Where do I start….I’m a grandmother of four and if it were not for a very good friend of mine I never would have reconnected with my distant relatives in Italy. For this I’m eternally grateful to him! My job as a flight attendant has also given me many opportunities to visit Italy for work and for pleasure.
I love Italy….it is in my blood. My father’s family, the Bottieri’s, are from a small village, Alta Villa near Naples. My mother’s family, the Santagapita’s, live south of Rome, right in the ‘spine’ of Italy, in a little village named Carpinone.
I have vivid memories of my first trip to Italy which I took with my parents in 1969. It was like going back in time. I woke up one morning to the sounds of voices outside my window. I opened the shutters and saw a bunch of women washing their clothes in the stream behind my cousin’s house. When they were finished they put the clothes in baskets which they then placed on top of their heads for the walk back home. No wonder they had such great posture! We ate fresh fruits and veggies straight from the garden, and of course freshly made pasta. I don’t remember seeing many cars, but there were donkeys and horses with buggies.
Fast forward to 2001. I was visiting Italy with my (then) husband and suddenly I had this urge to reconnect with my long lost relatives in Carpinone. I called my “Aunt Antoinette” in New York and asked her to call the relatives in Italy to see if it would be possible for me to visit. Of course they said yes! I hopped on a train and headed south. When I reached Carpinone I had a general idea of where their house was located, but I wasn’t sure which door to knock on. All I had to do was ask a local “Dov’e la casa di Santagapita?”, and they immediately pointed to the right door.
When I knocked on the door my mother’s cousin answered and when we saw each other the tears just wouldn’t stop. They welcomed me with open arms. Back then I spoke very little Italian so I just kept saying “Si” to everything…we laugh about that now.
Once Italy gets into YOUR blood you won’t be able to get enough either. You’ll want to return again and again. I live, laugh and love (La Dolce Vita) whenever I’m in Italy. I cry each time I have to leave. I love EVERYTHING about this country.
If you have relatives in Italy I strongly suggest you try to find them – you will be happy you did. If you don’t have any Italian relatives but just want to have the experience of living in Italy for a short time, I can help you.
CHASE YOUR DREAMS AND LIVE THEM