From Italy and Back

My book, “From Italy and Back: Coming Full Circle” has been available on Amazon now for two weeks and the paperback is beginning to sell. The Amazon link is: http://www.amazon/dp/0988975734.

And the book’s website is also up and running. It is: http://www.fromitalyandback.com. Please have a look at both and let me know what you think. If anyone would like to write a review I will be happy to send you a copy of the book.

Thanks for looking.

 

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From Italy and Back: Coming Full Circle

I have certainly been waiting a long time for my new book to be ready and go to print. Finally, we are there. I expect to have copies in my hand very soon. And soon you will be seeing a lot more about the book and hearing from me regarding reactions and marketing going forward. I am pleased with the way it has turned out and I am looking forward to see how it will be received. It is my hope that my story will ignite a passion in many others to research their roots and find out more about their heritage. It has been a remarkable journey for me and it is so worthwhile to find out more about where we came from and the importance of our ancestral history to who we are today. If my book sparks an interest in just a few, I will be happy.

To spark your interest in what will follow, I am posting the Introduction to the book here. The book is in three parts: Childhood Memories; Travels in Italy: Our Connection to the Country of Our Ancestors. I hope you like it.

INTRODUCTION

I was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and most of my childhood was spent in Yonkers, New York. My mother was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and my father was born in the Bronx, New York. My grandparents—on both my mother and father’s side—spent the early part of their lives in the south of Italy—in Molise and Puglia. I love New York and I love America. And I love Italy—the country of my ancestors. As my life has progressed (now that I have lived three quarters of a century) I appreciate my Italian heritage more and more every day. My numerous trips to the country my ancestors left many years ago have doubtless contributed to that appreciation. In 2012 I became an Italian citizen after my husband, my daughter, and I applied for citizenship. We each have two passports—American and Italian. I like to think my Italian passport somehow elevates my connection to my rich and vibrant heritage.

Both sets of my grandparents came to America at the beginning of the last century—more than 100 years ago. They left their homeland searching for a better life in America, and con- sequently they created a better life for me and for the rest of my family. Generally, life is quite different today in Italy than it was for them when they immigrated to the United States, but the cultural warmth and beauty of the land is still there in abundance. I have visited many of Italy’s beautiful cities, provinces, and regions over the years and I feel that I know the country to some degree. The food, the wine, the people, the art, the history, the countryside, the sea, the lakes—who can argue that it is the BEST—especially the food, the wine and the PEOPLE!

My husband Alan and I agree that our Italian heritage plays an intrinsic role in our individual lives and in our life together. We feel a powerful pull toward the country of our ancestors. Nowadays many people are drawn to Ancestry.com and other Internet sites to begin researching their heritage and studying their DNA. Knowledge of one’s genetic history and genealogy is very compelling, and we have fully embraced it. I have not had my DNA analyzed as of yet since I believe I know what it will tell me—i.e., that my roots are all from southern Europe.

My purpose here is to convey what it was like growing up in the 1940s and 1950s in an Italian-American family—a close and loving extended family—and how that contributed so much to who I am today. I also want to recreate and reminisce about some of the memorable experiences I enjoyed while traveling in Italy, which undoubtedly enhanced my love of this beautiful country.

Alan’s grandfather, Giuseppe Votta, was born in Venafro, Italy, which is in the same region of Molise, where my paternal grandparents were born. Alan was able to apply for his Italian passport through his grandfather’s lineage. Giuseppe Votta immigrated to Scotland and married there before finally settling in Yonkers, New York. Alan’s heritage is mixed with Austrian, Scotch, and Hungarian thrown in there. His childhood was different than mine because of the multi-cultural influences on his life, not only Italian like mine.

The process of applying for Italian citizenship was indeed a fascinating endeavor with its many ups and downs, comical holdups, and overall frustrations, but the final outcome has been so worthwhile.

This is not a travel book. Although I have described many magnificent and beautiful spots in the country I love, it is not my intent to entice anyone to take a trip. It is, however, a testament to how much our cultural heritage impacts our lives and how I have embraced it fully.

Everyone loves Italy—no matter what one’s ethnic back- ground. And Italy is generally the trip of a lifetime for any traveler. For me, Italy represents so much more. It is what makes me, ME.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think and I will be sure to let you know just as soon as the book is released.

