This video has circulated in a group of Italian women I belong. The video is all about the best most common Italian food. Many women in the group commented that the video made them cry. I know, we the expatriates, miss our mother land, we get very emotional and like them I miss it too, but Italy is not all about food.
Thanks to the proliferation of food lovers, importers have made possible for us expatriates to find all kinds of Italian food even here in the USA making the distance from home more digestible. Prices for imported real Italian food are outrageous, but they know we bend to their wishes and our tables are always a bounty of food from home that manage to astound our friends and silence our pain.
What I miss about Italy is not the food. What I miss is a life of subtle emotions.
A. I don’t see the swallow birds and their sweet chirping announcing the coming of Spring. Instead, I see black, scary and ominous crows. Their sound reminds me of Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”.
B. I don’t hear the church bells ringing at midday marking Italian lunch time break. How sweet to go home and eat with the family.
C. I miss my neighbor knocking on my door to ask for a cup of sugar, a lemon or a hand full of parsley, which often is an excuse to get a cup of coffee together.
D. I miss my girlfriends calling at 11:00 at night just to shoot the breeze and tell me about the happenings of their day. In the US nobody calls anymore but everybody text. Texting takes more time to write word by word than to say the same thing verbally. Voice travels faster than typing and the voice doesn’t betray emotions. Through voice we can detect if a person is sick, sad, happy or lying. Texting is cold, calculate and abbreviated.
E. I miss the salty water smell of my Adriatic Sea and the transparent waters of Gargano and Salento. Just taking a simple walk around the Lungomare (along the sea) in the downtown area of Bari my hometown is invigorating, healthy and relaxing.
F. The grocer in my hometown, when he received a new product, a new wine or something he knew I would appreciate, always put it aside for me, or called me to tell me about it and if I didn’t show up in the store for 3-4 days, he would send someone at my home to check that everything was fine and didn’t need any help. In the American grocery shops I am one of the millions shoppers without a face or name.
G. I miss taking long walk with friends, talking, laughing and watching shops’ windows without buying anything.
H. I miss going to restaurants and café for fun, leisure, pleasure, not for conducting business as people do in the States. It gives me indigestion to sit in front of food at all hours of the day and talk business with people I might not see again. I eat breakfast in the early morning, lunch under the sun rays and dinner under the moon rays. I don’t miss any meal because of work and I don’t eat and drink at all hours of the day either. Having a glass of wine at 3:00 in the afternoon, just to share some business ideas, doesn’t cut it for me and end up either changing the appointment to a more convenient time for me or turn it down all together. In Italy we have apéritif after 6:00 pm, when the day is over and we can enjoy friends, colleagues, or business associates as people.
I. I miss my neighbors sticking their nose in my business. There was time I thought they were such a nuisance, but if I got sick, they always came around with soups and cooked food. Now in the States, I live in a very private neighborhood, it’s so private that if I leave for month, no one knows I was gone and if I am sick nobody brings me anything, because nobody knows I am even sick.
Perhaps some of my northern friends in my Italian group will disagree with me. Perhaps the North of Italy is very much like the US, but I come from the South of Italy, where each one of us has a weight in somebody else’s life, friendship is real, family ties are strong, promises are promises and contracts are still done with a handshake. “I see you later”, really means later in the same day, or “I call you later”, really means that person will call again in a few hours. You have no idea how many times I waited for someone to call or to come, when I first arrived in the States and didn’t know any better.
One of the comments of my group of women said we must be in peace with ourself and accept the new place as it is. There is no one living in a foreign country more in peace as I am. I made a great living in a foreign land without anyone’s support and without a family. I am very thankful to have experienced a new life and new customs, but the things I miss, I will always miss and if I think harder the list could be longer. Pardon my lament, it’s so uncharacteristic of me to write a post like this one, it must be the corny Christmas time. Wishing you all great holiday seasons. Ciao,
Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola, is the principal designer and owner of Valentina Interiors & Designs. She is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works all over the world via Skype line and in the traditional in home consultations producing concepts for remodeling, restoration of historical dwelling, upgrading, décor restyling and home fashion. Vogue magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15 and interviewed on various Blog Talk Radios. Author of three books all-available on