Location: Lecce, Apulia, Italy
We wander into the musty, dimly lit store in search of fruit and a brief escape from the intense July sun. There are no windows, and the entrance is closed by a worn bed sheet, which keeps the heat at bay. Baskets and old beaten crates of fruits and vegetables are strewn about the room, and pictures of the Virgin Mary are taped to the walls. A single portable fan set on the counter provides the only ventilation.
Location: Lago Patria, Giugliano in Campania, Naples
I tell your mother that your family’s house is beautiful, but she doesn’t seem to believe me. It’s too small, she says, we don’t have much space.
Your apartment building is of modest size and sits on a dusty street of sporadic loud noise and chaos, lingering evidence of its neighboring big sibling Naples, located just a few kilometers south of here. A large grey building sits right across the street, abandoned and graffitied, and I wonder if it’s as dangerous inside as it is unsightly on the outside, and what types of people lurk around here after hours. When we go out at night, we drive past stretches of cornfields lined with prostitutes, some huddled together in packs, others standing further apart from each other, all waiting to pay the bills.
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Location: Rome, Italy
I try to make a trip to Rome every year. With the newest and fastest Frecciarossa train you can get there in 2 hours and 55 minutes from Milan. A trip that only 5 years ago used to take 4 hours (once, when commuting from Milan to Rome during my then long-distance relationship, I was stuck on the train for 9 hours. “Trainitalia apologizes for the five hour delay,” a voice said over the loud speaker as a total stranger and I exchanged exasperated looks).
“Why is your Rome your favorite city?” people ask me, “Surely there are more beautiful places in Italy!” After fumbling around in my brain, the answer is actually very simple: