“When we drink coffee, ideas march in like the army” – Balzac
Italy is the home of ideas. Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, the Medici, Armani and Versace; all influenced the way the world turns. Italians generate ideas with a certain sense of nonchalance; something they refer to as sprezzatura. A word coined by Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), meaning to make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it. Castiglione wrote a handbook (The Book of the Courtier) where he instructs those attending the Renaissance court how to seek favor and succeed in business without really trying.
Castiglione was just one of many Italians who over the centuries generated ideas that effected the rise and fall of empires and hemlines. Not all Italians with great ideas had a cup of java on their drawing boards but I bet there were a fair number who had more than one un caffe’ per day. Like those who are credited with creating the ubiquitous tiramisu (and there are many contenders). This espresso fueled Tuscan trifle is considered to be one of the 10 Best Desserts in the World . A web search for “tiramisu inspires me” came up with no less than 374,000 hits. That’s a lot of ideas marching around out there.