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Things I Miss / Don’t Miss About Italy

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I have been loving Top Ten lists since my husband bought me Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. It was our first date and I’ve been loving him since then (my husband, but also Nick Hornby, but in a different way). In this gloomy March day while waiting for a snow storm I'm having fun thinking about things I miss and things I don’t miss about Italy. Not necessarily in order of importance. Not necessarily a serious post.

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Today I Illuminate Myself Less: M’Illumino di Meno 2017

Logo M'illumino di Meno

Something I never liked about the Italian school system was memorizing poems. We hated it. We hated it so much we were looking for every possible shortcut to ease this torture. Some of the shortcuts were so efficient I can still declaim by heart Dante's XXVI Sonnet from Vita NovaAnd then there were the smart kids, those who thought they were better than the rest of us because they knew how to cheat (unfortunately, Italy is full of people like this). Those little geniuses (furbetti in Italian) were the ones who used to choose Giuseppe Ungaretti's Mattina as their poem. Here's the complete text below:

M'illumino

d'Immenso

And in English (my translation):

I Illuminate Myself With Immensity

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On an Italian island, a documentary and a tragedy

Cliffs of Lampedusa, Italy

My husband and I visited Lampedusa in June 2010. At the time we still had no kids so we were able to have a proper relaxing vacation. Just the two of us, wandering about the beaches, reading Andrea Camilleri’s books, eating delicious food. screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-11-02-01We always loved small islands, they’re the perfect solution for a stress free vacation. In fact, the island is a defined space: the sea sets the boundaries for your imagination. The restless traveller - as we are - knows he/she has a limited amount of land to explore, so he/she will be moderately tormented by the curiosity of knowing more and going a little farther every time. Lampedusa had always aroused our geographical curiosity for its being a sort of Finis Terrae. The ancient Romans used this expression to define “the end of the earth”. As you can see from the map, Lampedusa is the southernmost land of Europe. As restless travellers, of course we managed to reach the southernmost part of Lampedusa, which looks like this:

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Life, Death, Quakes and All That Jazz (or, Living Abroad in the Digital Age)

Damaged House

My grandfather went to Argentina in the 1940s, he was 17 years old and he lived there for 8 years. When he left, he didn’t know if he would ever come back, if he would see his family again, if he would be able to reach them in case something happened. The trip from his small village in Italy to Buenos Aires took about 2 months. Emigrating at that time was like going on another planet.

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Did you REALLY leave Italy to come to Canada?

Le Marche Hills

Since we arrived about 2 years ago, this is the question me and my husband have been most asked. When we say we come from Italy, Canadians open their eyes wide and simply can’t believe we left Italy for Canada. After so long, I came to the conclusion that Canadians simply think we left this:

[caption id="attachment_35" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Le Marche Hills I really left this! This is the countryside just a few kilometres from my hometown, it's a magical place called "Abbazia di Chiaravalle di Fiastra" on a wonderful June day when the wheat is still green and looks like velvet.[/caption]

for this:

[caption id="attachment_38" align="alignnone" width="960"]Child carrier backpack Less than a month after our arrival in Canada, one day the snow was so deep that the stroller was useless, so I had to take my son to daycare in the backpack child carrier. My mom back home cried when she saw I posted this picture. Really![/caption]

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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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