“Which do you prefer?” someone recently asked me, “Greece or Italy?”
I could just say I love them both the same and leave it at that, but keeping it so simple wouldn’t be much fun. The truth is that I’m torn between my ongoing passionate Italian fling and my long-time love affair with glorious Greece.
I dream of Greece all year round. I have done since I turned 16 in Halkidiki (yes, it was a long time ago but who’s counting?). I dream of lazy days soothing my soul as I swish in Greece’s clear waters. I dream of tzatziki, of tomatoes as big as apples, of tiny family run tavernas on the beach.
I dream in blue and white.
But then there’s Italy, and that first weekend in Venice that changed my life.
Now I get hungry for all things Italian; I lust after one whirlwind trip a year when Italy sucks in every inch of my being and whips me around places like Rome, Verona and the piece of heaven that is the Amalfi Coast. For me, Italy is always non-stop and there’ll never be enough time. Pompeii, Capri, Lake Garda – Italy wants me to see it all.
I need to see it all.
But then Greece whispers in my ear to tell me there’s an island waiting for me. An island where for me, time will stop.
Of course, Italy will tell me there are plenty of peaceful places up his sleeve too, but he never lets me rest. He’s always got something else to show me.
In Greece, I find these gems myself, at the pace of a snail. I still soak up history in places like Crete’s Knossos and I see village life inland from the island shores – I just do it more slowly than I do in Italy. I don’t know why – I just do.
So which do I prefer?
How can I ever really answer that? You see, as much as I can picture Italy ready to kiss me on both cheeks, eager to pour me a glass of sparkling Prosecco, I can also see Greece waiting to embrace me with a hug that will swallow me up, while the sun bakes today’s freshly caught octopus overlooking the sea.
There’s no way I can make a choice between my two legendary loves.
But then, why would I ever have to? These two will never meet after all. I can devote myself to both equally whenever they call to me.
When it comes to Greece and Italy, for once I’m going to let myself have it all.
Have you been to Greece or Italy?