YES Italy Is A Venusian Country, as Carla Ciccone, Aries AND Italian (too much?) emphasizes eloquently.
When Venus Rules
While living in Rome a few years ago, I was hired to help an Italian screenwriter write the English version of her script and treatment. After we sorted out the details, I said, ‘ok, let’s draw up the contract!’ She laughed and shook her head. Drawing up a freelance contract in Italy is about as futile as attempting to be a vegan here. Like, why even bother?
I was confused, and my sturdy North American ‘business sense’ a little offended, but this is Italy, she explained, and business, like everything else, should be conducted with a healthy dose of ‘relax and enjoy.’
After that, I began to approach all Italians like they were the goddess Venus.
Even though Venus’s temple currently stands half destroyed among the ruins in Rome’s forum, Romans created and glorified the goddess of love, good looks, good sex and good taste with a certain lifestyle in mind. The conservation of that lifestyle is front and centre in everything Italians do.
One need only go to an Italian household for lunch to get a taste of this. The experience is often like being hosted by the Empress herself. She’ll likely make you a three-course feast, with wine and two types of water to choose from. You might discuss the weather and your health and how the air conditioner is to blame for your sore kidneys and the humidity outside for that cough you have. She’ll ask about your love life with a twinkle in her eye while peeling the skin off a fig, and then offer you espresso and dessert. After, you will be encouraged to rest on a bed or couch, sleep if you want, and recharge before taking a late afternoon stroll to ensure proper digestion and a bit of exercise.
The feminine divine is exalted. Beauty is worshipped in all its forms. From their handsome faces and impeccable clothes, to their stunning vistas and lovely language, Italians are born and brought up to live and honour the good life. Their minds seem programmed to operate from the outside in—that is—pretty on the outside makes for content on the inside. Or it should.
This is ‘la bella figura.’ Although it sounds like it could be a Fellini movie about a man whose conflicted emotions are at odds with his tortured mind, with several women central to the drama, la bella figura is a pretty common phrase that means, ‘the beautiful figure.’ It’s used to describe the effort to always present your life as beautiful, no matter what. Thanks, Venus.
The film, ‘I Am Love,’ with the magnificent Tilda Swinton playing the dissatisfied but immaculately dressed wife of a rich Milanese man is a perfect example of la bella figura. Her life, like much of Italy, is largely dedicated to maintaining appearances.
My parents took me to Disneyland when I was 5-year-old, and by the time I ran into Minnie Mouse’s arms, I had decided to stay there forever. Exhausted from sun and rides and soaring emotional highs, I broke down and cried as we were leaving. ‘I’ll stay with Pluto!’ I begged, pulling my mom’s arm towards the big dog, who was learning against a car in the parking lot. Just then, Pluto pulled off his mascot head and hands and a sweaty, human man with a dog body lit a cigarette. (It was the 80s).
In the same way, Italy is Disneyland for adults—full of all the earthly, and some holy, delights of life with less of the guilt that’s often associated with them. Italia-Venus will greet you with a smile and a warm embrace, like Minnie Mouse, and you will be consumed by your adoration for her and her offerings.
After you’ve experienced a place where the object is to enjoy the best of everything you see, taste, smell, hear and touch, it’s jarring to go back to cracked concrete sidewalks, oily pizza and frothy, burnt cappuccinos. Once Venus has touched you, you forever long for her silky hand.
But you should never, ever see her smoking with her head off.
Italy does high-Venus better than the rest, but when she goes low-Venus, she does it with as much gusto as she does everything else. Truth, clarity and sanity are sometimes sacrificed trying to maintain la bella figura. It’s common for marriages in which both parties are cheating on each other to have, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, go to church with the family on Sunday’ policies. You can definitely live la dolce vita, but for the sempre-sweet, you must turn a blind eye to the sour. On a larger scale, this presents as an ongoing economic crisis, immigration problems, backwards politics, illogical bureaucracy, everyday thievery and massive mafia corruption.
Empress Italia has always swung between the agony and the ecstasy. She’s been conquered, praised, sacked, burned down and passed around by emperors, kings, dictators, politicos and Mafiosos, but she’s never really belonged to anyone.
Like the seas that surround her boot, and the winding river Tiber that runs through Rome’s middle, you can drink, touch, swim, and enjoy, but try to hold on and she’ll calmly pass right around you.
Even though Italy’s problems seem insurmountable, Venus raises a perfectly arched eyebrow when the New York Times runs articles declaring Rome’s impending ruin like it’s something new.
Roma knows better. She rises up, again and again.
Venus-ruled Italy always finds a way to maintain the beautiful life, even amongst the ruins.
The Italian Soccer Team arriving, elegantly, at the 2014 World Cup.
Previously From Carla Ciccone – The Empress & The Thief