This piece was inspired by the songs The 1 and Cardigan by Taylor Swift. And if you loved this, you'll love my book Wander(lust) and all the stories in my Creative Writing here.
If you had been the one, we would be living near San Francisco and surrounded by academics. Your colleagues are Stanford professors and when we entertain them at our place, they give me forced smiles and comment incessantly on what a talented artist I am as they scan the walls of our living room with Tom Ford tortoiseshell glasses propped on their noses. You never liked going out to eat, so I’ve never been to Foreign Cinema or to Sotto Mare in North Beach. Instead, we do weekends out immersed in the Redwoods because it’s where you’re happiest, with a backpack and hiking shoes on your feet. Being with you makes me feel outdoorsy, even though I’m really quite the opposite. You don’t like makeup. I remember that time we saw Eva Green on the big screen and James Bond looks at her as she’s getting ready and you looked at me and said – see how beautiful she is without anything on her face? I wanted to tell you that the most makeup goes into making her look like she’s wearing none, a fact that all women know and no man does but instead I just throw out a lifetime of Sephora and keep a clear lip gloss and some mascara for special occasions. My wardrobe is simpler too, just every day basics because that’s what you wear. Jeans and a T-shirt is somehow acceptable if you’re a brilliant member of faculty. I’ve only ever seen you in a dress shirt at graduations and you always looked ready to disappear. You hate attention, I love it. And so I think, if you had been the one, mine would be a life with a little more order and a lot less passion. It is perhaps a life better suited to one of us than the other and I am the other. One day, I find myself strolling Pier 39 amongst the tourists and the sea lions and maybe, just by chance, I hear the soft strokes of a language half a world away. It’s Italian. I’ve never studied it in my life but for the quickest second- like a flame erupting and burning to black all at once- it ignites a yearning in me, a twisting, needing, wanting sensation. Like when you know your soul mate just walked by on the street, hands nearly grazing and for a brief moment, you are where you were meant to be. In that moment, I see a different version of myself in a vintage tee, a brand new phone in hand, walking confidently in high heels on cobblestone, somewhere in Rome.
This piece was inspired by the songs The 1 and Cardigan by Taylor Swift. And if you loved this, you'll love my book Wander(lust) and all the stories in my Creative Writing here.
It was summertime, isn't it always when you last see someone? The birds singing and the limpid blue skies of my hometown overhead. I was already living abroad at the time and walking back up the oak-lined streets of the university campus, the entire life I'd left behind felt like an entire lifetime ago. We were meeting at our old spot. The place with the cinnamon buns that sits along the river valley where you can never find parking. I don't remember if you were already sitting inside when I walked in, I was probably late- a habit that I had been quick to pick up after just a year in Italy. We would have hugged and it was probably awkward, the both of us with someone new when once upon a time we were with each other. You looked different. The signs of the time that had passed written all over your face. A little less hair, a few more eye crinkles. The crinkles were to be expected though. You used to smile so hard, your light green eyes would disappear. I remember when I was the reason and sitting across from you, I wonder who the reason is now. We order something and continue our conversation, this city is the only place we have in common. You've been in California, I've been on the other side of the world. It used to be easy to talk to you but now, we're walking the thin line that separates two people who were once lovers. You know, that line that you mentally cannot cross, the barriers of intimacy that you no longer are allowed to jump over even though you know you could if you wanted to - the place where all the memories remain. Like you and me driving around in a winter snowstorm, the heat all the way up and the windows wide-open so we could catch snowflakes on our tongues. Lying in your bedroom with no parents home and Snow Patrol on the speakers. High school, all of it. Drunk on whisky at some house party, that time I sat out on the doorstep as the sun came up and my dad came to pick me up. It's terrifying really, how much life changes. My dad is gone now and in a less permanent way, so are you.
