Dolce Vita Bloggers: The Italian Connection
I’m so excited to be taking part in the Dolce Vita Bloggers Monthly Link Up hosted by Kelly of Italian At Heart, Jasmine of Questa Dolce Vita and Kristie of Mamma Prada. This is a great opportunity for bloggers to share their thoughts on Italian culture and for readers (and bloggers) to meet other new and interesting people!
This month, which happens to be the first, is about “Italian Connection”. I look forward to doing many more and I suggest you check out the other writers who are also contributing to this great initiative! If you want to participate, click on the badge above!
Here we go….
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this pull to Italy that I could never quite put into words.
My father was born in a small town called Carpanzno in the province of Cosenza nestled 600 metres above the sea level in the Calabrian region of southern Italy.
Like many, he was in search of “the dream” and spent most of his teenage years dreaming of the day he would leave Carpanzano and move to a new life in Canada. When he was 17, his dream became a reality.
But, even though he moved to the other side of the world, he always kept his traditions and pride for his birthplace close to him.
So, as you can see, my connection to Italy is, without a doubt, my dad’s origins. But, to me, a connection is so much more than just associating a person with a place. A connection is also a feeling, a pull, an inexplicable force that becomes a part of who you are.
When I was 18 months old, my parents and I went to Carpanzano. It was my first time in Italy and would be the first and only time I would meet my nonno.
He was very ill and he passed the following year. I don’t remember much from that trip but I remember the stories – stories about how I, the child who couldn’t be with anyone but my mom, was perfectly happy just sitting on my nonno’s lap.
Or how I would run down the steep street in front of my father’s childhood home, giving everyone a big scare, worried that I’d trip over my little legs and go rolling down the hill.
I truly believe that it was that trip that left its imprint on me. That moment in my life would have the biggest impact on my future – and I had no idea at the time just how important it would actually be.
As I grew up, my connection to my Italian heritage flourished through so many aspects of my life – from our family traditions to our home in a predominantly Italian neighbourhood.
In the early years of my life, I grew up hearing the dialect of my father’s town and although I didn’t understand it or speak it, it was normal to me, it was the sound of my home!
And I remember getting excited when my dad called our family in Italy. I would sit curled up next to him and hear the voices of the loved ones who were still in Carpanzano. I still didn’t know enough to understand my family, but my father would translate and help me communicate with them.
Then tragedy struck our family, my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and just over a year later he passed away. I went to Italy with my aunt and uncle the following summer. It was strange being there without my father, but at the same time I felt a calm, a peace. I began seeing my dad everywhere and the stories that people shared helped me to cope with the loss.
When I returned from my trip, I began thinking about moving to Italy. I was at a point in my life where I could make a decision like moving abroad – I didn’t own property, I was self-employed, I wasn’t married or had kids. It was now or never.
So I began working on obtaining my Italian citizenship and about a year later I had my Italian passport in hand – I was finally a Italian citizen!
In June 2010, I got on a plane. And, the only thing I was sure about was its destination. I moved with no expectations. I had no job lined-up, my Italian was scarce but I was going to go with the flow – something that is very out of character for me. As challenging as it was, I still believe it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Living in Italy has done so much for me. I was fortunate to find a job and settle in the city of Cosenza. Over the past 7 years has truly become home to me. I’m near my father’s town and visit quite often which has allowed me to only strengthen the bond that I have with my family here.
Being able to have conversations with them and experience life’s good and bad together has been a blessing. I know my father would be proud of me and I can take pride in the fact that the connection that sparked a light in me many years ago, is still burning strong.
People ask me if I will ever move back to Canada. I honestly can’t answer that question. What I do know, in this moment, is that I am where I belong, and I feel that this is where I’m meant to be.
Do you have a connection to Italy? Are you Italian? Is your significant other Italian? Or do you just love the country? I’d love to hear your story, share it in the comments!