Questa Dolce Vita - A Canadian Expat in Italy.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
Jasmine is a pharmacist turned blogger and professional wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy. Questa Dolce Vita is an expat in Italy blog that focuses on living in Italy, international travel, and cultural differences.
What language do they fuck each other in? Does she whisper vieni amore in that fleeting moment the French call la petit mort? Throw her head back in ecstasy, awaken a living revenant every morning on his side of the bed? She sometimes wonders these things, these irrational, stupid, immensely unimportant things. Turning them over in her head like a smooth stone held in a palm, contemplative, as if somehow the answer will change something. As if knowing will fill that empty, dark space that exists somewhere under her ribcage, wedged up against her heart. It won’t and she knows it. People talk about getting over someone as if it were a physics assignment to be completed, a household item to check off a grocery list.
Cherries. Check. Toilet paper. Check. Forget him. Check. Erase the last year. Check. What they don’t realize is you’re trying to move on without looking back and seeing the sun glint off her long black hair, her manicured hand fitting in his better than yours ever did or ever will, ever would or could ever hope to. In your rearview mirror is a perfect picture, the objects closer and farther than they might appear, the only thing that’s distorted is that you’re not in it. She loathes that girl and her perfect everything, the way the Roman alphabet rolls off her tongue with such fucking ease, the reverberating double consonants and all those other beautiful sounds that don’t exist in the English language. The sounds that are themselves pure seduction, they can’t help themselves, they pull you in. Beckoning. You are almost compelled to put your mouth on a mouth like hers. Need to know what makes those words sound so good, what it feels like. What a tongue like that could do when it’s wrapped around something other than the letter R. And so she can't blame him for leaving. He was right to want to know the answers to these questions, he was right to keep asking the questions. The perché, the why, is irrelevant. The wanting and the needing to know all those foreign tongues, this is what proponderates over the reason, over reason.
Just a public service advisory that I'm going to try to more consistent with updating the PINS section of the blog where you can find ITALIAN QUOTES (or lyrics) like the ones above, ITALY QUOTES, LIFE QUOTES, and TRAVEL QUOTES. I'm especially loving these pink graphics using Italian song lyrics that I love, they look great in Instastories so please feel free to use, just tag @questadolcevita on it! What do you guys think? Love or really love...? If you have some lyrics or quotes you think would make a great graphic or Pinterest image, send them my way!
Hello hello again, you're looking spendid my dear (nice butt by the way!). I hope that kicked your Monday off in the right way. If not, keep reading our Lunedì Love Story and it's sure to have you smiling and skipping to or from work depending on your time zone. Actually, would love to know where you are when you're reading this, leave a comment!
Today we have Sarah and Michele, an English lass and an Italian gentleman who seem to have a bit of the luck of the Irish interwoven into their love story. Michele won her over with beer and food, the sure way to any girl's heart if you ask me and then with a make-out session in the cloakroom. No wait, I think it was the safe room. Of a castle. In Italy. Italian boys should be saying a little prayer to the man up there every day for being blessed to have been born in this country and to have things like CASTLES to work with. Sheesh. God could have at least balanced things out a bit by making them ugly. But instead they got looks and castles! Read on! Where are you from and where is your significant other from? I am from Redditch, a town near Birmingham in central England, and Michele is from Montichiari in Brescia, Italy.
Where and when did you meet your significant other? Our first few meetings were actually just before I left Italy. I was nearing the end of nine months aupairing, and planning to go back to England permanently to start a “real life” there. An Italian friend who I'd met in a local Irish pub a few months earlier invited me to a brewery with his friends: one of them was this chatty, nerdy, bearded guy. We met again a couple of times but just as friends. There was definitely some interest there, but we both knew I was leaving a few days later so we made no move on it. Six months later I was moving back to Italy (having decided “real life” was overrated), and he was the first person I messaged with my decision. We were dating within a week of my return.
