Head or Heart?

The observant among you may have noticed it’s been a while since I posted on this blog. This is because, like many others, we’ve been partaking of the annual mass migration from north to south in the hope of finding a bit of sun, meals we don’t have to cook ourselves and some quality family time together.

Somewhat eccentrically, we prefer to avoid airports and planes in favour of stuffing the family car with everything we could possibly need – and much that we don’t – and taking a leisurely drive through France towards Italy, where we have friends and relatives.

William the Conqueror's Castle, Falaise, Normandy.

William the Conqueror’s Castle, Falaise, Normandy.

Done properly, the travelling is as much a part of the holiday as the time we spend at our destination. We’ve got it down to a fine art; crossing the channel in the evening, spending the night in one of the picturesque towns in Northern France such as Falaise or Reims and then heading on south.

I enjoy the car journeys. I’m lucky because the spouse prefers to do the driving, so I can spend the time watching the countryside gradually change as I plot out story ideas in my head. On the way there, you have the anticipation of what’s to come; on the way back, the sense of eking out the time away just that little bit longer.

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral

We’ve got into the habit of spending our last night away in Amiens, which has a stunning 13th century cathedral and an attractive river frontage lined with a plethora of bars and restaurants. A slap-up dinner is always a nice way to bring the holiday to a proper conclusion.

We spent quite a lot of the time away discussing the relative merits of France and Italy. I love them both for different reasons. Italy is warm and convivial – especially as we tend to spend much of the time with family. The food is incomparable and the landscape stunning.

Al Mare in Tuscany

‘Al Mare’ in Tuscany

However Italy these days has a run-down air about it and our friends complain about declining public services and the difficulty of finding work, especially for young people. France always feels slightly cooler and less welcoming, but just seems to work better, with excellent roads and the sense of things being well organised and generally better managed.

If I had to choose between the two, it would be a tough decision. My heart would always plump for Italy, but my head tells me that France would definitely be more ‘liveable.’

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6 Comments

Filed under Family, Friends, Screenwriting, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing

6 responses to “Head or Heart?

  1. mac

    Wow – I feel exactly the same about France vs. Italy!!! But I heavily tilt towards Italy, maybe in part as I know Italian but not French..
    And, staying/living in Florence for a while is a bit of an international bubble which is a great thing, and it shelters you a bit from the “run-down” air of other parts of the country 🙂

    But the light and skies of southern France are truly mesmerizing and enchanting too.. 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting and for your comments! My husband’s aunt lives in Galluzzo just outside Florence, but they always decamp to the seaside in the summer. I love Florence, but prefer to visit it during the winter months when it’s a bit quieter and less stuffy.

      • mac

        Ahhhh Galluzzo looks amazing 🙂
        And yep – I also try to stay away from Florence between May and August, but this year it’s been so nice with fresh air and 10 degrees below average here. Not normal, but great! 😀

  2. If I had to choose between France and Italy, it would probably choose France for practical reasons. But I love Italy and the Italians are so much fun. We have spent about equal time in Italy and France on different occasions, and for some reason I’m one of the few people who have found the French to be friendly, helpful and accommodating, especially considering my French is like nonexistent compared to my Spanish and Italian (neither very good either). We lived in Spain for almost 4 years in the late 90’s. We made friends who were from France while we lived in Madrid, and we drove across southern France a couple of times on route to Italy and back while we were living in Spain. We spent 2 weeks in Provence and 3 weeks in Paris in 2013. Almost everyone I know who has visited France has stories about dealing with rude Frenchmen, but the time I spent in France I don’t recall having interactions with any rude Frenchmen. Actually, the French are very polite, and I felt like I was the rude person if anyone was to be considered rude. Just saying!

    • Hi there,
      Nice to hear from you! It’s not that we find the French rude – generally they’re very courteous, but just harder to get to know well. Somehow we’ve managed to make really good, close friendships with a number of Italians and it just hasn’t happened with French people in the same way. I don’t know why that is – perhaps we just haven’t met the right people there, or maybe having family in Italy means that we’ve been more accepted there. The only time we really encountered rudeness was during a visit to Bruges, where we made the mistake of trying to speak French to Flemish speakers; that did not go down well!

  3. Tom

    Hello Veronica and before I go on, I apologise for my long term silence – which is not personal, because it’s been general for a couple of months.
    I enjoy the long drive down the length of the country and then a short ferry journey across to Belgium and more driving.
    My preference would be Germany or the Netherlands. I’ve been to France a couple of times and didn’t feel welcome, even as a tourist, but maybe that’s just me. Italy – after two visits I found it much too hot for my liking. 🙂
    Perhaps my preferences are what they are because our son lives in Amsterdam and we go over every year. I lived in Germany for many years as a serviceman so it feels like a second home.

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