This piece was inspired by a series that was started by blogger Brenna Holeman who writes The Last Time I Saw You on her site, The Battered Suitcase. I absolutely adore all of them so if you liked this one, head over and read hers. And if you loved this, you'll love my book Wander(lust).
I have had the opportunity, through this blog, of hearing and sharing your beautiful stories and helping them reach others who might be dreaming of or living a similar one. A few weeks ago, I shared Caroline's story about her Italian love, Lorenzo, a testament that love is always worth sharing and that even when a relationship ends, the love always lives on in our memories. I received an e-mail a few days ago from someone that I would like to post here. It's not an easy read but when I read it, I knew I had to share it because this is a place where we celebrate love and life. May this resonate with those of you who have lost someone, may it serve as a reminder to open your heart to love, and most importantly, to cherish each and every moment. While minutes and moments are fleeting, love remains.
Here is the e-mail, I've changed nothing:
Just as the subject of my email indicates, this is not a story with a fairy tale ending.
I met my beloved Italian, Paolo, in London last July. I am of Asian background from Melbourne, Australia and he from Pramaggiore, a small town near Venice. We had both been living in London for a year, and were both at this networking event that I was dragged along to. It was a warm summer evening, and there were loads of people in the venue, so throughout the night I kept moving to try to stand underneath the aircon. In doing so I accidentally bumped into someone, I turned around to apologise and there was Paolo. I was instantly attracted to him, he was very cute and had the most adorable smile. We started talking and he ended up hanging with me and my friends the whole night. We parted ways in the morning and while I felt the spark I didn’t think I’d see him again as we didn’t exchange any details. But as it turned out my friends gave him my insta and he DM’ed me that day. We began to talk everyday and tried to make plans to see each other but I was just about to go on a series of travels that summer and he had a busy work schedule so we didn’t up having our first date (and first kiss) until three months later. Things were going slow but really good, for the first time in my very single life I felt I actually wanted to be with someone. We made plans to travel together in the new year, he even invited me to go back to Italy with him for Christmas, to which I had to decline because I thought it was a bit soon to meet his parents (little did I realise I’d be meeting them the following month). I was excited to see him when he returned to London, we had plans to spend New Years Eve together. But as December 30th rolled by and I still hadn’t heard from him I began to worry. Something compelled me to check his social media (I had not stalked his Facebook before that night despite being connected) and sure enough, someone had posted a condolence on his page. I didn’t want to believe it, so again, something compelled me to Google his name and all these Italian articles popped up to confirm what I had dreaded. He had passed away in his sleep two weeks prior, soon after we last spoke. I remember staying up the whole night, just bawling my eyes out. My heart was shattered into a million pieces, I think a part of me died that night too. Paolo and I didn’t end up ringing in 2020 together, instead I spent New Years Day flying to Italy for his funeral. To this day I think he wanted me to find out when I did so I could be there, because had I waited longer to check I would’ve missed my chance to say goodbye. The grief has been incomprehensible and overwhelming, I cried every day for four months. I still miss him all the time, and sometimes I could feel his presence, hugging me from behind like the way he used to. It will be six months since his death, and only now am I slowly starting to feel less sad. Our love story had only begun, only for it to end so unexpectedly and abruptly. We didn’t even get the chance to take a nice photo together. He lives now only in my memories (I think I quoted that from Titanic). I have always wondered why fate had brought Paolo into my life and then took him away.
Well hello hello STRANGERS. Yes, it's been a long time since we've seen each other and the world has basically imploded since then but I'm here on this dreary Monday to bring some love back into our lives. Gina provided a backstory and was so precise in her details that I won't spoil anything with an intro, let's just get right into her words!
I had dreamt of coming to Italy since I was thirteen. My middle-school journal has a list of dreams that include traveling the world, living in Italy and maybe even marrying an Italian guy (along with becoming a marine biologist, writing the next American novel and learning dozens of languages....).
Little did I know at thirteen that at least some of those dreams would actually come true.
