Venice, courtesy of this website.
After a lot of soul-searching, I've forgiven the Italians for their despicable showing during the final game of the World Cup, and as a gesture of apology for suggesting they were dirty cheaters, I'm spending the rest of the month in their country. Tomorrow it's off to Venice, to stay with my former roommate, get totally lost in the maze of bridges and waterways, and not eat fish; then on the 16th I'm meeting Nicolas in Naples, from whence we will hydrafoil it to Anacapri for a week of relaxing, eating, reading, and activities I won't discuss on my blog because, after all, I am a Lady.
So, Italy. I can fake speaking it like nobody's business. E perchè no? Sono italiana molto più di francese! La mia nonna è nato in Bari, e tutti la mia via ho ascoltato parlare italiano tutti la mia famiglia! [in the name of all that is holy, someone do a sister a favor and correct me, my dear grandmother is spinning in her grave!] Unlike me, my sister rocks the language of Dante, having spent a semester in Rome, and my dad's not half bad either. Well, you'll have to trust that my accent is better than my grammar. All it takes is a little "Allora, chè cosa fai?" and I can fool even a native. [Someone out there is snorting. Basta, non è buffo, sono molto vergognosa!]
It's not my first time to Italy; in fact, I've travelled throughout Italy more times than I can count. I absolutely adore it. Some people choose to go to a different destination every time they travel, but I think these are the people who don't reread books or rewatch movies. I, on the other hand, may have never been to Croatia, Cameroon or Copenhagen, but I know France and Italy like the back of my hand. Of course there are other places in the world I'd like to visit... But all in good time, I'm sure.
It is a very strange feeling, though, to visit the country of one's ancestors and not to speak the language, really. But then again, why should we speak it? I don't speak Russian or Yiddish or Gaelic or German or any of the various languages of the countries whose native children occupy branches on my family tree, and I don't feel like I ought to, but Italian is different. But then, my Italian family are the only ones who actively hold onto the homeland-- my Jewish cousins and my Irish Catholic cousins speak variants of New Yorkese.
The American "melting pot" phenomenon is one that never ceases to amaze me, probably because my sister and I have the blood of at least five countries running in our blood. The Ellis Island mythology was so strongly instilled in me at my elementary school that I sometimes feel like my own emigration back to Europe is some kind of betrayal of America. I mean, they all left Europe for a reason, right? My Jewish ancestors, fugeddababout it, they were lucky to escape with their tails intact from the scary Cossacks that came to burn down their shtetl (when I was little I thought maybe they took the same boat as Fievel).
I don't know the particulars of why the Recchias left Bari; I believe Mussolini was part of it, and they had the foresight to get out of there soon after he came to power. My great-grandfather went first, and the rest of the family followed. Except my grandmother's little sister, Palma, had some kind of infection, and when they arrived in New York (they did not come by boat, incidentally; they flew), the immigration authorities wouldn't let her in. They made her go all the way back to Italy! She lived out the rest of her life in Bari, and I didn't get to meet her before she died, a few years ago.
Anyway, I'll try to blog from Venice but I doubt they have internet where I'll be in Capri... just a blue grotto, a poolside bar, and my lovah.
Speaking of whom, tonight we're going to Nonna Ines, our neighborhood Italian place in the rue de l'Arbalete, per una pregustazione d'Italia. He thinks I speak Italian fluently. I intend to have him in such a haze of grappa, prosecco, and lovemaking that he won't even notice all I do is wave my arms and say allora.
[NDLR: For some reason Blogger is freaking out and not listening to my html formatting commands. And jet setter that I am, I don't have time to futz around with it. My apologies]