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Books, Guides, Toys

How to find a destination

In my family, there are some things we are very passionate about. I bet it happens in every family with kids: one day you just take a book from the library, watch a cartoon or a documentary, or somebody gives you a really nice toy. Your kid gets very passionate about it, and, as a consequence, you as well. Being a parent is fun because you become a child again. In some couples, like ours, I sometimes suspect we decided to have kids just because we wanted to play with their toys. Not to mention bouncy castles, which didn’t exist when we were kids, but this is another story. Some time ago we picked this book at the library titled Following Papa’s Song, by Gianna Marino. The book tells the story of Little Blue and Papa whale and their journey to their summer feeding ground. The illustrations are really beautiful and accurate, and the story explores father-son relationship with tenderness. It soon became a classic for us. We borrowed it from the library so many times  that we ended up buying it. This is how our passion for whales started. So we began to watch documentaries about whales, we became supporters of Sylvia Earle, we visited an amazing exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, and so on. 

"When I am big, Papa, will I still hear your song?" "Yes, Little Blue. If you listen closely, you will always hear my song." (Following Papa's Song by Gianna Marino)

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A Castle as a Playground

Italian Village

Tangled Up in Blue

And then one day I wake up and I’m homesick. Don’t worry, nothing serious. It’s just something hidden for a long time, buried by the enthusiasm of a new place, new life, opportunities and dreams. It’s that sometimes I really feel like I live in a different planet then where I grew up. In moments like this I try to hold on a positive memory, a safe corner of my mind. So be careful, this is going to be a bit of a sentimental post, but also a celebration of a place that is still there: a castle as a playground.

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Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

Maple Syrup and I

Ask anybody in the world to name something about Canada. The majority of them will say “maple syrup”. Even if they don’t have the faintest idea what it tastes like. In Italy it is not that easy to find maple syrup: we usually know it from movies and comics. Topolino (the Italian version of Micky Mouse) is a big lover of pancakes with maple syrup, and I bet I’m not the only one who thought about it the first time I tasted it. My “maple syrup baptism” was when I was 19 during my first trip to Canada. I was traveling with my best friend, we were in Toronto hosted by a friend of a friend of a friend. One morning this lovely Canadian lady made use french toasts with maple syrup. Now, I have to confess I’m not really a big fan of sweets and sugary things. Probably, these french toasts were really really heavy, but the whole thing gave me a terrible stomach ache. So, let’s say the first experience was not that great.

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From Here to There

Road in Canada

In Italy I used to live in Bologna. From Bologna you are:

  • 35 minutes from Florence (by high-speed train)
  • 1 hour from Milan (by high-speed train)
  • 1 hour 15 minutes from Rome (by high-speed train)
  • 1 hour 25 minutes from Venice (by high-speed train)
  • 3 hours 35 minutes from Naples (by high-speed train)

not to mention:

  • 1 hour from Munich (by direct flight)
  • 1 hour 35 minutes from Paris (by direct flight)
  • 1 hour 40 minutes from Brussels (by direct flight)
  • 2 hours from Prague (by direct flight)
  • 2 hours 5 minutes from London (by direct flight)
  • 2 hours 15 minutes from Madrid (by direct flight)
  • 2 hours 25 minutes from Athens (by direct flight)

and why not changing continent?

  • 1 hour 45 minutes from Tunis (by direct flight)
  • 2 hours 40 minutes from Istanbul (by direct flight)
  • 3 hours from Marrakech (by direct flight)

just to name a few…

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Ciao, eh!

This blog is based on my experience as immigrant, Italian and mom in Toronto. During these years in Canada I've been asked a lot of questions from my Canadian friends and colleagues, and some of these questions are always the same. WHY did you leave Italy for Canada? What do you think about this or that Italian book/movie? How is Canada seen from Italy? What do you think of that Italian restaurant? Do you make your own tomato sauce at home? I'm serious, I've been asked about tomato sauce at least 4/5 times... when I say I buy it at the grocery store they're definitely disappointed, so I always add that my grandma used to make it at home.
In these years I realised that Canadians tend to have a stereotypical idea of the Italian immigrant: arrived about 50 years ago, well established after working very hard, very nostalgic about his home land (Italy of the 50s, 60s, 70s), celebrating his roots with cheesy festivals... I don't want to play down the importance of these people. However, I believe it should be interesting for Canadians to see that there are now new Italian immigrants: they speak English and they buy tomato sauce at the grocery store.
There will be posts about the socio-economic situation in Italy, interviews to new and old Italian immigrants, Canadian news as seen from Italy, reviews of Italian books, movies, restaurants, traveling tips, recipes... so.. STAY TUNED!

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