Monday, February 27, 2012

Sweet Summertime in Southern Italy

After landing in Rome on June 16, 2011, the first place I visited was Bari, and its surrounding towns.  My mom and aunts' good friend Nuccia lives in a nearby town called Valenzano with her husband, sons and mother - they are one part of another Italian family we consider close friends.  

Spending time with my friends in southern Italy was a great introduction to living in a new culture for a few reasons.  First of all, I was able to adjust to the language and way of life with people I know well.  Additionally, my family friends have experience living in America as well, and speak English, even though I tried my best to only speak Italian! 

One lesson I learned about speaking another language (specifically on my five hour car ride from Rome to Bari with my friends Francesco and Antonio) is that getting your point across is much more important than conjugating a verb correctly! My Italian greatly improved as a result of my time with my family friends - it definitely got me ready to speak only Italian with my cousins in Northern Italy!

I really enjoyed my long weekend in Valenzano - it is definitely not Lizzie McGuire's Italy, but it is beautiful in its own way.  I plan on utilizing my next few posts to highlight some of my favorite memories of my weekend in the Puglia region!

A street in Valenzano! 
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To start off, my favorite part of visiting Bari/Puglia/Valenzano was that I was able to get to know my family friends better - especially my friends Francesco and Antonio, who are both closer in age with me than any of my first cousins are.  I absolutely loved sitting on the terrace eating lunch and dinner with Nuccia, Michele, Nonna Carmela, Francesco, Antonio, and even Roy the adorable puppy! 

My Nonna's best friend Carmela (aka Nonna Carmela) is a fantastic cook - I definitely ate well! Pasta, pizza, cotoletta - my mouth is watering just thinking about all the food.  

I was also introduced to the amazingness that is cappuccino. Now, I must have some form of espresso drink at some point in the day. 

Southern Italy was a fantastic introduction to life in a foreign country.  My one regret is that I was so nervous/jet lagged, I forgot to take pictures! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Italy Inspiration - A Romanticized Land

I chose to study in Italy to embrace half of my heritage. I grew up constantly hearing and occasionally speaking my Nonna's (grandmother's) native language and hearing stories about my mother and aunts' adventures visiting our relatives and friends.

Although I am second generation Italian American, my family genuinely embraces our heritage and we try our best to stay updated on the current state of the motherland. 

However, I have to admit, I grew up in the era of boy bands and quality Disney stars - I was a huge Lizzie McGuire fan. 

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Strange as it seems, The Lizzie McGuire Movie is definitely one of my many Italian inspirations.  It may not be high quality Italian cinema, but it captured 11-year-old Colette's imagination, and it is still a movie I thoroughly enjoy.

Lizzie McGuire was an awkward middle school girl - as a young teenager, I identified with her.  She finally gains confidence at the end of the film - so naturally, growing up I always associated Italy with confidence and true happiness.  Although Hollywood's version of Italy is definitely romanticized, for me, Italy truly does have a something special about it - even amid today's economic and political turmoil.

It just so happens that my Disney guilty pleasure is airing on WGN - what a lovely Sunday surprise before my sorority's chapter meeting!

I never noticed some of the famous landmarks appearing the movie - my favorite part of watching it now is that I can tell exactly where some of the scenes were shot! For example, the fireworks scene halfway through the film is definitely near Castel Sant'Angelo for the feast of St. Peters - a Roman celebration in which my friends and I were able to take part!

Some of my photos from St. Peter festivities:

Although the Lizzie McGuire Movie presents a highly romanticized Rome - the core spirit of La Citta' Eterna e' lo stesso!*

*translation: e' lo stesso = is the same

One Year Ago...

"Quando si chiuda una porta, si apre sempre un portone."

When one door closes, another one always opens.

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Just about a year ago, I was accepted to study film in Rome during DePaul's summer session - this experience is proof that this quote is true. My sophomore year of college started off ending a three year relationship that really shaped me as a person.  Yes, I know that there is much more to the world than romance and dating, but to the 19-year-old me, this was a big deal.  Little did I know, that closing one major door in my life allowed me to open so many more - including living the dream for a month and a half.

Studying abroad during the summer was a major decision for me.  I am a career oriented person, and planned on applying for advertising or PR internships in Chicago.  However, when one of my closest friends and sorority sisters told me she was applying to the new College of Communication Rome program, I had to look into it.  With my family's support, I put my heart into a series of essay questions, faculty recommendations, and one annoying passport application.  The work, tears, and nerves resulted in the best early birthday present ever - I was accepted to the program, along with one of my best friends!

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Spring quarter dragged on and flew by at the same time. Before I knew it, I was boarding a plane to Munich at O'Hare. I was excited and terrified at the same time - it was the second time I ever flew by myself, and my first experience in international travel.

The longest plane ride of my life resulted in the most amazing experience. Although Rome was over six months ago, I still reflect on my experiences every day.

I strive to keep a part of Italy - in some way, shape,  or form - present in my life in Chicago!