At 19 I had done all the work: found a study-abroad program, got a loan and booked a flight – I was finally going to Italy!
I came to Italy a month before my study abroad experience started in Florence to travel. The plan was to tour around for two weeks with my mom and nonna, then stay for two weeks with distant Italian relatives who had stayed in touch. The girls I was in contact with were my age and I was excited for the chance to get to know them in person, work on my Italian and have a support system in Italy.
I did everything I could to not find a guy while I was there and, when I met Marco, I did everything I could to keep him at arm’s length. After all, he lived in Italy, I lived in America and still had nearly three years of school left. I already had the experience of long-distance breakups from going into college and didn’t want to repeat that. I was convinced that it didn’t make sense to get romantic.... but it turns out, Marco was my support system in Italy, and he didn’t give up on me.
You can read all the (rambling) details of our story here, but it involves a lot of traveling, a lot of talking and a full year of falling in love. I repeated the facts in my head like a mantra, “we live 4,000 miles apart, we live 4,000 miles apart,” but my heart wouldn’t behave.
Nothing about our relationship has followed normal relationship time limits. Instead of first dates, we traveled Europe together. Because of this we shared a hotel bathroom before we had ever even kissed. Instead of meeting his parents over an awkward dinner, I said hi then promptly lived at their house every other weekend. And instead of our parents meeting slowly before a big wedding, we got married before our parents had even met. And you know what? It all worked out.
We often wait for logical answers to questions like, “How the hell can I date someone from another country?!” But sometimes the answer isn’t logical. Because anyway, every love story involves a certain amount of “leaping in” and I’m so glad that I did.
Now I live in Italy with Marco and our fun, spunky, bilingual 2-year-old Italian-American daughter, Adeline.
Where are you from and where is your significant other from?
I’m from Columbus, Ohio in the United States and Marco, my husband, is from Sovico, Italy, a small town in the Monza Brianza province in Lombardy.
Where and when did you meet your significant other?
I met Marco in a town of maybe 50 permanent residents in the Bergamo Alps. His family has a vacation home there and I was staying with distant relatives in their vacation home next door. They grew up hanging out together during summers in the mountains. During the week I stayed with them my relatives, Marco and another friend and I hung out from morning to night. But to be honest, when I left the mountains to head to Florence I didn’t really think much of it.
Who made the first move?
Definitely Marco. I had come to study the culture, learn the language and travel. I had left everything behind in America – including boys. The last thing I had on my mind was finding a boyfriend! But once I was settled into my apartment in Florence, Marco reached out to me to ask how things were going. Eventually we planned a sort of reunion trip to Cinque Terre with the whole group from the summer and ended up seeing each other again.
What was your first impression of him?
The first time I ever saw Marco he had just finished a hike in the mountains. He had on a plaid flannel, shorts and, knee high socks with hiking boots. I thought he was handsome but those socks!! Still, it quickly became clear that he was kind, understanding and patient. He helped me with my language barrier more than anyone and did everything he could to make sure I was comfortable. He was the glue that held the group together, making everyone laugh and making plans. I was completely charmed, knee high socks and all. (Later, when I started hiking, I understood better the practicality of knee-high socks to protect your legs from tall grass, spurs and snakes...).
Dish on the first kiss!
Our first kiss wasn’t rom-com material, but we definitely did have our Hollywood moment, and it happened on my birthday. My time studying in Florence was nearly finished. My birthday is December 15th and the 17th I had a flight home. Marco and I had already said goodbye when I had last visited him in Milan, but it was hard knowing I was still in Italy. My roommates and I had plans to go out to dinner for my birthday but for some reason they kept dilly-dallying. I didn’t mind because I was chatting online with Marco which is where I preferred to be anyway (if seeing him wasn’t an option.) It was getting later and later though and we still hadn’t left for dinner and I was feeling more and more depressed about everything when Marco and I lost connection. Just then he called me and said “Wow, it’s cold in Florence.” I didn’t understand until my roommates burst into giggles. I ran downstairs in my socks and threw open the door... only to find no one was there! Marco hadn’t expected me to race to the street so fast and was still a few doors down. I saw him, ran down the street and jumped into his arms. It was snowing and my roommates were watching from the window above. I’ve never had another moment like that!
