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Grazyna Kownacka

My Italy

To go back in my mined and searching the moments when the Italy, in some way, interlaced with my life I think I have to start form the beginning of the high school (National High School of Art) when at the classes of art history I submit to a big fascination of Italian art, especially to a period of Italian Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rafael Santi for the long time were, and still are, truly important for my art experience. Big and important part of enormous tradition on the field of the history of art composes also architecture, especially thus most famous, mainly sacred architecture. I've seen them in handbooks, touristy folders or finely in the TV programs and the press, each time they made big impression on me.

First time I went to Italy during this year (2006) to see my daughter which is Erasmus student in Vercelli, and now I can say that none of thus media are able to show the truly beauty of thus places, incredible experience and  impressions when you can stand in the front of thus buildings, seen them, touch them. To me was given the opportunity to see the Milan Cathedra (Duomo), I'm not able to say how many time I had seen it before: imagine, documents, films etc. The Cathedra is really incredible, huge interior and beautiful weaving terrace, real architectural pearl, which gave my unusual experience. From this "meeting" stick in my memory also other reminiscence, which I didn't see anywhere else. I mean the police which were letting in the tourists and controlling all there bags. In the contests of this situation I connect them with pope guardians.

The Old Milan, the architectonic surroundings of the cathedra, the Sforza's Palace and, incredible for my, the exhibition of da Vinci's art on the big billboards on the main streets of Milan. This form of promoting the art, especially so important for my, truly gushed my over.

My student years it's especially film. The Italian neorealism, then P.P. Passolini, M. Antonioni and finely "juicy", colorful and amazing F. Fellini that's the most important points from thus years. From this period I remember also the figure of Maria Kornatowska which was the specialist of Italian films. She's perceives my as colorful, a fascinating in the Italian film and culture that could speak and write about it with a great passion. From the after years, especially thus that shows American point of view I remember really good "the Gladiator" with enormous Coliseum and charming American drama "Under the Toscana Sun". This last one let my to make confrontation with my one experience and observations, especially that most of the time I spend not in the big touristy cities but in a small towns - like the main character of this film. I realize that most of the things I could confirm. For example a shutters in every windows! As well as image of Italian people. Usually we see them as a people that seems to have a lot of free time, they don't like to be hurry, are friendly, warm, open and kind - ad list in the films. But after all my observations... it's not only a film! One day for example I went to Stresa (near Laggo Magiore), weather was awful, was raining and we didn't have any umbrella, so in the bar at the stations we asked barman for some plastic bags and he gave us his umbrella, in Vercelli, in turn, young man which were sealing vegetables gave my a lemon, just like that, gratis! And finely Bergamo, when I was coming back to Poland, I've met one Italian, which were speaking in polish (his wife were from Poland) he gave my magazine for plain.

My incredible fascination and enchantment after my being in Italy was Italian kitchen. Generally I've heard about it hundreds of times, spaghetti almost in every Italian move, long meals, table full of plates. But direct confrontation with the world of Italian kitchen and food was unforgettable. For sure I will never forget my shock when I went to Carrefour (big supermarket), which exist also in Poland, hundreds kinds of... everything! Pasta, olives, cheese, vegetables, fruits, frutti di mare generally what you want. I've never seen so many things in the supermarket like this one. The beast confirming of my enchantment is that after I come back to Poland I absolutely hanged my culinary preference. Now I definitely am trying to cook Italian food, ad list when I have enough money and I able to find staff which I need in the polish shops, without paying enormous prices.

A separate element of Italian culture is off ours coffee. That's quite strange, because I didn't see it a lot in films. Maybe except "Coffee and cigarettes" but I didn't note, and I think it wasn't directly connected with Italian culture. At the beginning I couldn't believe that thus cups are so small! I was always drink "American coffee", as they saying in Italy, in normal cup, not in coffee cup. So for me even "café lungo" was small. But I have to say that this "small" Italian coffee it's really "big", grate and fantastic: taste, aroma. One of the beautiful things I've ever seen (connected with kitchen of course). As soon as I come back to Poland I bought small kettle to make it every day.

What else? Maybe two words about fashion. Oh yes, the world of fashion, the world of big and famous creators, stunning photos from fashion shows. That's image, full of glamour life and fireworks is sticking in memory after all thus TV transitions and hundreds of photos which we can find in color magazines. After that via Montenapoleone, as I've heard one o the famous fashion streets in the world is truly surprising. I can't say that I was disappointed because of its ascetic character, but I realized how powerful are mass-media which are promoting treads and names as Armani, Gucci, Prada, etc.

What I'm dreaming about? Of course to come back to Italy once again!


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