Eat, Pray, Love in Rome
All of the “characters” in her book are actually real people and many of
In his book, Luca shows us why Rome is his favorite city on earth through his upbringing and adulthood in this magical place. Not only is Rome the ‘cradle of life’, but it’s much, much more. It’s where children learn to play soccer after church, where families are as close as they come, and where the second religion is cooking and eating classic Roman dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara.
After eating some of the world’s best pizza, “flat and crunchy” as Luca describes it, or some of the heavier pasta dishes, it’s easy to walk it all off along the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways that make up the city. At night especially the eternal city comes alive with everyone heading to one of the many piazzas, or squares, where it’s customary to hang out with friends while eating a delicious gelato.
As devoted as the Romans are to their pasta and pizza, there’s another part of their hearts dedicated entirely to soccer. Many non-Italians may not understand the passion they have for this sport, but it’s a serious game and the rivalries are nearly live or die by. Whether you are a team Roma fan or root for Lazio like Luca, attending the games and wearing their colors are a huge part of the Roman culture.
Unusual to all but the locals, Rome is still made up of mostly ancient streets and buildings that have survived for centuries. There are countless churches, (really, no one has ever been able to count!), masterpieces by famous artists nearly everywhere you turn, and spectacular architecture that does not exist anywhere else in the world.
It’s home to the largest Catholic church on earth, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the legendary Colosseum, and Piazza Santa Maria in Travestere, a piazza famous for its romantic beauty. As a Roman, Luca is used to seeing all these world treasures, but you can almost hear him laughing as he describes what it’s like to suddenly remember that you are drinking an espresso just next to the Pantheon. Keep reading to discover more about Luca's "la dolce vita" or sweet life in Rome!
Here is an excerpt of Un Amico Italiano:
“ Among all the nominees on my Potential New Italian Friends List, I am most intrigued to meet a fellow named . . . brace yourself . . . Luca Spaghetti. And that is honestly his name, I swear to God, I’m not making it up. It’s too crazy. I mean—just think of it. Anyhow, I plan to get in touch with Luca Spaghetti just as soon as possible.”
Writing in 2003, Elizabeth Gilbert, the journalist and author, used those words to introduce one of the characters of her new book, Eat, Pray, Love, the true story of her yearlong journey of rebirth across Italy, India, and Indonesia, in search of herself and true love. That young man—whose name seemed like something out of a tourist brochure about Italy, who had driven her around Rome on the back of his beat-up scooter, dragged her to the stadium to watch Sunday soccer matches, and had taken her out to sample dishes that only a real Roman could love and appreciate—was me.
How could I ever have imagined that, in any country I visited around the world, I’d find copies of Liz’s books at the airport, or that my face would wind up on one of the most popular television shows in the United
States, the Oprah Winfrey Show, where Liz would show the viewers a photograph of the two of us together in Rome? Who would have thought that readers from every walk of life and from around the world would ask me, curiously: Are you the Luca Spaghetti? And last of all, who would have ever thought that the story would be made into a movie, with Julia Roberts playing my friend Liz? Or that I myself would be portrayed in that movie, played by a likable and jovial Italian actor?
Life is odd and full of surprises: Liz taught me that. And she taught me the value of true friendship, the kind of friendship that neither time nor distance can undermine. Friendship, as she and I have said to each other many times, is almost a different kind of love.
In this book, I’ve tried to tell my part of the story: my life, my dreams, my passions, my unexpected and extraordinary friendship with Liz, and the joys of my beloved birthplace, Rome. The Rome that I have known my whole life, since I was a child playing soccer in the courtyard, being made fun of for a surname that smacks of red checkered tablecloths and tomato sauce; the Rome that I explored inch by inch with Liz, sharing with her my loves and my memories—sharing my whole self, because that is how true friends are made—and in turn learning from her a valuable lesson about life and starting over, how you can always find the strength inside yourself to search, search, search, until you find what you’re really looking for.
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