That snow actually didn’t stop, and it ended up delaying my flight by three days. I went back to Milan with Marco and we got to spend nearly five more days together!
Where do you live now?
Now we live in Monza Brianza in Marco’s hometown.
Have you learned each other's languages?
Yes, absolutely. I had originally come to Italy to learn the language, so that’s always been important to me. Marco, like most Italians, had studied English since elementary school but had never liked it. In high school he stopped taking English as soon as he was allowed because he wanted to be an engineer in Italy “and would never need English anyway”. Now he has an American wife, a bilingual daughter and does 90% of all his business in English. Good thing he learned!
Any advice for mixed/long-distance couples?
Ack this is a hard one. Long distance is really hard – especially at first when we had no plan for how it could work out in the future. I always joke that our relationship was the most expensive relationship ever with all those cross-Atlantic flights! Marco even moved to Ohio for six months and enrolled in college just to get a visa to stay with me. He learned English that way so it was helpful, but expensive!
Still, what made it work was the support. Even 4,000 miles away Marco was more supportive than any of the American guys I had met or been with. We talked multiple times per day through various technologies, we wrote long emails (21st-century and all) and then of course planned multiple trips to visit each other.
Cross-cultural relationships can be hard, even when you think your cultures are quite similar, there are plenty of differences to work through. I think if it all starts with a base of respect and a willingness to try to understand, you can work through anything.
How did he/you propose?
We didn’t have a traditional proposal, it was just a long-term conversation that turned into a wedding!
What do you love most about being married?
Marco and I originally got married in a courthouse for visa reasons, with the pact that we would have our church wedding in two years' time. We weren’t entirely sure how to handle it (it all happened pretty fast) so we sort of settled on not “counting” the courthouse wedding in an attempt to not change anything but as soon as we were married, I felt married. I really didn’t expect that, but obviously the heart knows more than the mind. I tried to control everything mentally by not thinking about the courthouse wedding and only focusing on the “real” one but it turned out to be real from the start. I was married, I had a husband and it all felt exactly how it was supposed to be. After we had our church wedding in America and a second reception with a sort of renewal of our vows in Italy for those who weren’t able to make it to the US – so essentially, we got married three times!
Submitted by Gina.
Here's how you can connect with her:
Blog: From Italy, With Love
Facebook: Gina Mussio
A huge, heartfelt thanks to Gina and Marco for sharing this wonderful story. Vi auguro tante belle cose!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to "dare un'occhiata" at all of the Love Story Lunedì.
There are so many amazing stories to read so make sure you're all caught up. And should you want to share your own story or know of a couple who would, please get in touch. The majority of these stories have been brought to me through word-of-mouth, so let's keep spreading the love.