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Next Steps

Wow! Has it really been more than three years since I posted something on this blog? Yes, it has. And the last time I posted I mentioned that I was getting ready to publish my second book. Did that ever happen? Well, no–not yet. However, I am ready now. The title has changed and the content has changed somewhat and we are almost ready to go to print. The new title is “From Italy and Back: Coming Full Circle.” It will be available on Amazon in paperback and E-Book as was my first book “Reunited.” The book is in three parts; i.e. Childhood Memories, Travels in Italy, and Our Connection to the Country of Our Ancestors. The book includes many photos from my childhood growing up in an Italian-American household as well as photos of relatives. The book also describes our efforts in the process of becoming Italian citizens and getting our Italian passports, with some information about how to go about securing dual citizenship. It is my hope that family, friends, other Italian-Americans, and the general public find something in my book that excites their psyches and ignites their interest in their heritage and ancestry. It was a wonderful journey for me.

Another next step is publishing a revised edition of “Reunited: When the Past Becomes a Present.” Those of you who have read the book know that there was one connection that Alan and I were still hoping to make. That connection did happen and we are over the moon about it. Alan reconnected with his daughter, Cheryl, over two years ago and a loving relationship with Cheryl, Gary her husband, and Nicholas their son, has made us all very happy. The revision with that information will happen soon after “From Italy and Back” is published. You can now purchase the first edition of “Reunited” through this blog.

Here is a sneak peak of the cover of my new book.

From Italy & Back Comps 5-2

 

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New Book

It has been way too long since my last post. And I had such high hopes of finishing this new book by this summer! Not there yet–by any means. So much has occupied my mind and time that I have had little energy to get to my writing. I have started, however, and I have an introduction to share. I am still not sure of a title. I started with “Ciao Italia–Our Love Affair with Italy” and have now changed it to “Coming Full Circle–From Italy and Back.” I have no idea at this point what I will end up with. The book is about 1) my Italian heritage and what that means to me; 2) my many trips to Italy; and 3) the process of becoming Italian citizens and our hope of living there one day. I have dedicated the book to our grandparents–who came to America for a better life and consequently left us with the desire to return to the land of our ancestors. Thus the “Coming Full Circle” title. I would appreciate your thoughts on that once you read the Intro. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

INTRODUCTION

It is my fondest desire and wildest dream to live in Italy—at least for an extended period of time, for six months to a year—not just to take another trip to the country of my ancestors. I am 72 years old. I better get to it!

My grandparents (both sets) came to America at the beginning of the last century—more than 100 years ago. Now I want to experience the country they left so long ago, in an intimate way—that only living there can provide. Naturally, life is quite different today than it was for them when they emigrated to the United States, but the cultural warmth and beauty of the land is still there in abundance. I have traveled to Italy several times and I have wonderful memories of those trips, but today I wish to experience more. My daughter has both lived and worked in Italy for more than two years. Now it’s my turn.

This is my second book. When I published my first book, “Reunited: When the Past Becomes a Present” (the story of my reconnecting with my high school sweetheart after fifty years), I realized that there was more to tell about our story and how our love of Italy figured into the equation. Not only have Alan and I united our lives in marriage, we reignited a feeling within both of us about our Italian heritage. Together we became aware that there was a powerful pull toward that heritage and that we both desired to make Italy a more prominent part of our lives. I touched upon these sentiments in my first book with a chapter about our connection to Italy and happily and proudly included a piece my daughter wrote after a trip we took together searching for my father’s roots in Montelongo, Italy, in 2002.

My intent at this point is to give a more extensive and detailed look at all of the memorable experiences I have enjoyed while traveling in Italy. I also want to point out how being Italian American has figured so strongly in my life, in my family’s lives, and in my husband, Alan’s life, too. As a matter of fact, prior to our reconnecting, Alan had begun to embark on the task of searching for his Italian roots and planning his own trip to the country of his heritage. Alan is one quarter Italian—the important part!—through his paternal grandfather, Guiseppi Votta. As a couple, we discovered how our Italian heritage began to play such an integral and substantial part in our lives.

