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.
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.