‍Heading for Rome and Then Going Home

January 16, 2018

It doesn’t matter how many times I leave my family behind, it is always a challenge.  First, I had to say farewell to my girls, Stephanie and Maggie. They returned to Washington State before New Year’s Eve. We followed up with two Skype sessions, the second of which we said our Ciao for now.

I know Maggie wants me to live in their town. We promised that we would Skype more often this year. I hope it helps.

Saying goodbye to Papa’ this holiday was harder than usual. He looks great for 93 years of age,

But his memory is going faster than I expected. I wonder where his head will be when I visit in the Summer.

My siblings, in-laws, aunts and uncles all mean so much to me. They all helped me to be the person I am today. I love spending time with them and the younger generations.

But the call of Italy is calling my name.

People always wonder how I can leave those I love behind and go off to Italy alone. It isn’t easy. Italy is a very special place for me. My heritage is in Italy. My roots are here in Italy. And I began to understand and accept who I am as I traveled through Italy in 1971 and beyond.

As I have said before, when I visit my family in Italy, I feel as though I am once again with my Nonna, my Zii, all the people of my past who were and are Italian. I recall the stories of those who traveled so far to become Americans and give their children what they considered a better life, a better future. I know what they left, and I know who they lost behind in Italy because of their choices.

It wasn’t always good for them in Italy. My bisnonna Orfelia spoke of how poor everyone was, how she began to work on the farm pulling weeds and planting at the age of 5 years old. Life was a struggle for them. They left that behind for the promise of the future in the USA.

What I see when I walk the land of their past are so many reasons for me to return here. The antiquities alone,

with the history of the Etruscans and the Romans are enough for me to study for the rest of my life. I see their descendants walking the streets of Rome today, beautiful people, strong cheekbones, strong marching legs like the regiments of the Romans possessed.

I see olive skin, dark eyes like mine and the pride of these people even as they age.

I appreciate the people of Italy. They are warm, welcoming to strangers if you are open to them and willing to respect their traditions, their way of life. And I appreciate the way they fight for what they believe is correct. It can be very inconvenient, but they strike to achieve what labor believes they deserve, just as Americans once did quite frequently. I have seen it more than once. Here is one such strike in Milano.

The emphasis on la Famiglia, the family, is quite remarkable in the 21st century. Businesses close for a few hours during the day while children and parents return home for a family meal. La passagiata, the evening family stroll, occurs all over Italy each evening. Families walk together, chat with their friends and show off the beautiful children.

Of course, I do not know what happens behind closed doors. Yet, I am inspired by what appears to be an effort to only work to live and not live to work as so many Americans do every day. I admire this ideal that persists in Italy.

The terrain of Italy is alone worth visiting and living here.

Seaside sunsets,

Grape vines on mountains in Friuli,

Or Tuscany,

The bike races,

Antique car races,

And medieval festivals,

Flag antics,

And such incredible faithfulness to the history of the disparate groups of Italians throughout the last 2+ millennia.

Half the art of the World is in Italy. I believe Italy is now the largest exporter of Wine—that means great wine is here to drink every single day if I choose. The food, oh the food, fresh, natural, mostly organic and biodynamic. Meals out are an unrushed feast. You can sit at your table for hours. You must ask for your bill, il conto.

They are so proud of their food that entire government offices are dedicated to insuring that their Parmigiano Reggiano, the Balsamic vinegar, everything is checked and graded. Even their gluten free pasta is better than what I can get in the States.

When I return to the states I can barely eat the food there anymore. Even the Italian food seems heavier, thicker. And, in Minnesota, except in summer, there is almost zero fresh fruit or vegetables. I miss the food of Italy when I am in the states.

Gli italiani fanno una bella figura sempre. Italians always strive to look good and put on a good show of how they are doing. Fantastic hair, clothing, shoes, make-up, even when jogging. I envy them when I see how put together so many of them are. I strive to be like them.

Italian cars are a work of art, from the humble Fiat, to the Ferrari and Lamborghini. Their modern architecture rivals the arts of the Renaissance and Medieval structures by the perfection of use of space and design. There is so much to see, do, and experience.

Lastly, I speak of the language. Italian is a language that is like music itself. The rhythm of it, the pronunciation of each letter, each syllable, the cadence and the hand gestures the accompany it. No wonder such beauty shines through Italian opera and even Italian popular music. Even when I do not understand it, I can listen to it all day long, the same way that music moves me. And I hear my bisnonna singing to me when I was a child.

It is my wish that each of you, Italian blood or not, can feel some of the Italian Soul I experience when in Italy. Oh, there are plenty of chaotic issues, bureaucratic frustrations, high taxes and boundary issues. Somehow, they all add to the Italian epic, like an opera of life. I hope someday you can experience this Italian soul by visiting my second country and finding it for yourself. I can help through Take Me Home Italy. Ciao ciao, Stati Uniti. I am already in Rome and being my Roman adventure.

Ciao for now!

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