1. Having 100 pizzas to choose from on the menu.

Want a salad on top of your pizza? You got it. A fried egg in the middle of the pie? Coming right up.

The boy at my neighborhood pizzeria would even toss the dough as high as the ceiling and then shape it into hearts for the American girls. As if I wasn’t already swooning over the menu…

2. Aperitivo Happy Hour.

You mean for only 10 Euros I get this super strong, somehow delicious cocktail plus all I could possibly eat from the spread of appetizers and pasta dishes overflowing the bar top? Happy hour anywhere else just doesn’t get it.

3. Warming up with a cioccolata calda.

This drink changes your definition of hot chocolate permanently. Why would I ever want a watery, chocolate-flavored hot drink again? No, no, I want chocolate that is so hot it’s melted to a liquid. And don’t forget the whipped cream.

4. The original coffee culture.

There’s something about the purity of standing at a bar top sipping espresso out of a real cup that American coffee shops and their jumbo, sugar-loaded, coffee-flavored drinks just can’t replicate.

5. Beautiful curse words.

Even when Italians swear, it sounds like they’re singing.

6. Hand gestures

And when a lyrical language like Italian still doesn’t have quite enough expressive power, you always have your hands.

7. Shoes

I’m still in the market for a perfect pair of gold sneakers.

8. Having postcard cities right in your backyard.

Hop on a train and you can spend your weekend floating down the Grand Canal in a touristy gondola or staring in awe at Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica.

9. REAL Gelato

All the American “Italian” restaurants out there really need to stop calling their ice cream “gelato” like it’s going to make their menus look authentic. The real deal isn’t scraped out of a frosty carton at the back of a freezer. It’s served ultra creamy in flavors like pistachio, hazelnut, and stracciatella and then slurped down in a sunny piazza.

10. Focaccia

For when pasta and pizza don’t give you quite enough carbs to get through the day.

11. PDA

When old couples walk down city sidewalks hand in hand and young lovers make out under statues in the middle of public piazzas, you can’t help getting addicted to the Italians’ zest for love and life.

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