Throughout my travels across this iconic peninsula, I made the very astute realization that Italy is quite old. Quite profound, I know. However, that which impressed me even more was the way the embraced their history. It is seemingly impossible to place a shovel in Italy without uprooting some form of artifact. Their cities are also jammed full of old villas, piazzas, palaces and Roman ruins. They now also have a narrow ribbon of asphalt in which an army of half crazed drivers zip around, parking haphazardly. Apart from roads and cars, not much has changed in these places. They have learned to live with, and thrive in their own history. Palaces have become museums and high cost apartments. Piazzas still dominate as centers of social congregation and in many cases Roman ruins such as the aqueducts and amphitheaters are still in use.
Venture into an Italian cafe or home however, and one is left with a very different impression. While some may argue that Italy may not entirely be in the 21st century yet, I found their abundance of beautiful modern cafes, chic hotels and gorgeous restaurants to be quite the opposite of dated. Italians have mastered the art of not only living with their history, but integrating it into their modern design. Often times I would find myself looking into a beautiful Venetian mirror placed artfully above a chic and modern piece of furniture. The dichotomy of the old and new created a beautiful vignette of ancient and modern Italy. While we live in a much younger (and colder) country, the lesson in style is near universal. We can live with our history, by preserving it through integration into modern design.