Before heading back to America (sniff sniff, but I’ll be back very soon!!) my cousin suggested we take a trip to Italy since neither of us had ever been. Leave it to me to be hesitant to part from Armenia for a week, but I couldn’t miss the chance to experience the sensory overload that is Italia. Since I’ve been living in Yerevan for the last 5 months, I couldn’t help but tell people I’m from Armenia (versus America), and to compare it to Italy.
In many ways they’re vastly different, but in terms of the obsession with food, and the emphasis on religion and the abundance of churches, they’re very much alike. And of course, I serendipitously ended up seeing a friend from Yerevan who lives in Florence; all because another group of friends who were also in town randomly met him while sitting on the steps of a church one afternoon. It was like having a little piece of Armenia in Italy.
Before I head back to Armenia in a couple days, I decided to make a list of how Armenia and Italy are both alike and different. Here it is:
Churches: Both places have a lot, a lot of them. Everywhere you turn. But Italy’s cathedrals are way more ornate and over the top.
Food: Sure, Italy is known for its pizzas and pastas and tiramisu, and they’re damn good at it (my ultimate favorite restaurant was Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Florence) but I actually think Armenia might have more of a variety in fare (Italian, Lebanese, Persian, Indian, etc). Of course Italy has non-Italian spots too, but as a tourist you’re mainly encouraged to eat authentic Italian. And don’t even bother ordering a salad or trying to be “healthy,” you will be totally underwhelmed.
Plazas: Armenia has a few squares, Hraparak being the largest, but Italy takes the cake in this category. There’s a piazza this and a piazza that every few steps it seems. My favorite is Piazza della Repubblica in Florence because it has the most charming merry-go-round.
Service: Believe it or not, I have experienced better service in Yerevan this time around. Nowadays, as soon as your Coke is done or your ashtray has a few ashes, they hop to it. To the point where you almost think it’s too fast. Not all the places we’ve gone, but generally in Italy it has taken a while before the waiters approach your table and bring the check. It reminded me of how Armenia was a few years ago.
Transportation: Hands down there are way more taxis in Yerevan. More than regular cars. In Italy you have to call a taxi versus hailing one, which can naturally take longer. But the train system in Italy and Europe is incomparable.
Aesthetics: There’s no denying that Italy is a more visually stunning country. It has so many intricacies and details to behold. Even the people are sharper dressed. I can’t speak for their niceness in comparison to Armenians since I don’t speak the native language, but generally both are hospitable.
We’re off to explore San Lazzaro, the Armenian island in Venice tomorrow, so stay tuned!