When I was eleven years old, I bought an Italian Dictionary. While other kids that age bought comic books and toys, my desire was to learn how to speak Italian. This was because I fell in love with Dean Martin (to this day!) and wanted to be ready to speak to him in his native tongue, should I ever run into him! This turned into a life-long love of all things Italian and one of my retirement projects is to finally learn how to speak the language fluently or at least passable. I already downloaded the APP and study a word or an expression a day.
Over the years, Italy loomed large in my thoughts. I integrated the word Ciao in my every day greetings, I poured over maps of Italy, I always chose Italian cuisine when eating out. The term “una faccia, una razza” speaks volumes to me. One face, one race is a shared heritage between Italy and Greece; it points out the similarities, the love of life, the zest, the energy, the passion – the mindset of these two countries that I love. Identifying how so many words in Italian have Greek roots began as a hobby and has evolved into being a point of reference to others debating the pros and cons of each country.
My first trip to Italy was the summer between junior and senior years in college. I flew over to Florence from Athens with four friends. Naturally I was the translator because I had taken two years of Italian and had some understanding of it, along with the absolute fervor of being there!
The second trip to Italy was after college when I worked at TWA. My parents and I planned a trip to Greece and on the way home, we stopped in Rome. It was a trip of a lifetime for them and a natural for me. We spent our days sightseeing: The Vatican, The Fountain of Trevi, The Pantheon, etc. We ate pasta and dad was amazed that I could order in Italian! We also went shopping. I remember my mother asking me “How many millions did we spend today?” The lira was still in affect then and the zeros were endless. We laughed ourselves silly imagining how wealthy we must be if we spent millions of lira!
My third trip to Italy was with Zaf – Rome, Florence and Venice. We traveled by train and had an amazing experience. Florence is my favorite – it is like walking into a work of art. I could live there and become thoroughly integrated with the life-style. Zaf promised a return trip, to include Tuscany, Pisa, Naples, Milan, Sicily, Capri, Lake Como, Cinque Terra, and well, all of it! Once we arrive in Greece, when we retire, and plan out our travels through Europe, Italy is the first place we will go! Bravissimo!
I have gathered up all my maps, books, interesting articles about places, restaurants, museums, etc. and placed them in a box marked ITALY! We are ready! The Italian dictionary is in there too. 😊
Exploring Italy will be the manifestation of Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing! We will share all of it, so stay tuned!
We are on it!
PS. At our wedding, we danced our first two dances from Dean Martin’s repertoire. Nobody was surprised!
Picture: Italian Dictionary Photograph from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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