A requited love affair
Fabulously fashionable ... Rome, Italy. Photo: Getty Images
We have to talk. Ma cherie, it's not you, it's moi: I'm sad to say after this long and devoted love affair, it's time to let go.
At last I've met someone else. Let's face it, though, it was always a one-sided relationship. I loved you dearly but your heart remained immune to me. Repeatedly, I tried in vain to get your attention - sighing over your gorgeous avenues, smiling at waiters, relentlessly trying to perfect your melodic mother tongue ... yet there was nothing but nonchalance.
Like the most handsome man in the room who knows he doesn't have to do anything to be noticed, France ... you ignored me! Which naturally made me want you more.
Until there was Italy.
Ah, Italia. How it flirted, looked me squarely in the eye and warmly shared its gifts from the first hours of our meeting. It had me from buongiorno. Those open arms and double-cheeked kisses, those whole-body smiles and twinkling eyes had me hooked from the start.
Ma belle, I toyed with the idea of keeping you on the side, but now my heart belongs to Italy. Fabulous, fashionable, pleasure-worshipping Italy. From the noisy restaurants of Florence to the quiet, olive-laden hills of Tuscany; from sexy Roman bars to the labyrinthine lanes of Venice, there's something - and someone - to love around every corner.
Lunches that go on and on, beautiful crumbling ruins infused with the beginnings of civilisation, boutiques to drool over, piazzas for late-night people-watching, pastel-coloured country villas to dream about, that all come with a smile at the very least. Most likely a long chat and, if you're really lucky, a song.
True, mon amour, it wasn't all bad. We have had some great times together. I will always remember feeling giddy after drinking champagne and wandering the charming back streets of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, or that Sunday stroll past the bistros of the Marais. The sunny lunch among the lavender of Provence, that heart-tugging garden at Giverny, your sense of style or just how damn good-looking you are. Yes, yes you're gorgeous, but in the end, aloof.
And now I've been dazzled. Your neighbour with the great big personality has me hook, line and cinque de terre. It comes close, looks you in the eye, and flirts - by god it flirts - and, well, I've had more attention in one week in Italy than you, my dear France, have given me in years. So goodbye, good luck and don't forget me. There will be someone new ready to fall head over heels in love with you any moment now. Not that you'll notice.