Sunday, September 13, 2009

With Pizza, Who Needs Fast Food ?

Having only really spent time in the UK and America, I guess I thought that the fast food market domination of companies like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC was worldwide.

If I Googled those companies and their worldwide locations, I'd probably find that they do indeed have outlets in most countries and I know my recent trip to Italy was only for 2 weeks so I only visited a few places, but I only saw a couple of McDonalds along the roads and only one in a town (Como) and even there it was tastefully encorporated into the environment. As for the other companies, they were conspicuous by their absence.

We passed through and stopped at lots of small Tuscan hill towns that looked like they'd not changed much in centuries. A modern fast food outlet would've been so out of place that I was glad we didn't see any. Actually it wasn't just fast food outlets that would've been out of place there; the way that the locals incorporated their shops into the old style buildings was a joy to behold.

In most cases, these stores and shops never encroached beyond the original walls and looked like some of the so called new areas in our UK cities where we've tried to create fancy boutiques and antique shops in old abandoned warehouses, empty dockland areas and Victorian tunnels and alleys. In many places we visited in Italy, they've done it so much better because they had whole towns to work with and not just a few select areas.

Along every street we'd come across shop after shop almost hiding in arched recesses or more elaborate sections somehow carved into the stone walls and we could imagine how the products had simply changed over the many centuries from simple earthernware cooking utensils to the more modern wares on sale now. Nothing had changed along these streets except the products on sale in the shops and now that tourism was key to the survival of these small hill towns, only the occasion rack of postcards or a small table of beautifully glazed plates would break the continuous smooth lines of the walls.

When the shutters closed every evening, the narrow streets would revert to how they looked many centuries ago with no signs at all of any modern business taking place there and it made for lovely quiet walks and we could easily imagine the towns as they were 2,000 or so years ago.

With the bright Italian sun casting deep shadows along the tall narrow streets, it made photography difficult as often one side would be in deep shadow and the other side in blinding light as the sun shone on the steep smooth walled buildings. Again our eyes could just about cope but I needed more ability with the camera to capture it properly.

But you can see how a BK or KFC would've been so out of place there and who needed them when you could buy a slice of pizza and walk along enjoying it and the spectacular surroundings. With a napkin as support, it was all the fast food you needed and there was no carton or box to dispose of afterwards.

The ultimate fast food and just so, so Italian. Perfect.

Ronald, mate, you're just not needed in Italy.....or San Marino.


Daphne said...

I loved the way that the towns have been preserved much as they were. Siena in particular has done a grand job in mopping up all tourist cars in a huge underground car park at the entrance to the town - fantastic! Your photos are a perfect evocation of how it is. Sighhhhh.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Well I've been catching up and apart from the horrendous blowout experience, it sounds like a wonderful trip was had by all.

I have never made it to Lake Como, but have done everywhere else you went and it is a fabulous country. You were so lucky with your hotel at the lake and now you have me drooling for real Italian pizza!

jay said...

I think pizza - along with Cornish pasties, Lancashire 'foot's (feet?), Scotch eggs and the like - were the original fast food. And so much better than the plastic, overprocessed gunk we get fobbed off with today!

Beautiful photos! I don't know what you're complaining about!

J.J said...

I've just been in Beijing where there are 162 KFC's (but no, we didn't try them all!)

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