Who made the first move? I think it was kind of equal, plus a little help from our mutual friend. By pure chance, the day I returned to Italy was Saint Patrick's day, and we had both already planned to meet friends in our favourite Irish pub. It was absolutely packed, I was already a few drinks in, and he appeared behind me. We spent the whole night standing there talking. Our mutual friend saw us and decided to invite me to Pasquetta (an Easter Monday celebration that Italians traditionally spend with their friends), then told Michele to offer me a lift there and back. I remember as soon as I told my host-mum this, she responded with “he loves you”. I was hopeful but insisted it was just friends. I knew as soon as we got there that we weren't. He was the perfect gentleman, constantly offering to get me beer and food, and immediately taking the place next to me when we sat down to eat. He asked me out for the first date on the drive home, but I went in for the first kiss.
What was your first impression of him? I remember thinking he was very critical about everything, but this is also part of his Italian-ness – he likes to bitch! But I also saw he was intelligent and focused, two things I still really admire about him. When we started dating, I was always shocked by how completely honest he was with his emotions. I remember worrying that it was some sort of trick, because I couldn't fathom someone being so direct. But it turned out to be real, and now its one of the things that makes us work so well – you can't play language games or just drop hints in second languages, you need to be completely direct.
Dish on the first kiss. Technically it was in the car, when he dropped me off after meeting our friends at Pasquetta, but it was fairly brief since I was still super shy. The “real” one I prefer to remember was on our first date: we took the whole day out, and for part of it he gave me a private tour of Castello Bonoris in Montichiari (since he was working as a tour guide there at the time). It started with him impressing me with his English summary of the history, and ended with us making out in the safe room.
Where do you live now? I'm still on Lake Garda, and he's just starting to move in with me. We've decided that while we both have work opportunities here in Italy, we'll focus on making a life here. But he's also open to moving to England if it's ever required.
Have you learnt each other’s languages? Luckily we were both a conversational level in each other's languages from the beginning. He had learnt English at school and then through Youtube videos (which makes his accent such a strange mix of all the English speaking Youtubers he watches), and I had been living in Italy for nine months, so although my pronunciation was terrible and my vocabulary was limited, I could get by. Originally he insisted on speaking mainly English to make me feel comfortable, but now we just swap between languages depending on how we feel. I also looked back at old messages recently and realised how dramatically we've improved: its true what language teachers say, the best way to learn a language is to date a native!
Any advice to “mixed” culture couples or couples doing long-distance? We've been lucky to have only done long-distance for a few months. For the last couple of years, I returned to England for two and half months over summer. Both times were brutal, but they made us even closer when we were finally reunited, because we appreciated our daily lives together even more.
Its essential to keep talking when you're long distance, through all types of communication if possible. I remember joking that we seemed to talk even more when I was in England than when we were together, since we'd message throughout the day, have a Skype call for at least an hour, and a goodnight call (we were lucky that there's not much time difference). There also needs to be an end date to the distance, either with one of you moving, or at least a short holiday together. That way you can count down the days.
As for mixed cultures, I'd say the key thing is being open to each other's traditions, and for the native to help the foreigner integrate. My main issue living in Italy is feeling like an outsider, but Michele does everything he can to help me create my own home here and feel independent.
Bologna blew me away. Why are people not talking about Bologna? I have the sneaking suspicion that everyone is trying to keep it a secret. You hear so many names on the roll-call of places to visit in Italy but they're always the same ones. As we try to visit new places and new faces every weekend in Italy, my husband and I had the pleasure of checking out Bologna for the first time about two weekends ago. Now we're wondering why we took so long to discover this city. I know I shouldn't say things like this, like it's probably in some kind of loyalty code to the city that you've expatriated to, but I really love Bologna. I might even love it more than Bergamo, I might even love it more than Rome. I might love it more than many other Italian cities that I've been to.
Bologna is a university city and because of this fact it has an unspoken energy to it. The students, that arrive in this orange-tinted town, come from all four corners of the world and they give the city it's pizzazz. Every night feels like a party and all you have to do is spill out onto the streets to be part of it. We started our trip in the worst of ways: looking for parking. To be honest this was the worst part of our trip, we arrived on Saturday morning during the market and spent about 45 minutes looking for a spot to leave our car overnight. Almost everything near the center was paid parking and we really had no intention of spending our food money on something so frivolous. So like a good Italian, my husband refused to give up and managed to squeeze our car into an impossibly small spot in a residential area. Italians love nothing more than to screw over the system, so sorry Bologna you didn't take our money that day. We dragged our carry-on suitcase to our apartment for the weekend; we thought that we would look out of place walking so far with the trolley, but it was the perfect accessory for the city as it seemed like everyone was pulling luggage around, I suppose students coming and going for the weekend.
