Friday, 12 December 2008

Travels around the World (Showcase) - Italy

Continuing on from my series on travels around the world (showcase) today we’re going to Italy!


In Epcot, the Italy pavilion isn’t one of my favourites, I must say. It IS one of the nicest to look at, in terms of architecture and styling, but once you’ve had a look at it, there isn’t much to actually do in there. Even the shops feel quite small and although they sell some gorgeous things, do not tend to make me linger. There isn’t a movie or attraction here and it is a shame because that, together with the open plan layout of the pavilion, make it likely that people will walk on by, as they can ‘see it all’ just by walking past on the promenade.


To be fair, there are a number of shows and events at the pavilion, the ones I can remember are the ‘living statues’ and the ‘Renaissance players’ (is that what they are called?). I think there once was an Italian musical group performing there too but I’m not sure. In any case, I think that this pavilion could do with a bit more to try and convey the richness of the country…


Confession time: even though I’ve lived in Europe for over 10 years, it took me a long time to actually visit any part of Italy! This is definitely not because I didn’t want to go, as Italy ranks up there as my most wanted to visit places in the world, but I guess things just hadn’t worked out. My heritage is also Italian and I remember my Nona (or grandmother) always cooked Italian food for Christmas and even gave us all kids a glass of red wine to celebrate (in true Italian tradition!) so Italy has always been a part of my life. Anyway, a few years ago I finally had the chance to spend a long weekend with my husband in Rome and you know what? I loved it!


The clean, orderly and civilized view that we get of Italy through its World Showcase pavilion has almost nothing to do with the vibrancy, chaos and energy that is Rome. There are of course many incredible works of arts and buildings to take your breath away, as well as gorgeous vistas and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met but there is also a veneer of chaos that is best represented by the way people drive and park their cars. Every street looks like the aftermath of an earthquake with cars every which way and this careless attitude made me love Rome even more!


Rome is full of history, full of art and full of hidden corners and alleyways and side streets – all things that are very sadly missing from the pavilion. There is no chance of being able to know Rome just by ‘walking on by’ – you have to take a deep breath and jump in, and experience it with all the senses. It has so little to do with the sanitized pavilion in Epcot that I’m surprised the imagineers didn’t do a better job of it, with so much culture to choose from. Sure, the buildings may look like the real thing but if one pavilion can say that it presents a ‘disneyfied’ version of reality (too clean, too sanitized, little to do with reality) this is sadly it.


Next summer we are spending a week in Tuscany, near Pisa and I am quite excited to go back to Italy. I’m hoping to once again take in all the experiences that this rich and vibrant country has to offer. I am happy to be able to get the chance to know the ‘real’ Italy and it also probably means that the next time I’m in Epcot I will once again look at the Italy pavilion from the promenade and carry on around the lagoon onto the next one. Ciao!

2 comments:

Shazza911 said...

how very true!! although I'm not quite sure how you can recreate the sort of chaos that is Italy... It really is one of those places you have to experience... although I do remember eating at the fancy restaurant there and being quite impressed with the handsome waiter...

Julie said...

I'm so glad you visited Italy!! We loved the three years we lived there and we really miss it. It takes some getting used to - there is definitely an Italian way of doing things - but it's beautiful and it's Italy, so you have to love it. :)

And you are right ... Disney's Italy is a lot smaller and cleaner!!

I hope you are feeling well!

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