An Italian childhood might not produce adults who are more brilliant or adventurous or thrusting than elsewhere, but it produces people who are marvellously adept at setting up that sympathetic resonance, no matter what situation they find themselves in. Flying in from the cold, this ability arouses our suspicions if not our hackles, all those ready smiles and expansive gestures, all those hearts on sleeves: how can they mean it? How can they be sincere?
After a while, the penny drops and we see that sincerity is beside the point. What matters is to be on the same wavelength as the person in front of you, whether you care for them or not, whether or not you will ever see them again.

Peter Popham