We were guests of L'8 Boutique Apartments, a new offering run by two sisters right in the heart of Bologna in an old palazzo that their grandmother owned. The location cannot be beat and the owners, Francesca and Federica, are so helpful and have curated each apartment to perfection mixing old and new to create an eclectic and luxurious home away from home. Our apartment was equipped with a kitchen, making it a perfect option for anyone who needs to stay in Bologna on business or longer than a weekend. My favorite space was actually the bathroom. The sisters chose to leave some of the original tiling while updating all of the finishings so you have a lovely walk in shower surrounded by fabulous vintage tiles chosen by their nonna with little purple flowers. They also gifted us two invaluable pieces of paper: the first was a walking tour highlighting all of their favorite spots in Bologna and the second was a list of restaurants, bars and other places to eat like a true Bolognese.
Word of advice: if you happen to be in the city on a Saturday, do try to make reservations for dinner the day before, we didn't do this and we ended up drinking all night instead because all the restaurants were fully booked!
After settling in and dropping off our luggage, we set out on foot to take in the city. Bologna is best known for its porticos, on a rainy day, there is no need to sit inside because you can easily walk about the whole city and shop and eat and visit without ever needing an umbrella. The portico system is extensive, Bologna is home to the longest covered walkway in the world in fact. The thing I loved best after the porticos was the color of the city, or shall I say the colors. Bologna boasts facades of all different shades of the sun: yellows and oranges and reds and beiges, bright and cheery and dull and weathered. If I could've photographed every building I would have. We wandered for the better part of the afternoon and as the sun started to set we found ourselves, unknowingly, in one of Bologna's most beautiful piazzas- Piazza San Stefano. Do yourself a favor, when you go to Bologna, accidentally stumble on this piazza as the sun is going down. It will top your list as one of the most beautiful moments you'll ever experience in Italy. I'll admit that might be slightly exaggerated, but every Italy moment I have seems to top the one before it. There is something about the light in this piazza, it's that dim, warm color of candles and it reflects off the stone of the church and the cobblestones in such a way that you can't help but stop in your tracks to take it all in. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be during the summer months when the evenings are long and the sunset is slow. We walked around the monastery in the piazza, at first as a time killer, but then with heightening enthusiasm as we became increasing enchanted by the courtyards enveloped in the darkness. We sat in one of the courtyards for a good amount of time, just completely entranced by the peacefulness and the evening.
One of the most amazing things about social media is that it allows you to connect with other expats and other Canadians who live in Italy. So Saturday evening after seeing the city by day, I was able to meet up with a fellow Canadian who has lived Bologna for the last four years and she took us on a whirlwind nighttime tour of her adopted home. The highlight was grabbing a bottle of Pignoletto from Bologna's oldest osteria: Osteria del Sole, and drinking it out in the streets because there wasn't any room inside. This place is a legend and it serves only drinks, not food, so you can bring your own of the latter! The photograph above on the right shows the exterior of the bar with the only indication of what lies within being that teeny-tiny sign saying "VINO" over the door.
The city was absolutely bustling and we bar-hopped out and drink-hopped from wine to craft beer as we learned more about our newfound friends and our love for the city continued to grow. You could stay out all night here and never get bored or hungry, or thirsty for that matter. However, we ended up calling it a night around one in the morning, having spent all day on our feet and planning to climb the mythical Torre degli Asinelli (view in the photo below) the next day.
Bologna you were some kind of beautiful, we'll be back!
