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  • Writer's pictureDonna Gerard

Incredible Opportunity In Italy

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

As a first time traveler to Italy, I had been planning to experience many of the wonders that most tourists see. But on this trip I was beyond fortunate to experience real Italian life, up close and personal, thanks to our across-the-pond family that hosted my husband and me for a week. This was an opportunity that most people don’t get and I’d like to express the utmost appreciation to Aunt Anna and Uncle Perry for making such a wonderful week possible.

Here’s a partial list of what we got to see that stretched far beyond the museums and tours we had scheduled later in our trip:

  • We had the privilege of seeing different homes from the inside and found architecture and style just as varied as it is here.

  • We shopped in ordinary supermarkets and clothing stores not designed for tourists.

  • As a retired teacher, I had the pleasure of chatting with three students, Anna, Anna, and Maria Serena about their schools. I also got to speak with Francesca, who teaches French in Italy. She assured me that teachers in Italy are just as frustrated as teachers in the U.S.

  • We got to see a small family farm and meet the pig who will provide 2024's pancetta, soppressata, salami, bacon, and ribs. They have an on-site kitchen where they will not only butcher the pig, but the huge amounts of tomatoes and other vegetables to be processed and jarred. We drove under the hazelnut trees that may very well be featured in my next purchase of Nutella. Much of what we ate during the week came from the farm.

Photo by Donna Gerard

  • We visited the family cemetery on what happened to be right before their Day of the Dead. We were there as they purchased flowers and put them in jars hanging from the fronts of the wall of mausoleums.

  • We were treated to the “best pizza in Avellino” by Mario and Lina, the cousins who visited us 27 years ago. It might be the best pizza I ever ate. Sorry Rome, but Neapolitan pizza beats any pizza in the world.

  • We got to eat from the Great Grandma of all anti-pasta platters. I need to make this at home. Where can I buy a plank as long as I am?

  • We found not one or two, but three relatives who were willing to drive us 2 1/2 hours to Rome, only to turn around and go home, so we wouldn’t have to take the train and struggle with our suitcases.

  • On our last night, another teacher, Graziella, established herself as the queen of picking out a gift for someone you hardly know. This is a print of the original University of Naples, founded in 1224 by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. It’s now proudly hanging on our wall.

Travel is an advanced form of education. On the first leg of our trip we saw behind the scenes of family life in Italy. We also learned about the incredible hospitality of family to a couple of distant (as in across the ocean) relatives, and that hospitality was equally extended to me- a practical stranger who knows next to no Italian. This week afforded us an experience that can not be bought with mere money. I will remember and cherish this opportunity forever.

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