Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love: Finding Community

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who is Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love? How do he and Elizabeth meet and what is his role in the story?

Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love is one of the close friends Elizabeth meets during her time in Rome. Luca helped Elizabeth learn Italian and find her stride exploring the culture.

Read more about Luca Spaghetti, Eat Pray Love, and their friendship.

Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love Helps Liz Find Community

Gilbert wasn’t a great traveler like others she’d seen along her journeys. Those people knew how to blend in and emit a casual authority. Gilbert could do neither. She was tall, blonde, and pale, and when she was lost, she looked lost. But one thing she did well was make friends wherever she went. 

Sometimes these friendships were happenstance—a train companion or a run-in at a restaurant. But often, Gilbert orchestrated friendships by way of acquaintances of people she knew from home. Before she left for Rome, she asked her friends for a few names of people she might look up. 

Two of those people were a married couple named Maria and Giulio. Maria was American, and Giulio was from Southern Italy. The couple had Gilbert over for dinner several times, and the husband met with her separately to work on his English.  

Another friend she met in this way was Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love. Luca and Gilbert became quick friends. He spoke English and enjoyed food as much as she did. He was a tax accountant, which she thought was a strange job for him considering his easy-going manner. Likewise, Luca didn’t understand her desire to study spirituality in India. He said it didn’t match her appetite for pleasure and Italian food. 

Gilbert made other friends through different means, as well. She grew close with her language partner, Giovanni. Their conversations centered mostly on politics and philosophy, and they knew little about each other’s personal lives. But they enjoyed each other’s company. 

Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love was also instrumental in teaching Gilbert new phrases. He took her to a soccer match and translated the curse words and expressions the fans shouted. Learning Italian slang helped Gilbert feel more ingrained in the culture. It also helped her converse more intelligibly with others. This skill helped her find more pleasure with the language. Still, the pleasure she got from food was hard to beat.

Eating Her Way to Happiness

One of Gilbert’s happiest memories from Rome was finding a farm stand down the street from her studio. She purchased fresh asparagus and paired it with poached eggs, olives, goat cheese, and salmon for lunch. She took her plate to a sunny spot on the studio floor and ate every bit with her fingers. With her Italian paper and her beautiful lunch, she felt happiness oozing from every poor. Her instinct to feel guilty about doing nothing kicked in. But she brushed it off. She’d finally learned bel far niente

Food was a constant source of pleasure for Gilbert in Rome. Another friend, an American food writer living in Italy, took her to all the best restaurants in Rome. Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love introduced her to an Italian delicacy—lamb intestines. And pastries, gelato, and cappuccino were daily favorites. However, one of the most memorable meals Gilbert had was pizza in Naples. 

Finding Gratitude With Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love

Gilbert came close to understanding her word at a dinner party on Thanksgiving. The American holiday that year fell on Luca Spaghetti’s birthday, and he wanted to celebrate his 33rd year around the sun with a Thanksgiving turkey. Gilbert decided to help him with his wish. 

The party was held at a large home in the Roman countryside owned by Luca’s friends. The guests included several of Luca’s friends and two of Gilbert’s. Around the table that night, there were three languages represented: Italian, English, and Swedish. But to Gilbert’s surprise, the barriers didn’t hinder their ability to connect and feel like they belonged. 

Late in the evening, after many bottles of wine, they decided to practice the American tradition of stating what they were thankful for. Each person took their turn, becoming emotional and weeping when they spoke openly about gratitude for their lives. When it was Gilbert’s turn, she didn’t know what to say. 

What she did know was that she was grateful her word was no longer “depression.” Just a few months before, she was so entangled in the grips of despair, she wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a lovely evening like this. She still couldn’t articulate what her word was yet, but she knew it had something to do with the way the people in her life were changing her. She said how grateful she was for old friends and new friends, and how lucky she felt to know such wonderful people. It was the truth in that moment, and that was enough. 

Luca Spaghetti in Eat Pray Love: Finding Community

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" at Shortform.

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  • Why Elizabeth Gilbert needed to divorce her husband
  • How she was able to find joy again in Italy
  • How Gilbert was able to find balance with Felipe

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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