This book is an attempt to, first of all, share some of my earliest memories of my maternal grandparents; then to share the many delightful and meaningful moments I have enjoyed in Italy on my own, and those Alan and I have enjoyed together during our travels to Italy; and ultimately to give you a loving picture of our rich heritage. I hope that I am able to convey the beauty in and love of a culture that is so significant to us in so many ways.

I made my first trip to Italy in 1967 as a 23-year-old schoolteacher on a European tour to nine countries. It all became magical for many reasons, but the most momentous part of the trip for me, at least, was meeting my grandfather’s sister, Amalia Marano, and her family in Torino, Italy, and spending two unforgettable days with my newfound relatives. That experience was the start of a relationship that has been most important to all of my family.

After that first trip I did not return to Italy for twenty-two years, although I traveled extensively around the world to many other places during that time. My next trip to Italy was in 1989 with my then thirteen year old daughter, Leigh. My first husband (and my children’s father) and I weren’t very religious and we chose instead to give our children a sort of rite-of-passage trip rather than any sacramental acknowledgment of coming-of-age. My husband took my son on a trip to Africa when he turned thirteen and I chose to take our daughter, Leigh, to Italy the following year when it was her turn. It was an awesome trip and I knew that Leigh enjoyed it, but it took many years for both of us to understand just how influential it would become to her life much later.

I have started my story by attempting to show how much I love being of Italian descent, and then to relay some highlights of my trips to Italy. I’ve also described the arduous task and interesting path of becoming Italian citizens, and how both my daughter, Leigh, and my Italian cousin, Piera Fogliato, have influenced our Italian experience so much.

My husband, Alan, painstakingly and lovingly kept a diary of our trips to Italy, which have helped greatly to keep those memories alive. I have included many of his entries exactly as he originally penned them.

This is not a travel book. Although I have described many magnificent and beautiful spots in the country I love; it is not my intent to entice anyone to take a trip. It is, however, a testament to how much our cultural heritage impacts our lives and how I have embraced it fully.

Everyone loves Italy—no matter what one’s ethnic background. And it is usually a trip of a lifetime for any traveler. For me, it is so much more. It is what makes me ME.

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New Book–“Ciao Italia”

IMAG0034      I am finally at it. I am working diligently on my next book. It seems that I am following the same pattern that I followed with my first book, “Reunited: When the Past Becomes a Present.” My pattern is that I start with a general outline, get an Intro written, add a general framework and leave it all for six months or more. When I finally get back to it, I return with a vengeance, and that’s what I have done this time around. I am trying to work daily with a proposed release date for July 2015. However, this time around–I’ve been there before and I know what it takes to get it all done, and I will try my ultimate best to reach my goal. (See previous blogs, “The Journey to Publication–Parts I and II.”)

This new book will be entitled, “Ciao Italia–Our Love Affair With Italy.” It is about our attachment to our heritage, our visits to Italy, growing up Italian, what it means to us to be Italian citizens, and what it took to get there. It is fun. We love Italy and everything about it and we love being Italian-American. I am hoping that all of our experience will resonate with others and give others a pleasant read.

We have had such wonderful times while in Italy together and I made several memorable trips to Italy prior to our coming together again. I think that all of that will have an impact on my readers. Puglia, in the south of Italy, on the Adriatic, is the area where we hope to spend considerable time in the future.

IMAG0023         Look for more updates as time goes on.

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Christmas in Florida

It’s a few days before Christmas and we are just getting into the Christmas spirit. Some folks who are Florida transplants from up north can’t ever get into anything about Christmas down here, but I find it kind of fun. It IS different when you are used to cold weather, snow, and the type of holiday decorating we grew up with. But being in Florida offers something different and just as nice–to me anyway. 

So Merry Christmas to all and a very Happy New Year. Let’s hope that 2015 is a year filled with love, good friends, good cheer, and happy memories for all.

We wish you a very merry!!!!!!
Christmas 2014

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A Happening in Torino

Yesterday was an amazing amazing Thanksgiving–not because of the spectacular weather day it turned out to be in Sarasota, FL,; not because of the wonderful friends who enjoyed the day with us; and not because of the scrumptious meal I created (if I do say so myself!)–but because of the scenario that was simultaneously playing itself out in Torino, Italy.