Disclaimer: This is purely a post for fun and should be not taken as factual or true, it is based solely on my own personal experience and that of my friends and other English-speaking expats in Italy with Italian boyfriends/husbands. If you don’t like opinions or generalizations about other cultures, don’t read this post! Since the success of the post Why Are There So Many American Girls with Italian Boys? and all of the dialogue stemming from that topic, I’ve been itching to delve deeper into this concept. This fire is further stoked by each love story I receive and publish on a weekly basis (so many Italian/non-Italian couples out there!). In brainstorming more ideas and soliciting the help of fellow expat friends, one of them said to me,
“… there must be some underlying similarities with the Italian men who choose American women too. For example, we often joke that M is ‘Americanized’ from so many years in the USA. He was there during his formative years after all.”
That got me thinking, she’s absolutely right. In fact, of all the Italian husbands and boyfriends I’ve met, I’ve gotten along wonderfully with. I’ve maybe even thought of stealing one or two in the past, just kidding ladies! But this must mean something. It must mean that all these IHOPs have something in common with one another than makes them more attracted to and vice versa, more attractive to…non-Italians. If you’re wondering what an IHOP is, well it’s very specific and scientific terminology that I’ve spent years researching. Seeing as WAGs = wives and girlfriends, but HABs (Husbands and Boyfriends) doesn’t sound as cool, I’m going to invent “IHOPs” = Italian Husbands Or Potential ones. That's right, just like the International House of Pancakes because pancakes are delicious and so are Italian Husbands or Potential ones. In order to provide you with the most up-to-date, accurate information, I enlisted the help of five Italian men and their respective non-Italian significant others, so that's a total of TEN experienced, professional opinions coming together for this post. For thoroughness, the non-Italian women are from the following countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the USA. The Italian men are Italian.
Here is what we, the expert panel, concluded to be the top five characteristics that our Italian men have in common with each other (for the record, thoughts on the subject were gathered via Whatsapp and in person):
1. Anglo-linguistic Love: these men don’t just “get by” in English or “tolerate it”, they really, really love it to some degree. All Italians study English nowadays and many can speak it conversationally or can at the very least, survive a weekend jaunt to New York City. But our men are INTO it. They love watching TV series in the original language, trying out new slang expressions and idioms, and generally just show some increased curiosity towards English compared to their counterparts. This observation leads to the next point which is in fact, curiousness.
2.Curiousness: They say “curiosity killed the cat” (here’s one for your books dear IHOPs) but in this case, curiosity got is what got you the cat…*I’m silently laughing in my head at my dirty joke, did you get it?!*. Anyways, what’s important here is the characteristic trait of being curious. It’s actually a rarity here I’ve found, Italians do a lot of things very well – food, architecture, art, cars, fashion, and because they do so much so well, I think this makes them less curious, as if there’s not a whole lot of reason to look beyond Italy for new experiences because the best is already here. However, IHOPs with foreign women tend to be on average, more curious. This is hard to illustrate or to explain through words so here’s a clear example of the difference between a normal Italian man and one of our IHOPs:
An “exotic” Saturday night dinner choice: Normal Italian IHOP Sushi Ethiopian
City break if money wasn’t an option: Normal Italian IHOP New York City or L.A. Kuala Lumpar or Kathmandu
Ideal Honeymoon: Normal Italian IHOP Route 66, The Maldives Patagonia, African Safari
3. Slightly lesser-mammoni: So the word “mammoni” is used to describe Italian men who are intrinsically tied to their mothers, even through adulthood. Usually the description is of someone who still lives at home with their parents, despite being a professional and holding down a full-time job although can also be used for anyone that is still highly reliant on their mothers for pretty much everything. My husband is probably the mammoniest of the men that I considered in this post, but generally IHOPs with foreign girlfriends aren’t mammoni and if they were in the beginning, they probably had to change really fast. Anglo-cultures don’t really see this concept as being acceptable so for many foreigners, it’s a huge turn-off, our men are usually more independent when we meet them. This ties into the next point which has to do with experience abroad.
