Today I am sharing a post from a dear online friend, Julie Angelos Lama. She is an ex-pat living and working in Italy. Julie fell in love with an Italian man, got married and settled down in Italy. She has two darling sons who seem to be the light of her life. She is also a teacher, a writer, a sister, daughter, and a painter. Oh did I mention she is also a blogger? She is one of the first bloggers I got to know when I first started Italian Mama Chef. She even wrote a little e-book to help others get started in blogging. I asked Julie to write a little bit about her experiences in Italy during Christmastime. As I read her post, I could just imagine her 20 years ago, living in Italy as a college student. I hope you enjoy this Christmas gift from me to you. Merry Christmas to all!
Christmas in Italy
Well hello friends of Michelle and readers of her outstanding Mama Chef blog. I’m honored that Michelle asked me to be a guest blogger today. I’m going to talk about what it’s like to live in Italy at Christmastime so please join me for a few minutes for a nice little chat.
The first Christmas I spent in Italy was in Florence about twenty years ago. I was living with the nicest roommate I could have imagined and studying on a year abroad California State University International Studies Program. It was easily one of the best years of my life. I had gone from being an easy-going Californian beach girl to the first city I have ever known: Florence, Italy, my most beloved Firenze.
Christmastime in Italy is nothing less than magical. If you can imagine the song ‘Silver Bells’, I think that sets the scene. I suppose I’d have to say to your blog visitors, Michelle, that there were so many differences the first year I lived here, so many I would have liked to wrap them in a box and send them in a bow.
In fact, that year, I did. I chose what I thought were some of the finest things that Italy had to offer and I sent them in a box to my family. I chose warm soft red leather gloves for my sister and a beautiful frame for my father. I had his initials monogrammed in it. I can’t remember the rest but I can tell you this:
I would walk arm in arm with my roommate and friends and we would gaze into the shops with desire for beautiful things. We’d laugh over an Italian ice cream ~ gelato. The rain didn’t stop us from taking nice strolls. You could just walk next to the tall buildings if you forgot your umbrella. We’d watch the Italians stylishly bundled in their beautiful jackets, hats, boots, scarves and gloves.
I apologize for I have strayed from the theme of this post, traditions, foods, smells and people ~ what it’s like to live here and how that Italy is over all less commercial than US. Instead I would like to talk about the people. First of all a city is the sum of its people, isn’t it? I’ve made friends here that are still so dear to me and continue to do so. In Italy, there are about 60 million people in a country just about the size of California.
I had to get used to the fact that there are more people everywhere. The supermarkets are bustling, there’s just people everywhere. With that, at least for me, came dialogue. I mean conversation, the art of conversing. We would spend hours and I mean hours talking. That’s just such a lovely thing to do. We’d spend our time sharing our lives’ stories.
Also, people are very good here at commenting, not the usual ‘have a nice day’, but just a general banter. I’ll be more explicit. It’s not like you choose your items off the shelf of a supermarket in USA and pay to an unknown cashier. You actually know the family of the owner of the corner store, most likely have been over for dinner, and you have to use WORDS to ask for things you need such as bread.
On the other hand, we didn’t have the use of internet to have contact with home so we wrote nice long letters. Believe it or not, our apartment didn’t have a telephone so we’d have to wait in long lines to call home. I missed hearing the voices of loved ones. It’s so important in our lives to be connected, isn’t it? Otherwise I was lost on a beautiful refined cultured island shaped like a boot with lovely people. I am still getting used to the store hours here but that’s another post entirely.
I apologize because I’ve been a bit long-winded. I think I could talk for hours about a subject I hold so dear to my heart. In the mean time, I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas full of magic and love and lasagna.
Julie Angelos Lama