Le me explain. On Tuesday my Facebook friend, Brandy Burre (actress extraordinaire and a lead in the hit TV series “The Wire” a few years back and currently the star in the highly acclaimed documentary “Actress”) posted on Facebook that she was in Torino, Italy, for the Italian screening of the film that she and director Robert Greene created. So, why do you ask, does this have anything to do with me at all? Well, for two reasons.

Brandy and I became FB friends last April when Brandy and her boyfriend, Chris Bowen, came to Sarasota for the screening of the film at the Sarasota Film Festival. Alan and I have served as volunteer drivers at the festival for two years and I was assigned to pick up Brandy and Chris at the airport. At the time, I didn’t know who Brandy was (not having been a devotee of “The Wire”), and was simply told that she ‘was famous.’ So the night prior to the pickup I did my homework and found out just who Brandy Burre was and what this movie was all about. And I also learned that she was on Facebook too. I brazenly asked her to be my friend! She immediately accepted and the next day when I brandished my little sign ‘Brandy Burre’ at the airport, she said, “Are you my new Facebook friend?” And thus began a whirlwind few days of driving her around Sarasota, film screenings, a new friendship, and fun. After they departed Sarasota we stayed in touch and even tried to get together when the film screened at the Nantucket Film Festival while we were on Martha’s Vineyard.

Italy and particularly, Torino, Italy, have a special meaning for us. Alan and I have dual citizenship and have become Italian citizens. We would love to be able to live there at some point. My very special Italian cousin, Piera, lives in Torino, and we have spent many wonderful days with Piera in Torino and elsewhere in Italy. Piera is very important to all of her American cousins–my extended family.

I knew when I read that Brandy was in Torino that I had to do something to make Piera aware of it and see if I could make a meeting happen. I wrote a few comments to Brandy on her post: Brandy and Chris, you are in Torino!!!!! I am going to tell my cousin Piera to see the movie. And Brandy responded: Please do. I would love to meet them.

And, of course, I immediately sent an email to Piera: Piera, I’ve just learned that an American movie is playing at Cinema Reposi in Torino. It is called “Actress.” We saw this movie in Sarasota last spring at the Sarasota Film Festival. Brandy Burre is the actress and she was a lead in the television series called “The Wire” a few years back. Alan and I became friends with Brandy when they were here. Both Brandy and her boyfriend, Chris Bowen, are in Torino  now for the showing of the movie!!! I wrote a message to her on Facebook to tell her that my cousin lived in Torino. If there is any way for you to see the film, I hope you do. And definitely talk to Brandy and tell her you are my cousin!!!!! Yay!!!! I’ll write again soon. Annie

After several messages back and forth between Brandy and me and also between Piera and me, while getting the day and time correct for the screening, I was hoping upon hope that a meeting would take place and that Piera could see the film. All of this would be happening on Thanksgiving Day. So in the midst of cooking and preparing our Thanksgiving feast and watching the clock and wondering what might be transpiring in Torino, I was delighted to finally receive this email at 12:04 pm (our time) from Piera: Mission……accomplished!!! Brandy and I met today at 2 pm! She was waiting for me outside the cinema, together with Chris, at the end of the screening. It began at 12:00. I got there a little late but I could see most of it. It is a very good movie. I thought that it could be her true story. I liked it and so did a couple of friends of mine there who went to see it too. It’s a kind of move shot in a ‘direct’ way, natural, not done in studios–what we call in Italy ‘realistic’ movies. Very award in the style. She is a very good actress, she acts natural. I told her. It has been so nice to meet; she’s so pretty and natural; I like her so much. She told me how she met you at another film festival in Sarasota. I left her my name, email address, and mobile phone number, telling her she now has a reference here in Torino. She told me to activate the contact with her on Facebook. By the way, I just sent you a request of ‘friendship’ to YOU! Annie, you are always such a lively person, a volcano of energy! Thank you for letting me meet such a nice person. Love to you and Alan! Greetings from 32 TFF–Torino Film Festival. Ciaoooooo!!!! Piera

Don’t you just love how Piera expresses herself in English? You should hear her in Italian! She doesn’t stop! She’s the energetic one. I never quite thought of myself as a volcano of energy–but I’ll take it. We have so much fun with her. I could only anticipate that what I was hoping would occur would be a special meeting between two rather unique individuals. And from a continent away–thanks to social media and the wonders of Facebook–I made it happen! Score one again for Facebook!

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