4. Experience abroad: Now I’m not certain if this is a chicken-egg debate, but all of our IHOPs (except one) have had an experience abroad at some point in their life whether for studying or for working. You might say “well duh, and that’s how you met them so this point isn’t valid” but keep this in mind…50% of the couples met in Italy or anyhow, NOT in the country where the Italian man in question worked or studied abroad. Which means that AFTER they had their experience abroad, they came back to Italy and happened to knock boots with a foreigner. Coincidence? I think not. 5. Determination: It’s not easy doing long distance and it’s not easy to make a mixed-culture relationship work all the time. There are communication issues, there are bureaucratic issues, there are financial issues (who is going to buy the round-trip ticket this time?)…there are so many more problems to be faced than if these IHOPs just got together with a nice Italian girl from their town. Think about how much easier their lives would be?! They probably would have friends in common, they’d probably know all the same places, the same priest, and share not just a language but a dialect as well. Which brings me to the final point that all our IHOPs have in common: they are fucking determined. They chased us even though they knew they’d be in for mountains of paperwork and visas. They Skyped every weekend, sent letters by airmail and e-mails that we’d wake up to despite the 10 hour time difference. They went the distance for us when not everyone would and that speaks volumes about the kind of men that we’re talking about here. Thanks guys, vi vogliamo bene!
Some of my favorite mixed couples are featured below, click on the photos to read their love stories.
That concludes my unofficial list of things that Italian men with non-Italian wives or girlfriends have in common with each other. I hope you liked it, related to it, or just had yourself a bit of a giggle. Please comment and let me know your thoughts.
Happy rose-tinted Monday everyone! It's ALMOST Valentine's Day and in honor of the big day that celebrates lovers and love everywhere, I have a story that I can't wait to share. Grab your morning coffee (or morning Merlot, I don't judge) and settle in for the adventure of a lifetime. Jenn of the beautiful blog jennoverstreet.com has gifted us with a story that is just too good to be true. I know I continually say that in the introductions to the featured stories in this series but they just keep getting better and better! Jenn and James were literally set up by a first-grader who thought "Mr. Overstreet" would be the perfect match for her "princess teacher". Well her matchmaking skills came through and the twosome, originally from Delaware and Pennsylvania, now call Rome home sweet home.
The Backstory: James and I currently live and teach in Rome, Italy. He has Italian ancestry, and a few years ago we traveled through Italy. I fell in love with the food, the culture, the language, the beauty. Italy has a way of grabbing your heart and captivating your soul...leaving you dreaming of it long after you’ve left. We planned a seven week trip through Italy for our honeymoon. Planning a marriage really caused me to do some soul searching, especially regarding what James and I wanted out of life - experiences, adventure, memories around the world. A few weeks before we got married, I accepted a job in Rome. A few weeks after we got married, James too accepted a job. We cancelled our honeymoon, took a leap of faith, and arrived on our one-way ticket to Italy in August.
Where are you from and where is your significant other from? James grew up in Delaware, whereas I grew up in Pennsylvania. Shortly after graduating from Penn State, I accepted a teaching job and moved to Delaware to live and teach near the beach. We ended up getting hired at the same school district at the same time, but that is only the beginning of our love story...
Where and when did you meet him? Our first interaction was, I kid you not, me showing James my pen collection. We both were teaching at summer school and he needed a colored pen and wandered into my room. Being the elementary school teacher that I am, I opened my pencil case and let him choose. Again...still not how we met, officially! I did think he was super cute though. Throughout the summer I would pass him running on the boardwalk or walking through town. I remember one time I said hi to him as we passed each other, to which I received no response. I figured he didn’t know who I was and/or wasn’t interested! Our official meeting would happen several months later, thanks to one of my first grade students. (Backstory: When I moved to Delaware, I didn’t know anyone. I lived by myself!) It was my second year of teaching, circa 2012, and I was teaching a social studies lesson on scheduling to my little firsities. I was modeling a lesson where they had to write what they did after school and with whom they did these activities. For me, everything was done by myself. This was VERY concerning to a roomful of six and seven year olds. I remember one little boy even telling me I need to get myself to the husband store!
Little did I know that behind the scenes, one first grade girl was playing matchmaker. Her mom worked at the high school, where James taught. So after school, this little girl would talk to the male teachers about her “princess teacher.” At parent teacher conferences, her mom filled me in on what was going. Her daughter was particularly interested in setting me up with a teacher named “Mr. Overstreet.” The name rang a bell, so I did what any curious millennial would do -I hopped on Facebook. Sure enough, it was the pen-borrowing, boardwalk running guy I had been crossing paths with for over a year. So I poured myself a glass of wine and sent a friend request! He accepted a few days later, and sent me a message asking if the first grade girl was in my class.
