Ciao!: Here for It, #319

Ciao, sono R. Eric Thomas. Da Internet? CIAO!

I am writing this to you from Italy! What a lark! Well, technically, by the time I'm done this I'll be writing on the plane, and whenever you read this I'll be back in America (crowd boos). I have seen some of the most beautiful pieces of art ever created and I have had roughly 14 espressos a day for a week, each one at the perfect, most quaffable temperature. How am I supposed to go back to my old life? While you're reading this, I will be drinking American coffee (derogatory) that I made myself (crowd boos, throws the most delicious tomatoes you've ever tasted).

Okay, lemme tell you: Italy? The country of Italia?? Really is that girl! Congratulations to Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, whom I believe are the president and secretary of state of Italy.

David and me on the day the temperature dipped below 60.

As I told you last week, I didn't go in with a plan beyond "see the David statue" and "go to the Vatican (because the Pope owes me $20 from a bet we made about the Oscars)." I ended up completely transformed. Yo soy Italiano! I saw works of art I'd been thinking about since my freshman year Art History class, works I never even considered I'd get to see. I got so close to Bernini's Proserpina and his version of a David statue and Botticelli's Birth of Venus and so many more! My low-key secret dream is just to talk about art all the time and this trip reminded me of that in a huge way.

This is MARBLE! I have been thinking about the skill and precision in the hand placement and pressure, the hair movement, and the expressions for 20-some years!

In my enthusiasm for Florence and Rome, I took 9,000 photos (barely an exaggeration) and shared all of my thoughts art on Instagram like I was doing Eric Reads the Renaissance. You can find the full slideshow here.

I became obsessed with finding every depiction of John the Baptist and ranking how bad a day he seemed to be having.

I love to travel with no plan and tell my friends I have no plan and then spend the first day fully dropping into my factory setting (which is "enthusiastic!") and then show up the rest of the week not just with a plan, but with a regimen. (Crowd boos) I just get excited and I want to see everything and I get worried I won't get to eat all the good food. I don't like research but I do like googling; I'm like a high school junior who is about to flunk AP History.

So I am chill but also if everyone is "fine with whatever" well... I did take a couple pages of notes and screenshot a few itineraries on Google Maps and color-coded a spreadsheet with all the things we need to eat. Yes, I have watched 20 TikToks about desserts that don't seem like they taste great but photograph well and which we must get anyway and yes the line forms at 7 am and no we don't have to go but lol what if we did?... Just for fun.

Me with some novelty gourmet hot pocket I read about on a blog.

I do have one complaint and it's about time zones which, as a harbinger of reality, are my nemesis. My least favorite thing about traveling to Europe (he says having gone to Europe twice now) is having to stay up all day so you can escape the ghosts of Time Zones past. We landed at 7 am and I didn't sleep on the plane, so I knew I'd have to stay awake until evening, Italian time, so that the Keebler Elves who run my internal clock would be appeased and I wouldn't be a zombie. This is not a preferable situation. I only like to leap forward in time zones because when you fly, say, from Philly to Los Angeles, that first day you're still on East Coast time and suddenly you become the kind of person who is chipper and fully functional and ready to rock'n'roll at like 5 am. I only go to Orange Theory in Los Angeles and only on that first day when the time zones have life-coached me into being a better person.

A time zone trying desperately to get me to get my life together.

But! After drinking like 6 espressos that first, long 36 hour day, I immediately went to sleep and then woke the next morning at 7 am! I trotted down from Florentine street and enjoyed the BEST cappuccino I've ever had. The time travel goblin never got me! That's the magic of Italia! Grazie!

Me, every 3-4 hours for the rest of my life.

Oh! They're serving lunch on the plane right now. There's a choice between meatballs with mashed potatoes and cheese tortellini with red sauce. And each one of these lunatics here in steerage, myself included, is ordering this reheated, gloppy tortellini despite the fact that we just left Italy where we spent the entire time eating the best pasta of our lives. They need to divert this plane from Philadelphia and take us all right to Gotham City where we can be locked in Arkham Asylum with the Joker and Harley Quinn.

Every passenger on this plane, embracing chaos.

Anyway, I promise I am not going to turn this newsletter into Eric's Italian Digest but I do have a story for next week about a deranged encounter I had standing on the dome of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, 114 meters in the air. Yes, that's right: my personality is "Has gone to Italy"--so I use-a the metric system now. And I drink-a the espresso and I eat-a this disgusting airplane-a pasta-a!

Let's hang out!

On March 18th, Theatre Exile is producing a reading of a new playMore info.

On April 2nd, I'm hosting The Moth StorySlam in Philadelphia. The theme is Green. Tickets here.

On April 13th I'll be at the San Antonio Book Festival!

On May 2nd, my play An Army of Lovers begins performances at Azuka Theater. Tickets reservations are free (pay-what-you-wish after the performance). Some performances will sell out, so grab your tickets early here.