Recently a friend commented to me that we live in "paradise." Well, not exactly. But it is nice. Our gated community sports tidy green golf courses, leafy green trees, carefully tended flower beds, four swimming pools (with adjoining spas), and tennis courts. Inside the three clubhouses, you'll find two exercise rooms, two theatres, four restaurants, a dance studio, club rooms (some with kitchens attached), a well-stocked library, even a branch post office.
On the other hand, Hawaii is often called "paradise,"and I'd have to say I'd put the island of Maui on the top of any list of mine. Blue skies, balmy breezes, sandy beaches, the aroma of flowers. What's not to like? After twenty years of owning a condo there, I still think fondly of it. Or maybe that's just me.
Do we live in a place because we love it or do we love it because we live there?
I'm sure that residents of other countries feel the same way about their surroundings. I've had the good fortune to travel to a few other countries, and, if I had to choose a place to live outside the U.S., I think it might be Lake Como in Italy.
In my newest romance novel ROMAN HOLIDAY, my character goes there and is as delighted with what she sees as I was when I visited. Apparently Europeans have made it a travel destination for thousands of years, and George Clooney owns a villa on the lake. Need I say more?
However, if you go to Lake Como, be sure to visit the rest of Italy too. The people are friendly (most speak English), the food is great and history surrounds you. Sometimes people say, "See Rome and die," (The original proverb was "See Naples and die" but that was in the 13th century.), because supposedly nothing after that can equal it. And it's almost true today. Besides many modern buildings, you can still see evidence of ancient churches and the Roman Forum and stand in the center of the Colosseum, which was built before Christ. In Florence you can look upon Michaelangelo's staue of David, or climb the 294 steps to the top of the Leaning Tower in Pisa (if you're young and fearless). And Venice has a sight you will see nowhere else in the world: canals instead of streets.
So I'm a great believer in leaving home from time to time to see the rest of the world. If nothing else, it gives writers a marvelous backdrop for their stories.