What was your first impression of him? We exchanged a few messages on Facebook, and then our numbers. We spent the whole weekend texting and decided to get together. We lived literally a half mile away from each other! James's car was in the shop for our first date, so I drove. He was teaching driver’s education at the time and I remember being so nervous I hit the curb (repeatedly) when I tried to park! After our initial hang out, we were inseparable. We actually became incredibly close friends, hanging out nearly every weekend and most weeknights! We would stay up talking about everything under the sun. There were never any games, it just felt natural.
Dish on the first kiss. I’m a hopeless romantic (which is why I love this series Jasmine does!) and our first kiss was straight out of a movie. After several weeks of hanging out, it still hadn’t happened. After a Saturday evening together, he dropped me back off at my apartment. I thought for SURE this was the night - but no! After I got into my apartment, I stood behind the closed door for a moment blissfully happy but also confused. I got a text from him a few moments later that said “Come back down quick, you forgot something!” My heart fluttered in my chest and I rushed back down the stairs. James was standing on the sidewalk with a smile on his face. It started to gently rain. In one of my more courageous acts, I walked up to him, threw my arms around his neck and kissed him! It was literally perfect.
How did you know it was LOVE? I think my heart knew it was love before my mind did. I truly believe our souls were meant to be together. I wasn’t looking for love, it found me. They say when you know, you know. I couldn’t agree more. I remember just being out with a group of friends, looking at him across the room smiling and laughing and thinking to myself, “I love this man so much.”
What's the one thing you love most about your significant other? I don’t think I could list just one thing I love about James! I love everything about him. His heart, his playfulness, how genuine he is, his positive attitude...the list goes on. He has truly blessed me with a lifetime of adventures.
How did he propose? It was the last night of summer before we returned to work. It was a perfect August evening, but I was feeling pretty mellow about returning to work. We were walking along the canal as the sun was about to set, with a plan to grab some ice cream - a fairly normal summer evening for us. James asked if I wanted to sit on a bench for a little (I didn’t, I wanted ice cream) but I obliged. We sat there recounting our favorite memories of the summer of 2016. Next thing I know, James was down on one knee, telling me how much he loved me and asking me to be his wife. Cue the tears.
Best part about being married? I just love doing life with my best friend. Does it really get better than that?!
Below you'll find an audio file to listen to my reading of this letter. I hope it adds a personal touch to this piece.
You were like the captain of the football team, such a stereotypical choice that I wanted to avoid making. I had to avoid making. It’s almost shameful to utter the words “I fell in love with Italy” however, I suppose I should have considered that I used to be a cheerleader and therefore you were my inescapable fate from the start. I’ll come right out and say that it was lust at first sight and not love. It was not love for a long time because of your beauty. Captivating, impossible to ignore or deny. That summer, I was in awe of you. You made me marvel before I knew the word. You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Wide-eyed, I took to your cobblestone streets, negotiating the path of Gods and lesser gods in high-heels and dodging glances from your entourage, dark-eyed and tempting. But it wasn’t them I was looking at, nor the men nor the women. Seductive as they are, I couldn’t take my eyes off you and you alone.
You have that kind of hold on people, and dare I say it, on virgins especially. First-timers. Yet the more I came to you, entranced and enthralled, the more I realized that amongst your beauty there were ruins. I began to see your faults because we all have them. Not even you are perfect, actually, you are the farthest thing from perfection. You hide behind this façade of slow dinners out in the piazza at twilight, the laughter of friends over clinking glasses filled to the brim with Aperol, prosecco, soda water and ice, the cypress-lined drives in the Tuscan countryside, a wake of white dust following a red 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a silent prayer after wine-fueled nights of passion in a language created for courtship and opera.