Here are our past Love Stories in no particular order:
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Caroline and Lorenzo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Elka and Gabriele
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Godberg and Gloria
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Kelly and Michele
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Sonja and Ricky
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Loriana and Giancarlo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Nina and Enzo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Chiara and Andrea
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Marlena and Fernando
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Sherry and Andre
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Faith and Valerio
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Bianca and Luca
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Paula and Pontus
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Alicha and Dennis
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Arachi and Ciro
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Genia and Mattia
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Amanda and Michelangelo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Carmela and Paolo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Evelyn and Fabio
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Margarita and Andrea
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Viki and Que
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Athena and André
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Rosa and Rocco
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Hayley and Mike
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Philippa and Nick
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Camie and Marco
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Alannah and Eros
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Cheyenne and Giulio
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Jade and Daniele
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Chloe and Andrea
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Coral and Riccardo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Rachel and Riccardo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Daria and Francesco
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Briana and Dami
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Kayla and Luca
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Sarah and Michele
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Bailey and Carlo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Gregory and Stefania
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Sofie and Emilio
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Isabel and David
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Jasmine and Massi
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Tiffany and Adam
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Angela and Davide
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Kristie and Graziano
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Brittni and Alberto
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Maddie and Gio
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Jennie and Davide
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Lauren and Luigi
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Rebecca and Leonardo
LOVE STORIES by Questa Dolce Vita: Jennifer and James
Present Day (*again, please be aware this was written more than three years ago)
I’m writing this sdraiata sul divano, laying down on the sofa, in the house that my wonderfully schizzinoso Massi decorated (and that my legendary mother-in-law gave her okay on of course). It’s a grey evening in Bergamo, Italy, my adopted home and I’ve just downed a family-size portion of my favourite pasta: linguine allo scoglio. Sometimes, I can’t decide whether I love the taste or just the way that the word “allo scoglio” rolls off the tongue. It’s delicious to say. In the background, the news reporter of TG5 is droning on and I fail to notice at times, that I’m listening and comprehending the news in one language while writing in another. It happens during my morning commute when I’m not longer cognisant that I’m listening to the ITALIAN radio, it’s just the radio. I’m not perfect, nor do I believe that anyone can really truly be in a second-language learned as an adult. But I would have never, in my wildest dreams thought I’d be here, half-a-world away from where I was born with an Italian husband and and Italian cat named Puffo. I adopted him, the cat, not the husband just to be clear, from the gattile (the cat pound), he had been abandoned at one day old, poverino, poor little thing. Puffo was actually named before he even existed. Early in my Italy adventures, I became obsessed with a unnaturally bright blue gelato flavour called Puffo, normally the choice of small children due to its color and the fact that Puffi is the Italian translation of Smurfs. I liked all this backstory on the name, plus the way that Puffo reminds me of something “puffy” or “fluffy”. And so here we are, a little family- a Canadian, an Italian, and a bilingual, bicultural cat, living the dream. Or is it?
I have worries for the future, it’s only natural. I worry for my Dad and how long it will be until a small speck turns up on a routine imaging exam. We have been too lucky, I think, three big surgeries and one round of radiation and three years later, clean scans across the board. But having studied cancer drugs and done my fourth-year pharmacy rotation at a cancer hospital, I know there’s always the possibility that despite all the interventions, one cell may have escaped and is now slowly, but steadily, setting up house somewhere in Dad’s fragile body. I worry for my Mom, who is my best friend in the whole world. I worry that she is lonely without me, that a mother’s hope when the doctor’s tell them “it’s a girl”, is that they will never be alone, they’ll always have their shopping, dinner, and a movie partner-in-crime. I worry for my aging grandparents because I know how time flies and health can change in a heartbeat. I worry for my little brother who is just finding his footing and who I’m sure would have loved a guiding hand from his only big sister. And finally, I worry about all the other friends and family I left behind and all the milestones, happy and sad, that I will inevitably miss in the future. I ask myself whether I can still be considered a friend if I’m absent from all these events- a wedding, a birthday, a birth, a loss…is it possible that I’ve been completely selfish to have dropped everything and everyone to follow my heart?
I have an inkling feeling that this is a question that I will never be able to answer. It will always be there, at the back of my mind as it is the eternal question for the millions of other people who leave home to work and live abroad. I have made plans to travel back “home” to Canada in the summer for Mom’s 60th birthday, a milestone that simply cannot be missed. Yet the strangest feeling always emerges when I’m with my friends and family in Canada. At some point during the trip, I start to feel homesick for Italy, for my life here, for my Italian friends and family. And in that moment of homesickness, I know in my heart of hearts, that there is no right or wrong choice, stay or go, neither is more honorable or courageous than the other. The only choice I made was to follow love which is the one thing that is indisputably worth fighting for and crossing oceans for. I try to remind myself that a parent’s greatest hope for their children is that they find happiness and I can say with complete conviction that I am irrevocably happy in Italy. However, if that parent happened to be an Asian immigrant, the becoming a doctor thing still trumps all. So I finally gave in and became one, but not in the way you think. In moving to Italy, I have the official right to the academic title “Dottoressa” because I graduated from university! In fact, Massi and I are both “doctors”! Talk about a bizarre twist of fate eh?
