Behind her: a seven-year marriage, a wrenching divorce, a disastrous affair. What Elizabeth Gilbert needed was a little distance. Make that a lot of distance. So she took a deep breath, dropped everything, and got out of town. In this excerpt from her book, she discovers the pleasures of Rome; the joy of learning 10 Italian idioms a day; the amazing eyes of her language buddy, Giovanni; and the healing power of pizza.
Italy or "Say It Like You Eat It" or 36 Tales About the Pursuit of Pleasure
I wish Giovanni would kiss me.
Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea. To begin with, Giovanni is ten years younger than I am, and—like most Italian guys in their twenties—he still lives with his mother. These facts alone make him an unlikely romantic partner for me, given that I am a professional American woman in my mid-thirties, who has just come through a failed marriage and a devastating, interminable divorce, followed immediately by a passionate love affair that ended in sickening heartbreak. This loss upon loss has left me feeling sad and brittle and about seven-thousand years old. Purely as a matter of principle, I wouldn't inflict my sorry, busted-up old self on the lovely, unsullied Giovanni. Not to mention that I have finally arrived at that age where a woman starts to question whether the wisest way to get over therthe loss of one beautiful brown-eyed young man is indeed to promptly invite another one into her bed. This is why I have been alone for many months now. This is why, in fact, I have decided to spend this entire year in celibacy.
To which the savvy observer might inquire: "Then why did you come to Italy?"
To which I can only reply—especially when looking across the table at handsome Giovanni—"Excellent question."
Giovanni is my Tandem Exchange Partner. That sounds like an innuendo but un-fortunately is not. All it really means is that we meet a few evenings a week here in Rome to practice each other's language. We speak first in Italian, and he is patient with me; then we speak in English, and I am patient with him. I discovered Giovanni a few weeks after I arrived in Rome, thanks to that big Internet café at the Piazza Barberini, across the street from that fountain with the sculpture of that sexy merman blowing into his conch shell. He (Giovanni, that is—not the merman) had posted a flier on the bulletin board explaining that a native Italian speaker was seeking a native English speaker for conversational language practice. Right beside his appeal was another flier with the same request, word-for-word identical in every way, right down to the typeface. The only difference was the contact information. One flier listed an e-mail address for some-body named Giovanni; the other introduced somebody named Dario. But even the home phone number was the same.
Using my keen intuitive powers, I e-mailed both men at the same time, asking in Italian, "Are you perhaps brothers?"
It was Giovanni who wrote back this very provocativo message: "Even better. Twins!"
Yes—much better. Tall, dark, and handsome identical twenty-five-year-old twins, as it turned out, with those giant brown liquid-center Italian eyes that just unstitch me. ...
We Hear You!