Your façade is literally in the façade of buildings that not only house history but are history themselves. You seduce easily, using all these things as part of your armory, but you let only a select few in. I get it. I’ve done it too. It’s a self-preservation thing. So many have thought they loved you until they saw the you without makeup in the morning, with fluorescent lighting after a sleepless night when nothing is going right and everything in the world is wrong. Full of secrets and corruption, of bureaucratic failures and few everyday successes. You like to dwell on the past, your past conquests, your past glories. You live in the past, but this isn’t high school anymore and it’s like everyone grew up around you. You’re vain as well. Sometimes too arrogant to admit your faults but depending on the day, you’re self-deprecating at the same time, quick to react and slow to change.
The others, they want only the beauty without the beast. But Italy, my dearest, you are both. A paradox of sorts and a riddle that can never be solved. And only a handful of us are content with an unsolved riddle, with getting lost in it and with losing ourselves in it. Some people might say that a love like ours is destructive. I say it’s the only kind to live for. Where I am so entwined and tangled up in you that I can’t discern where you start and I end up. To live with you is to be you and to know that on some days, there are ruins in our beauty and that on others, there is beauty in the ruins. You’ve taught me not only about love but of life. I left behind so much for you, sacrificed everything that I thought of as sacred before you came along. But in you, I finally found what is sacred: slow dinners out in the piazza, twilight, the laughter of friends, the cypress-lined drives, Tuscan countryside, a wake of white dust, a red Alfa Romeo, wine-fueled nights, a language, courtship, opera, and most of all and in it all, passion.
As February is the month of love and Saint Valentine, we thought what better than to write a love letter to our beloved Italia!
What do you love about Italy? What's your relationship with the country? Does it make you fall head over heels one minute and frustrate you the next? Tell us how you feel. As always feel free to interpret this theme as you wish...An idea could be to write it to Italy as a person, starting with "Dear Italy...", for example.
Take it as a chance to express your love ❤️ for il bel paese. Maybe the love is unrequited, maybe it's been a lifelong affair, maybe you took a "break" but you wanna get back together, maybe she's caused you so much heartache that you have to walk away, whatever it is, we want to know why you love or have loved Italy.
We can't wait to read your letters!
The linky will be open from February 7th and you will have one week to submit your own posts and a full month to read and share everyone's stories. We will obviously share and comment on them all as well!
Please fill in our form here where you can tell us what topics you'd like to see and how you prefer the Linky to be run! This is all so we can create a wonderful Italophile community! Talk to us!
Febbraio: Una Lettera D'Amore
Poiché febbraio è il mese dell'amore e di San Valentino, abbiamo pensato... che cosa c'e' di meglio che scrivere una lettera d'amore alla nostra amata Italia?
Cosa amate dell'Italia? Qual è il vostro rapporto con il Bel Paese? Vi fa innamomare un minuto e vi frustra un istante dopo? Diteci come vi sentite? Come sempre sentievi liberi/e di interpretare questo tema come desiderate ...
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It's Monday again and that means welcome back to the blog and to our Lunedì Love Story. I'm pleased to introduce a fellow blogger, Rebecca of the wonderful La Brutta Figura ("brutta figura" in Italian, is closest to the English concept of "making a bad impression" and let's be honest, we've all made a few of those as foreigners in Italy!). A meeting of stereotypes if there ever was such a thing: she's a gorgeous Scot with a porcelain complexion and a cascade of red-hair that is right out of a fairy tale while he's a swoon-worthy, dark-haired, aviator-Ray-Ban-wearing Venetian. I absolutely LOVE how this couple looks together and can already imagine how adorable half-Scottish, half-Italian babies would be! Am I getting ahead of myself?! Read on lovers.
Where are you from and where is your significant other from? I'm from Edinburgh, Scotland, and my boyfriend is from a tiny town called Ariano nel Polesine in the Veneto, right on the border with Emilia-Romagna.
Where and when did you meet your significant other? Three years ago, I moved to Italy to work and live in a new English School (incidentally, living in a school is not recommended!) in the Veneto. I was the only teacher along with an Italian secretary and the owner of the school. During my first week, we held the inauguration party at which I was obliged to make a speech in Italian (utterly terrifying). Afterwards the secretary invited me for a much-needed drink with her Italian friend and my soon-to-be student. I remember only a few distinct details from that evening which were that the student in question, Leonardo, had an enormous beard which he'd grown for his sixth annual visit to Oktoberfest, that I laughed till my stomach hurt, and that I learnt about some story of monsters in a nearby river which he now refuses to believe he told me about. Who made the first move? His version of the story is that I only became interested in him when he changed car from a Fiat Uno to an open top two-seater Mercedes. The real story is a gradual blossoming interest due to after-lesson drinks and dinners. One in particular stands out as Leonardo plied me with mojitos and then somehow convinced me to play piano in a bar with some old men. The morning after 4-hour lesson with nursery children was far from fun.
