other than the culture, which is beautiful for sure,” the question from a ‘Catherine’ on the online expat forum began, “why would a non-Italian national want to subject herself to the hassle, inefficiencies, high inflation and debt, illegal immigrants and corrupt political system, to retire in Italy?”

It ended: “I am beginning to think there are better places for retirement, such as the USA.”

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Especially terrifying was that despite my much celebrated and very recent move to Italy, I had to admit: Catherine was right.

Italy is gorgeous. With the sea and the mountains; sunshine and skiing; food, culture and art, there’s something for everyone. But any expat in Italy will tell you, when the novelty wears off and you’re fighting with your taxes, fighting with the workers at the post office, fighting the traffic, the crowded metro or the oily water splashing from the potholes, it can become difficult to stick up for your beloved new country.

The truth is, Italy isn’t perfect. It runs out of a sort of functional chaos and a never-ending creativity that’s necessary to deal with the draconian bureaucracy. In my best expat moments, this creative chaos is fascinating, in my worst: infuriating.

At the time I didn’t immediately have a response for Catherine in the forum. Maybe she was right. Today, however, I would answer that some are willing to take the better healthcare with the more difficult bureaucracy; the better climate with the more difficult traffic or the better lifestyle with the loss in punctuality.

No place on earth can offer us every single thing we want with zero problems.

I’d answer that we don’t move abroad because it’s easy. If that was what we wanted than Catherine would be right: better to stay at home. We don’t move abroad hoping to escape the differences of our new country from our hometown. Everything is different, that’s part of the process. Every country has its problems and choosing a new home comes from much more than a list of pros and cons.

We move abroad because it’s right for us. Because we need it. Because we’re ready. It’s motivated by passion, by love, by attraction. Moving to a new country is like falling in love: at first you don’t notice the flaws of your new love, and once you do you realize you’re ok with them.

No one decides to stay in Italy because it’s perfect, they decide because they can’t imagine living any other place on earth. Italy is inside of them. It’s a land that can teach us how to live again, teach us what wealth and health truly mean, and that only we can control our happiness.

In the land of “il dolce far niente,” or the sweetness of doing nothing, Italy – through its blessings as well as problems – teaches us to slow down; to stay passionate but accept what we cannot change; to enjoy the little things with the knowledge that it’s all the little things. Time works a bit differently in a 3,000 year-old-country. Honestly? Everything works a bit differently. Italy is fallible, and humanly imperfect.

We don’t fall in love with perfection, such a thing doesn’t exist. Rather, we fall in love in spite of the imperfections. Our love doesn’t necessarily make sense, I’d tell Catherine, but luckily for us it doesn’t have to.

 

 

 

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Escape The Daily Grind With Microadventures

Though I’m always dreaming of my next trip, I view traveling as more than just constant movement. I travel through reading, through writing, through cooking. I travel for weeks or just for weekends. I travel for days or just for hours. I travel the 10 miles from my home to Milan. Hell, I travel in my own backyard.

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I do this because the spirit of travel is infinitely more important than a big trip. Travel gives us an openness to change, to adventure and to fun that we can carry into all aspects of our lives. Actually, we need to carry it into all aspects of our lives, if we do, it just might save us.

This is the philosophy of Alastair Humphreys, a traveler and author who preaches this travel spirit in the form of “microadventures.”

He describes them as quick outings that offer “something different, something exciting—but cheap, simple, short, and on your doorstep.”

They can be spontaneous campouts or bike rides with friends, biking or running to work instead of driving or a simple change of your daily route. Go for a run at night instead of in the morning, try canoeing instead of a river walk. Humphreys’ blog has tons of ideas of small, easily manageable adventures to pick from all week long. Actually, he has an entire year of microadventures to borrow from! 

IMG_5392I’m not the only one who likes to spice up her life with small adventures. I first heard of Humphreys through an article in Outside Magazine by Christopher Keyes, an editor of the magazine looking to break out of the monotony of his daily routine. Far too often I devour Outside Magazine, but then don’t go outside to put into practice what I’ve read. I have to admit, I feel better that I’m not the only one – it seems it can even happen to Outside editors! Still, by using Humphreys ideas of microadventures Keyes was able to jump start his week and crawl out of a creative rut.