Update: unfortunately since I wrote this, my family has suffered the loss of my dad after a long fight with cancer and the sudden death of my grandpa. While I still grieve, their passings were a stark reminder to me that we should never take time for granted and thus, if you have a dream, somewhere you've always wanted to go or something you've always wanted to do, do it now. Don't wait.
...to be continued. Final Chapter coming soon.
This Sweet Life: Chapter Four
This Sweet Life: Chapter Three
This Sweet Life: Chapter Two
This Sweet Life: Chapter One
This Sweet Life: Prologue
*this is a really mini- chapter, the idea was to write from where the story left off (so from graduation from university until my first move to Italy but, as you can see, I skipped over that part). I hope to complete it at some point but for now:
Day 365 in Italy – BACK TO CANADA FOR CHRISTMAS
I had been “living” in Italy for 365 days on a working-holiday visa when the time came for me to go back to Canada. I never thought I would long for a Double-Double from Tim Hortons, Canadians the world over call that stuff liquid cocaine but I think it’s something stronger than that- patriotism. If you are not Canadian and reading this, a double-double is a regular brewed coffee with two creams and two sugars from a chain that is our version of America’ s Starbucks. There is nothing more Canadian than a Double-Double on a snowy day before skating or heading off to the hockey game. The coffee doesn’t cause the addiction, a bond to Canada does. I started thinking about ordering my Double-Double as I was loading my bag to be weighed in Milan’s Malpensa airport. Just 16 hours away, I could see the light. One year of Italy later and here I was, back at the beginning where it all began, in an airport, the same airport that I had kissed Massi goodbye in all those years ago on my very first trip to Italy. That time, when I turned on my heel and tried to walk away with dignity without bursting into tears, he had slipped a hand-written note into my hand. I couldn’t bring myself to read it immediately. I kept it in my pocket until I was sitting in front of the Air Canada screen with “Toronto” scrolling in capital letters. I nimbly unfolded it, read it, and boarded the plane.
...to be continued. Chapter 5 coming Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
This Sweet Life: Chapter Three
This Sweet Life: Chapter Two
This Sweet Life: Chapter One
This Sweet Life: Prologue
*note: the timeline is not accurate as I started writing this years ago so this chapter, for example, actually took place more like 8 years ago.
5 years ago – ISCHIA
There is a saying, “see Naples and die”. One night, many years ago, I thought this saying would become a reality. I was wearing cowboy boots like only an Albertan would and I was literally shaking in them. My friend Sunmi and I had just landed in Naples. It was midnight and we arrived late because we had missed a connecting flight somewhere along the way from Edmonton to Italy. I never had the intention to land in Naples in the pitch black, two petite Asian girls in denim cut-offs speaking English with North American accents was exactly my idea of how to best get robbed in the southern Italian night. Sunmi is a Canadian-born Korean with legs for days and the kind of innocence you can’t even find in a church pew on a Sunday. We met in first year of pharmacy school, she reminded me of Elle Woods incarnated with jet black hair and you would never know her smarts because they were the kind that didn’t belong on the streets. Now, the two of us, Korean Elle Woods and I, were in Naples with twenty minutes to catch the last ferry to our destination: Ischia. We burst out the front door of the airport and I tried my very best to act authoritative and as if I knew exactly where we needed to go, as if I had taken an illegitimate taxi in Naples a million times in my life. No big deal. It’s important to note that the Napoletani can hear your non-Napolentano accent a mile away if you’re an Italian from the next city over, nevertheless a Canadian trying to speak Italian as a second language. So my cover was blown immediately. I tried to negotiate the price beforehand, seeing as the meter was “broken” but our driver was not having it. All I wanted was to arrive at the port on time to catch the ferry and in one piece, in no particular order.