What was your first impression of him? Generous. I know now that Italian men feel they can never let a woman pay but Leonardo takes it to a new level. In the first year I don't think I managed to pay once, though I used to leave bank notes hidden around his car.
He was also very funny and entertaining, partly because of what he talked about but also a little bit for his fantastic English slip ups! He'll hate me for writing this but on his first meeting with my parents he decided he should call my Mum 'ma'am' (he originally learnt English from watching a lot of American films), but unfortunately due to his pronunciation it sounded like 'mum'. After a little while I asked him if he thought his choice of address was perhaps a little premature...!
Dish on the first kiss. After an exhilarating late-night ride in the Mercedes I was about to go back into the school where I lived at the time when he grabbed my hand and kissed me against the car. Perhaps he is half right then that the car assisted in our love story...
Where do you live now? We live in a town called Adria in the Veneto, near to his hometown where he works. It's not a big place with lots of things to do, but on the plus side I've never paid more than 3 euros for a spritz!
Have you learnt each other’s languages? Yes, even a bit of his dialect to his dismay as he can no longer have secret jokes with his friends. His favourite line when I didn't understand used to be 'ti spiego dopo', I'll explain later, which his friends naturally found hilarious. Now, whenever I understand and tell him he's an idiot, his friends find that hilarious. Sometimes I feel like we're a comedy duo.
Any advice to “mixed” culture couples or couples doing long-distance? For mixed culture couples I think it's really important to learn and practice both cultures. Obviously as I live in Italy we do many key Italian cultural things like aperitivi and drinking wine, but he's great at trying out my traditions too. He absolutely loved the Highland Games we watched in Scotland and he's got a weird obsession with black pudding - we do some interesting Scottish-Italian fusion dishes!
Luggage-less, I walked up to the sliding doors and blinked as I felt the sudden whoosh of air against my face. When I opened them again, I was standing in front of this familiar stranger. A face and a smile that I knew from a different world, when our surroundings were my comfort zone and the language was my own. I kissed him, which is always a bold move after you’ve been travelling for over 14 hours but seems almost obligatory at airport arrivals, if not for yourself, then to add to the romance of it all for everyone else. He tasted like beer, I remember it distinctly. Poor thing had been waiting for over an hour past my estimated arrival and he ended up passing the time by drinking. I still have the hunch that it was also partly to calm his nerves because if they were like mine, they were probably off the charts. My heart was beating out of my chest, the kind of beating where you become sub-conscious that the people around you can actually hear it. Unless you have been in my position, one-half of a long-distance relationship, it’s hard to describe the sensation of being in the presence of a person whose pixelated face you know like the back of your hand but that is completely foreign in flesh and blood. Our relationship the last few months was entirely reliant on Skype and emails and in this way, you form an exceptionally deep emotional connection but face-to-face, I could feel a disconnect between the physical and emotional. I needed to bridge that disconnect immediately, so I took my shaking hand and gripped his, and together we walked out of the airport and into the Italian night. It seems bizarre, but it felt like coming home. When I finally pulled back the covers to sleep that night, there was a handwritten note from him on the pillow: Benvenuta a casa piccola. Welcome home little one.
This piece was inspired by true events. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Important Note: A note on this category "Creative Writing". Writing has always been a love of mine and is one of the main reasons I started to blog in the first place, basically to have a reason to write. At times, I feel like I need to be able to indulge in some creative writing in addition to the informative content I provide about expat life and all things Italy and Italian. So every once in awhile for now on, you may see some short pieces pop up with the header of Creative Writing. Just know they are my little experiments and that they should be considered fiction unless otherwise stated, although as is the case for most writers, inspired in some ways by my own experiences. Thanks for reading.