“Studies have shown that humans are hardwired for adventure; when we make unfamiliar choices, our brains reward us by releasing dopamine, a key neurotransmitter effecting positive emotions. If nothing else, by slotting in just one or two micro­adventures per week, I’ve found a way to mark time instead of just logging it,” he wrote.

It’s so easy to fall into a pattern. Rhythms help us to manage our responsibilities, remember our homework and finish the ever growing to-do list. They also stifle creativity and can lead to the blues that come from the daily grind. Add some microadventures to your life to shake things up, and see if your day doesn’t improve in the process.

A day hiking is a day well spent!

A day hiking is a day well spent!

After, be sure to stop back and share what microadventures you had! 

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Midwest vs. Italy: We’re not in Kansas anymore…

It’s easy to think that life between Italy and the United States isn’t so different. Both are first world countries, both are Western, relatively well off and relatively educated. With the safety net of Italian family abroad, it’s easy to think that an American expat would fall right into the swing of things and pick up the Italian lifestyle without ever breaking stride. 

The problem with this, of course, is that it completely ignores the fact that the two countries are actually radically different. They have different governments, education and, the hardest one to understand, mentalities. There’s also the fact that I went from the practical, provincial mindset of the Midwest, to the cosmopolitan, frenetic mindset of Milan.

We could talk for hours about the broken bureaucracy, illegitimate government and failing economy of my adopted country (and how those things differ from the broken bureaucracy, illegitimate government and failing economy in my native country), but I prefer to go more micro. This time, I’m focusing on one question: How does daily life in Northern Italy compare to daily life in the Midwest? 

1) Food

The above Buzzfeed video about “Midwest foods” describes much of our native cuisine… and it doesn’t make us look great. My experience (that is, middle class white suburban….like much of the Midwest) is that our food is more to feed us than it is to enjoy. Midwesterners? We’re not impressed by all that fancy shmancy bullshit. If we can’t pronounce it, we don’t want it! We grow our own food and know what to do with it – eat it. Even better when our dinner is liquid gold. We’re known even out of the region for our beer brewing capabilities (wimpy California has nothing on us), our sports teams (OSU, Notre Dame, Cavs…) and parties. Luckily for us, the three go together perfectly.

2) Winter

I’ve written here about the difference between Italian and midwestern winters, but perhaps the best explanation is the sun shining through my window while Ohio is experiencing a high of -9. While Italians cover their throat and arms even on a breezy summer day, real Midwesterners never cover up. Negative 9 degrees? Flip flops same as before. They also tend to never leave their house in the winter though…

(See also: 23 signs it’s winter in the Midwest)

3) Weather in general

midwest weather

Winter can be crazy in the Midwest, especially these past couple of years (polar vortex? What the hell?), but let’s get real, the weather in general is crazy in the Midwest. It’s frigid and pouring freezing rain today? Don’t worry, because tomorrow it’s bound to be 70 degrees and sunny! The weather has shaped our life philosophy: If your life is going bad, don’t worry, tomorrow is a new day and if your life is going well, smile and enjoy it while it lasts!

4) Driving

You go on right ahead. After you. Go ahead. Oh thank you, sir!

It’s not bad dialogue from Fargo, it’s how we Midwesterners often talk with the other cars on the road, usually out loud also. In Italy? Like HELL I’d let you go ahead. More like you better watch out before I speed past you, ramp a sidewalk and cut you off, speeding through the intersection at a red just to get 45 seconds ahead of you. Jerk. 

5) Service

On a similar note, service in the Midwest is just as nice as the Midwesterners themselves. These poor servers have been on their feet all day, usually serving middle-aged fat couples, yet they are still peppy, still bouncing on their feet and asking how they can oh-please-god help you in any way, any way at all? – all in a sing song voice. Service in Italy is nonexistent. If you want something, you better ask for it, and you better be apologetic that you’re even thinking about making a server (or whoever it is) actually work for the five minutes you’re there. Italians don’t get paid by tips, thus they don’t feel required to grovel at your feet. Personally, I miss the groveling, or at least the friendly smile every now and then, but it’s not going to happen. Service is different. Get used to it. 

