Thursday, May 11, 2006

Five Reasons Why I love London (because it's so similar to Italy)

I lived in London for a year in 1999 but for various reasons moved back to Leicester. During these 6 years I found myself craving the company of the big smoke. Sardine tin tubes, bumper to bumper traffic and exorbitant rent did not deter me from wanting to reside in this superbly intoxicating city. I always seem to find myself bumping into people from my past. I bumped into an old friend from school the other day in the Tescos next to my house (I had to make excuses for my chavy attire - I was wearing tracky bottoms and had just nipped out thinking I wouldn't see anyone I know) and bizzarely ran into a friend I'd lost touch with from Dubai in the college where I work. Anyway, that aside, I've realised that the reason why I prefer to live in London over any other city in the UK is because it's so similar to Italy for the following reasons:

1. People don't queue for buses in Italy and neither do they here. It's generally a mad scramble with elbows aloft, walking sticks waving and whatever else people can get their hands on to use and prod in the general direction of other people trying to get on - you can even sneakily jump the queue if you time it right and join it at the opposite side just as the doors open and nobody says a word. In Leicester (my home town) people stand in a perfect line and if anyone ever tries to jump it someone will always complain. I think it's a ridiculous sight to see people standing in line like soldiers on parade. I don't see non-queuing as rudeness, just common sense - it should be every man for himself, although I would offer old Doris a seat if she didn't have one. My cousin in Milan offered her seat to an elderly looking lady once to which the woman snapped 'Ma pensi che sono cosi vecchia' - 'Do you think I'm that old'. She hasn't offered her seat to anyone since.

2. People wear sunglasses in all weathers. In you were to wear sunglasses in winter in any other city, you'd probably get the same reaction as if you were to wear a BNP T-shirt in Brixton. Not that I don't think people who wear sunglasses in winter aren't complete arseholes, I just like what it represents - the fact that people can do whatever they want (although this is slightly contradictory as Italians are probably one of the nations that conform the most in terms of fashion).

3. The pizzas in London are decent. Just a short walk from my flat there's Pizzeria Pappagone, La Porchetta and Pizza Delique. When I go to Pappagone I sometimes forget I'm in England - the staff are all Italian and the pizza is to die for - a gigantic melt in the mouth disk topped with delicious fresh ingredients such as artichokes, parma ham and buffalo mozzarella. Outside of London there are some ok pizza chains but the base is usually akin to cardboard and the cheese a 'watered down' version replacing most of the mozzarella with cheddar. I feel sick.

4. Cafes with outside tables. Soho is one of my favourite places in the summer - I remember taking a friend there last year on Saturday morning and having breakfast at Bar Italia. We sat outside in the sunshine and sipped (albeit expensive) coffee. You just don't get that cosmopolitan atmosphere anywhere else. Some British cities are trying, although a couple of steel tables next to the roadside just doesn't cut it.

5. Vespas. And plenty of them. Whenever I hear that beautiful sound of the engine (which I do quite a lot in London) it inspires nothing but pure nostalgia.

30 comments:

Camie Vog said...

Nice post! It was great having the page open up to the Vespa. I am in dreamland over getting a scooter. I need one with a side car though, so I can ferry my kid around...
Found you via *(asterisk). I'll bookmark you for future reads. Nice picture, by the way

a.c.t said...

Thanks for dropping by, I'll come and visit soon. Check this out, I've found you a Vespa with side car: http://www.quepo.com/queposite/vespa/vesmod/vesside.html

wrinkled weasel said...

I tend to agree with Colonel Mustard about London, even though he really has no right to hijack my blog.

Try Valvona and Crolla next time you are in Edinburgh.

My Vespa 125 looked very like the one in the picture.

* (asterisk) said...

I had a pizza from La Porchetta once, takeaway. Unforch, by the time it got home via Saturday-night, north London traffic, it was soggy and cold. (This was when I still lived in north London, obviously.)

Can you believe how much an espresso costs in Soho versus the 80 cents or so in Italy? Outrageous!

And finally... The Italian friends we had over a couple of weeks ago: we took them to Ed's in Soho and they thought they were in heaven. And they were amazed by all the Vespas.

a.c.t said...

WW I've heard about Valvona & Crolla, but I haven't been to Edinburgh yet. Perhaps you should change your blog password to stop him - overpaid wannabee indeed (frankly I think it's just jealousy).

* Asterik, I haven't tried Ed's yet but I'll give it a go. I know, the price of coffee in the UK is ridiculous and it isn't really justified.

Wuching said...

lol, ppl in australia will definitely line up for just about anything! we're organised..:D

wearing sunglasses when there's no sun is just ridiculous, fashionable or not..just my 2 cents worth!

u should know by now melbourne also has plenty of outdoor cafe, comparable to italy, no?

have a great weekend!

a.c.t said...

