March 22, 2016
For the past week I have been traveling—not in Italy, but with family. The prior week I spent with family here in Minnesota. These two weeks have gotten me thinking about what family, la Famiglia, is all about.
Mia Figlia e mia nipote, my daughter and granddaughter (Stephanie and Magnolia, repectively) flew to Los Angeles from Washington. Steph was there on business giving me the opportunity to spend time with Magnolia.
Mags and I stayed with my godson, mio figlioccio, Jim, his wife Kory, and their son J.T. His mother Maureen was with us most of the time too.
When I am with these people I feel surrounded by warmth, love and acceptance. They are a huge part of my family but we all live in different places. When we get together now, we treasure every moment, remember all that happens and share our feelings openly.
The only time I have similar feelings is when I am in Italy. Italy is like my long lost Bisnonna, Great-Grandmother, greeting me with open arms and cooking my favorites. The beautiful dishes are out and I hear Italian spoken.
Italy is like that. You will see the love of family displayed everywhere. And sometimes they will invite you into their family and make you feel it too.
Even if that does not happen, you are walking in the back yards of the Italians. They surround you as you stroll along their streets and waterways, as you enjoy the art everywhere, the architecture of the Italian family life. It is like a warm hug from Italy.
When you visit a museum, you see the splendor of all the talented Italians of the past, the ancestors of these people. Italians today treasure beauty and art as did those who have gone before them. Now you see it in the clothing and footwear they design and just how well they wear them. You sense it as they pass you and the scent of Italian perfume tickles your nose. You feel it in the soft, sensual leather goods you can purchase—especially in Florence. You see it in their sculpture where they have captured softness within the stone. All of it is part of la Famiglia d’italia, the Italian family.
Another part of the Italian people is similar to what I experienced two weeks ago. When my father and I visited family and friends at both a nursing home and a funeral, we experienced those events as Italians. We Italians are sentimental, family-oriented people. We love our older family members and want to include them in our lives as they age. We spend time with them even when they don’t seem fully aware of what is going on. We know they can feel our affection. And when they pass, we gather to grieve and remember them with honor.
Italians in Italy take care of their elders. They rarely put them in homes. Their children and grandchildren listen to their stories as they want to remember everything about them. The country has lived with death and destruction as well as fantastic beauty and well-being. Because of that, I believe Italians in general understand the cycle of life and death better than many Americans do.
When you travel in Italy you can see this demonstrated in La Passagiatta, the evening family stroll. The ancient family members walk with their grandchildren and children as a family. You see it in the deference all young Italians pay to older people in general, even tourists!
There is a warm and sense of understanding you find within many Italians. They do believe in la dolce vita, the sweet life, and live it well. Yet they understand that sweetness needs a sour counterbalance to be fully appreciated. That is Italian life. That is all life—they just accept it better than most and, therefore, experience life so intensely. I feel all of it every time I visit Italy, my heart’s home.
You can experience it all when you visit Italy. They are waiting for you. Bring an open mind and open heart. Take a slower than American pace and experience the moment with Italy. You will treasure each moment with total recall and fulfilment.
Ciao for now!
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