6) Sports

Football, football, football – and not just professional, but college as well! While Italians live and breathe the other kind of football (that is, soccer) us heartland Americans give our true allegiance to American football. From high school on up, fall isn’t fall without the start of football season. Come winter fear not, for then we have the start of basketball, boxing, hockey, (we are southern Canada after all) then baseball, golf…. you get the idea. 

7) Attire


Though it’s true Italians tend to be more fashion forward than Midwesterners, this isn’t true for all Italians in all of Northern Italy (the mountain towns are often dressed just as practical and farmer-chic as we are). The Midwest is where UGG boots sunk their dirty little teeth, growing in popularity one warm footed American girl at a time. Sure, they’re ugly, but in the freezing Midwest they’re also a lifesaver. Midwesterners are all-Americans. The fashion stars of music festivals. While Italians dress for the weather, we’re wearing shorts if the thermometer threatens to reach 50 degrees. While Italians have proper footwear, we’re wearing flip flops in three inches of mud or three inches of snow (otherwise known as our seasons). The Midwest is great because we know how to rock a flannel when it’s appropriate and how to rock a little black dress – even in 30 degree weather.

8) Parties

This can’t even begin to compare. Italians don’t have house parties. The size of their houses and the shared quarters of apartment buildings don’t lend themselves to the house party atmosphere. Instead, they go to the club to really party, or go out for a drink, maybe two, with friends. Maybe a happy hour, maybe a pub for some microbrews. Either way it’s just a relaxing time, good conversation and a good way to see or be seen. Few Midwesterners, on the other hand, have seen a true club, but we know how to have a house party. Houses, yards, fields, barns, canoes, we can party anywhere and when we do it’s go big or go home!

Midwest

(via)

I can tease both Italy and the U.S. Midwest for hours on end, but I do so out of genuine love for both countries. Though I am one of the many millennials who left their hometown in the heart of America, I’m not one of the many millennials who did so in disdain of their Midwestern town. I’m proud to be from the Midwest. I like the attitude, the work ethic, the people and the niceties. I’m also proud to be living here in Italy. To enjoy my food, enjoy nicer clothes and drive like a maniac. That said, college football will always reign supreme over soccer.

 

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5 Ways to Fail Your Study Abroad in Florence

1) Never leave your apartment

Our apartment was great, but we could have definitely left it more often...

Our apartment was great, but we could have definitely left it more often… drawing by Mackenzie Sipiora

So studying abroad is harder than you expected. Navigating the streets, the language and the rain is exhausting. It’s better to just stay inside, right?

Looking back on my study abroad experience, I’m shocked at how often I was in my apartment. Sure, I went out at nights and went to class in the morning, but a mid-afternoon adventure? Never. I had homework to do, of course, but I think a large part of it was how tiring the onslaught of new things could be. I holed away in the apartment, missing out on an important study abroad opportunity: wandering.

2) Never speak in Italian

So you eschewed a host family in favor of living with other American students? You go to school with Americans, eat with them and go out at night with them. In the rare moments that you’re out without other Americans, the Italians speak to you in English. You were so worried about the language barrier but, turns out, Florence is like a mini-America – all English here!

It might sound fun, but the point of studying abroad is learning a new culture, and that includes the language. Even for those who didn’t come specifically to study the language, learning a few words can completely open up your mind and open up your travels. It helps to know a few words in the country you’ll live in for the next semester. Unfortunately for study abroad students in Florence, the city nearly has more Americans than Italians. Though fun, you didn’t come to Florence to party like it’s N.Y.U. Use your time wisely. Explore your new language as much as you’re exploring the city itself. Use it without fear!

3) Avoid the school’s cultural events

Participate in the school? psh! You haven’t participated in school events since high school, and even then they were lame. You’re here to do it on your own. Your way or the highway. Those cultural events are for kids without friends who know nothing about Italy. People completely different than you.

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See? I studied!