Ah yes, Melbourne has it all. I'd probably even prefer to live in Melbourne if it wasn't so far away. It's a perfect city packed with great bars, restaurants, delis, loads of Italians and plenty of sunshine. Bring it closer! You have a great weekend too.

Travel Italy said...

Have you seen the new Vespa for the "balance challenged"? It is a tricycle with two wheels in front! Should be an interesting development!

the cappuccino kid said...

as a commited (ought to be) scooterist/skinhead, it was a joy to behold the very nice picture at the top of your blog. camee to you via the get humped page as you are below me in the list to be humped!
not got time to read you in depth yet, but i promise i will be back.

and hi to camie, don't you get about!

you too mr *!

small world!

the cappuccino kid said...

p.s. forgot to say, good luck with your hump! i am shitting myself. wish i aint done it. who is he to judge?

a.c.t said...

Travel - I haven't heard of that. I've had a look on the internet and I've only come across tricycle Vespas for kids - they're pretty cool too.
Fatfiz - I'm quite scared about this getting humped thing too. I see you're just before me. Who is he to comment? Hmm better not say anything too bad in case he reads this ;-)

hangthedj said...

I loved this post...your reason's for London are all the same as mine more or less.

I Love Bar Italia, if only for the Pulp reference and the waiters in La Porchetta (Exmouth Market branch) are fit.

* (asterisk) said...

Hello FatFiz. Yes I've been a regular here for a little while.

I felt the same about the humping thing when it came to it. Good luck to all of you waiting for it... It's reasonably painless. Honest.

a.c.t said...

Cheers HTDJ, glad you liked it. I love that area around Exmouth Market although I've been once to a place called Cafe` Kick - a really cool small bar with table football tables.

martinobhoy said...

a.c.t

I think we are getting there in Edinburgh. We have some great Italian restaurants, a cosmopolitan atmosphere and as mentioned we have Valvona & Crolla.

The only thing we cant guarantee is the Italian weather!

Aidan said...

All sounds entirely reasonable. Must admit not seeing too many Vespas tearing up the English A-ways, even when living down near Be-Right-On, but would like to...

Been tempted several times by Bar Italia, not just because of the excellent Pulp songs, but also for late-night drinking purposes, and also searching for strangely-rare venues in Soho to see live football games... Will finally delve in there one day, I'm sure... Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but etcetcetc...

a.c.t said...

I'll definitely be watching an Italian game or two in there during the world cup.
Martinobhoy, Edinburgh calls, I've just had a look at V & C menu.

K said...

It's been far too long since I've been to London. Thanks for reminding me I'm overdue.

wrinkled weasel said...

Meet me at V&C when you come to Edinburgh. Honest I am not really a perv.

martinobhoy said...

a.c.t

And the great thing is that the menu changes daily. Also they print the wine recommendation beside each dish although you can also choose from their wide range of wine in the shop rather than simply taking something off the menu.

As I said it's definitely well worth a visit if you are in Edinburgh.

Spangly Princess said...

am totally with you on the motorino front. in fact was thinking about this the other evening... a warm spring night, the jasmine flowering, being whizzed around central rome on the back of a vespa by a cute roman boy in the moonlight...


shame he's a juventino but you can't have everything.

a.c.t said...

K,no problem. New York is high on my list of places to visit.

Weasel, whatever makes you think I think you're a perv? Could it have been comments about my bra per chance? It's all forgotten, I'm sure it was all said in banter.

Spangly Princess, you are fortunate to be living in Rome and with the summer coming up you'll have the pick of the bunch on their motorini (although I wouldn't get on the back of a scooter with a Juventino if you paid me :-P)

* (asterisk) said...

Soon be getting humped now...

Travel Italy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a.c.t said...

It's not working travel.

Aidan said...

Plenty of good Italiano pizzerias recommended in London town... does anyone have best suggestions for finest Italian-style pasta dishes?

a.c.t said...

AKR the best (non pizzeria) Italian restaurant I've been to is aperitivo on Beak Street. You order lots of individual dishes to share, a bit like Italian tapas. When we went we had the ravioli stuffed with wild boar which was to die for. Here's the link.

http://www.aperitivo-restaurants.com

Carluccio's restaurants/cafe`s also do very good pasta as it's all home made.

Travel Italy said...

Let's try this one. It should be the first media box in the window that appears.

Travel Italy said...

ACT - the link is www.it.piaggio.com. It works on my machine. hope this helps.

a.c.t said...

Thanks Travel, it's a bit strange but I really like it. The new Vespa is also really cool as the design is similar to the original.