Ok people. I’m totally skipping like 8 months because I’m a hot mess. But I am trying to get back into blogging and since I’m actually leaving Pietrasanta I thought it was the perfect time to blog about it!
First let me start with how I ended up here. If you know me, then you know my obsession with all things Italian. The people, the language, the culture and of course the food! It has been my dream for years to live in Italy for an extended period of time and really immerse myself.
Enter my friend Alison, who I met in Albania of all places! I was visiting her in Melbourne when she was telling me about a family she helps out to babysit when needed. She said there are people all over the world who need help. Obviously I’ve heard of nannying/au pairing but never really thought about doing it. When my yearlong world tour was coming to an end I thought it was finally time to move to Italy! And hence began my search for a family to live with and work for.
I was extremely lucky because the family that I now work for was the family that I really wanted to work for. I had a few other emails going back and forth but I knew immediately that this family was for me. Since they wanted more of an English teacher rather than an au pair it worked out well for both sides. Plus they live in a small, beach town, which was exactly what I needed! As much as I love Roma, I didn’t want to live in a big city. I wanted to be in a small town where I could meet locals and actually speak Italian!
After a few emails and a Skype session from South Africa, we agreed that we would be a good fit. They were cool with me starting a little later so I could go home and visit my family after finishing up Africa.
I flew from JFK to Milan on the Forth of July hoping I would have a better chance of getting a standby ticket. So unfortunately my only patriotic celebration was my Xanax/2 glasses of wine concoction I needed to make it through the flight.
I arrived in Milan where my cousin Angelo picked me up. I stayed with my relatives for a few days before beginning my “job.” These few days with my family were full of great company and wonderful food. Can you remember back to my post from last summer about my aunt’s cooking!!
A few days later I was on a 4-hour train ride to Pietrasanta, which wasn’t so bad with only one train change. I arrived at the station and was greeted by the two great big, beautiful smiles of Allegra (daughter) and Alessia (mother). Over the next few days I started to get to know them and Stefano (father). Allegra and I played and played. The following week I broke into serious teacher gear and we started English lessons along with lots of playing in English.
Allegra is a very intelligent and talented little lady! At 5 (almost 6) she’s reading and writing at a much higher level. She is also involved in lots of activities, which I was lucky enough to tag along for. Horseback riding, tennis, sculpture, lab (put on my the local children’s bookstore) and of course hanging out at the beach! This girl is so energetic and happy so it goes without saying that she has a million friends. You can’t even keep up with her at the beach because she’s always running around with her friends. For an almost six-year-old she has a very good head on her shoulders. While it’s normal to have the occasional temper tantrum, she is very reasonable and is really beginning to understand how the world works. She’s very curious and asks a lot of questions, which both parents are very patient in answering and explaining thoroughly.
I’m sitting here writing this with a week left and I’m already getting teary eyed. Today was her first day of first grade. Even though I’ve only known her for two months, I am so proud of her. This little lady has taught me so much. Not only has she helped me with learning Italian but about life in general. Her laugh is infectious and when she smiles you can’t help but smile too. I’m really going to miss her!!
Ok enough sappiness for now. Let’s talk about the social life!! For the first two weeks I didn’t know nessuno. The downside of living in a small town is it’s hard to just meet people. You can’t even just go to a bar and start chatting people up like you can in other places. And I obviously wasn’t staying at a hostel or anything. Something made me think of CouchSurfing so I looked around to see if anyone lived in the area. Turns out they did! I met a bunch of people but the two that I really because friends with are Miriam and Fabio. Miriam is an au pair in my town. She’s from Spain and does not speak English. This was great because it forced me to speak Italian with her all the time. I didn’t have the choice to switch to English if I didn’t know how to say something. I learned a lot from speaking with her and we had a lot of fun in the meantime. A birthday celebration in Firenze, encounters with random people and experiencing what seemed like the end of the world.
Fabio is a local with whom I hit it off with right away. Sometimes meeting new people is awkward but we chatted and chatted and chatted. His English is very good so sometimes we spoke in English but I’d say we spoke 65/35 Italian! Usually we made our own private English/Italian lesson while sipping a Spritz in Piazza del Duomo. Things like fare due chiacchere, shootin’ the $hit, congiuntivo and dare del Lei are very important things to know! Fabio is definitely a good egg and even shares a birthday with my mom (today)!
Thanks to both of you for making Pietrasanta a better place for me! And for always driving me up the hill!!!!!
Around the same time I met Miriam and Fabio, I decided to sign up for an Italian course. It was a little expensive but I really wanted to refresh my memory since I haven’t formally studied Italian for 10 years (did I just say that?!). Plus I figured I would meet people at school. That’s for sure! I signed up for two weeks at Centro Culturale Giacomo Pucini. It was definitely worth it because I had great teachers and really learned a lot. (GLIELO DICO!!!) Plus it’s where I got the title for this post, from my teacher Barbara. Sono al settimo cielo means I’m on cloud nine. I met lots of people in class, during coffee breaks, at the beach and of course at the weekly “spaghettata” A spaghettata is a spaghetti dinner that was put on by the school and was BYOB but actually served penne. I may or may not have snuck in for another two weeks after I finished class. 😉
If you’ve seen my Facebook page then you’ve “met” my friend Mirjam (same pronunciation as my Spanish friend but different spelling and definitely made for some confusion!). Somehow I always end up with a Dutchie friend! They are all so gezellig that I guess I am just drawn to them. Anyway, Mirjam offered me friendship, laughter, Italian chats and a place to crash after spaghettata. We shared many funny moments in Viareggio before meeting up in Bologna for a weekend where we ate and drank our way through the city. I introduced her to the Au Pair website I used and she quickly found a family. Actually a family I was emailing with back in May, which is crazy! I am excited for her to be in Rome but I can’t wait to visit her in Holland one day!
I have met many, many others but these three definitely needed a shout out! Here are some of the other crazy, fun-loving people I’ve met!
Three other highlights of being here were The Color Run, visiting my family in Paestum and getting a visit from Elisa. The Color Run was a 5K that went through the town, onto the beach and through the park. Basically they throw colored powder at you. If it comes to your town, DO IT! It’s pretty awesome!
I went to visit my family for ferragosto. After almost nine hours of traveling on the train (including standing butt-butt with some guy because the train was so packed!) I arrived in Agropoli. I was greeted by the most amazing welcoming committee; my cousins and their cousins! I was only there for 5 days but those days were jam packed!
Elisa is from NY but lives in France. She came to Italy after a week in Corsica and stayed in a cute little town called Monteggiori. I showed her around where I live and we ate dinner at a restaurant with an amazing view called Le Tre Terrazze. And of course we hit up Pisa again for some silly pics!
Now that my time is coming to an end, it’s definitely bittersweet. I’m leaving a wonderful family, friends I just met, and a spoiled rotten life (think my own room with a huge, marble bathroom, laundry done, ironed and hung, three meals a day, and a tent at the beach on top of getting some “pocket money!”).
But I am finally, finally, finally getting my cittadinanza. For those who know me well know that I have been working on obtaining my Italian citizenship on and off for years. For the second half of September I’ll be going to Petacciato to apply. I’ll update you all on that as it really gets rolling!