Truth is, those cultural events are how you get the most out of your time abroad. They can introduce you to other Italians (a much harder thing in Florence than you’d expect, see above point), help you learn the language and teach you aspects of the city you’d never find on your own. So take the cooking class, do the language exchange and go on the group trips. You’re studying abroad to immerse yourself in new things – you’ll never find that if you keep saying no.

4) Never cross the Arno

The center of Florence is incredible. You could spend a lifetime between the Duomo, Santa Croce and the Uffizi Gallery, but there’s more to Florence than just the city center. Cross the Arno river to get a glimpse of the “real” Florence. The neighborhood is Florence frozen in time, eerily similar to your image of the city during the Renaissance. (Think: artisans and real neighborhoods Renaissance, not sketchy pubs and feces on the street Renaissance)

Like I said in this Matador Network article:

“Oltrarno, or “the other side of the Arno,” is the neighborhood located across the Arno River, away from the city center. Home to the Boboli Gardens, Palazzo Pitti, and Piazzale Michelangelo, it’s also a vibrant neighborhood with some great shopping. Once the artisan quarter of Florence, it’s still home to dozens of workshops and studios.”

During your stay in Florence, search for all of Florence, not just the touristy gimmicks that immediately catch your attention.

5) Never stay in Florence for the weekend

On that note, give yourself some time in your temporary home. Though you walk the streets every day and go out at nights, it takes focused exploring to really get to know the city, and leaving every weekend to travel to a new place won’t help that.

I’m totally guilty of this. I was so thrilled to be in Europe, just a quick plane ride away to all the major European capitals, that I traveled nearly every weekend. It was great, but there’s a part of me that knows I didn’t get to live Florence like a resident would. There are a ton of events on the weekends, choose some to stay at “home.”

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Most who study abroad can talk for hours about how it changed their life, but they often leave out how difficult it can be. Everyone goes abroad with big dreams in mind, but it takes a constant effort to dig deeper into an adopted city. Florence in particular seems so easy and accessible, but with so many Americans, what’s really easy is to fall into the same old rhythm.

As I’m always saying on this blog, say “Yes!” to the experience; get lost Oltrarno, stumble through your broken Italian and skip one day’s homework for a day of exploring instead.

The time goes fast. You won’t regret it.

 

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R.I.P. Mr Nutella

Michele Ferrero, owner and founder of the namesake Ferrero confectionary group, passed away February 14 at the age of 89.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems appropriate that the man who brought us Nutella would pass away on Valentine’s Day. What better tribute to an accomplished chocolate man then buying, giving and devouring chocolate for a holiday filled with love?

If you've never had one of these, you need to find a new Valentine.

If you’ve never had one of these, you need to find a new Valentine.

We can laugh, but Michele Ferrero built an empire from that love of chocolate. He founded the company in 1946 in Alba, Italy, a town in northern Piemonte, creating dozens of new products that are now household staples in Italy and beyond: Tic Tac, Rocher, Kinder and, of course, Nutella.

I heard from a friend who worked with him that Mr. Ferrero was very particular about his company’s brand. His team developed dozens of other products, tested them, named them and boxed them, only for production to be stopped at the last step and never put on the market. Ferrero didn’t want his powerful brand diluted, and though we might be sad that there aren’t at least a dozen other types of Nutella, there must have been something right in the decision: Ferrero Confectionery Group is one of the top confectionary groups in all the world. It exists in 53 countries, has 20 factories and employs approximately 34,000 people throughout the world.

nutella-world

True that

No wonder the company has spread so successfully. One quick google search is enough to see our obsession over the chocolatey treat. Anyone can make chocolate, but that added twist of hazelnut? Oooh, my friends, that’s what got us.

images (2)The truth is, Ferrero (along with Mr. Caprotti, the founder of the supermarket empire Esselunga) is a testament to northern Italy’s workmanship and entrepreneurial spirit. In 1971, he was knighted Cavaliere del Lavoro, a prestigious award for his contributions to labor in Italy. Though the hazelnut addition seems so commonsense now, Ferrero was the first to create the chocolate spread and market it on such a large scale.

It’s obvious that Ferrero worked hard, but if you ask me, it’s even more obvious that the world loves Nutella.

So grab a jar and celebrate with me, in honor of Mr. Nutella!

 

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