Today, I was reading something I wrote a few years ago for a piece on “Being Italian” and I felt it was a good piece to share on this beautiful California day….when I’m dreaming of Italy!!
Italy has always been in my heart, only I didn’t realize it until I had my own children. I was raised by Italian immigrant parents who came to the US in the late 50’s. Back then, it was important to assimilate into your new culture. But both my parents had the good sense to teach me to speak Italian (in fact, I learned Italian before I learned English) and to continue speaking it to me throughout my life. As my relatives in Italy tell me, I am lucky because I never had to learn to speak a language – it was always there for me!
In so many ways, I am a true combination of American and Italian – and not really totally one or the other. Sometimes this is a bit unsettling because I feel I don’t really fit in with any one culture. My actions and decisions are based on my intuition which results from being exposed to both cultures throughout my life. But I feel that I have been blessed with the best of both worlds. My inner Italian is evident in so many aspects of my life from cooking to interpersonal relationships. I almost always cook in an Italian tradition – using fresh ingredients and creating simple, yet tasty meals. I enjoy sitting around the dinner table, long after the meal is over, to talk to my family or guests and to catch up on the happenings of the day. Whenever I hear a traditional Italian song, I am instantly happy and want to start dancing and singing to it. I love Italian home decor with its brightly hand decorated ceramics. To my eyes, there is nothing more perfect than seeing an Italian landscape – every part of Italy is beautiful. And it’s funny, I also have an inner Italian that worries like every good Italian “mamma” does about their children – are they eating enough? Are they sleeping well? Did they arrive home safely?
I can honestly say that when I am in Italy, I am at home. Italy is in my core and in my heart.