The car whipped through the narrow streets, exactly like in a film, as Sunmi and I held on to each other for dear life. I started regretting telling the driver I’d give him a tip if we got there on time, I was starting to doubt we would get there alive as I was sure we had left a trail of carnage in our wake. Suddenly a screech of the tires was followed by “raga, siamo arrivati” (gals, we’ve arrived), and I couldn’t hear the rest on account of my heart that was pounding in my ears at this point. Or maybe it was Sunmi’s heart. I looked over at her and her face was glistening with what I hoped was sweat and not tears, although they could have easily been tears of joy! Needless to say, we hopped on the ferry with time to spare and made it to Forio, Ischia at 3am after having taken two planes, a taxi, a ferry, and a bus. There was actually some walking and a car involved because the bus dropped us off in the middle of a street which we walked up and down about twenty times before desperately calling the hostel owner, Giuseppe. He showed up in a beat-up old Fiat Panda and for whatever reason, I ended up sitting squashed in the front between Giuseppe and Sunmi, the three of us laughing hysterically from pure exhaustion all the way to the hostel. There was nothing more blissful than the moment my head hit the pillow that night.
While this seems like the beginning of a typical backpacking trip around Europe, it was actually school-related. Yes, unexplainably and unbeknownst to me prior to starting pharmacy school, the pharmacy program at the University of Alberta takes 30 fourth-year students to Italy for a study abroad month on the delightful island of Ischia. An initiative started by one of the now-retired pharmacy professors, its aim is to illustrate the effects of diet and lifestyle on health. The official title of the course was Intercultural Exploration of Pharmacy and Health, a synonym for “let’s eat homemade Italian food and wine every day in a classroom by the sea and call it learning”. It was a little more than three weeks of morning lectures that started off with a steaming cappuccino and warm, buttery cornetto. We took excursions to visit various thermal hot springs on the island and spent a day doing patient interactions with pharmacy students at the University of Naples. On the weekends, most of us would head off to Naples on the ferry and from there, take the fast train to discover more of Italy- Rome, Positano, Sorrento. No city was too far or out of reach.
We were hosted by the Colella family who owned a hostel, hotel, and restaurant in the town. Giuseppe, our rescuer, was the son of the owner and managed the hostel that all the students bunked at. The family was made of two other brothers whom participated equally in making our morning breakfasts and taking part in the cooking lessons that were also part of the course. It was with the Colella family that I first learned how to roll gnocchi along a fork and fry a zucchini flower, it was also the first time that I ate cuttlefish in seafood stew so exquisite that it was devoured by every single person, even a classmate of mine who didn’t know what mussels were. We learnt all about the Slow Food Movement that was started by an Italian and about sustainable food choices and the beauty of eating locally. In the evenings, we would have dance parties in the breakfast room of the hostel, to work off the carb-loading from the day. My final research paper was on the sustainability of swordfish in the Mediterranean . The research involved eating a lot of swordfish. It was also helpful for my Italian because I made it my goal to visit the fishmonger at the local market and ask questions about swordfish. I visited restaurants dotted along the shoreline and chatted with the chefs. I learned every single detail about pescespada.
I studied Italian with my classmates twice a week with the aforementioned Roberto who couldn’t speak a word of English and it was much more entertaining that way. I had never seen someone gesture as wildly as he did during those lessons , we were always afraid he was going to knock something over! Roberto was so enthusiastic and what he lacked in professional teaching methods, he made up for in wild abandon in sharing everything he knew about his language. We didn’t have proper desks because we took our lessons in front of the pizza oven and kitchen workspace of the Colella’s family restaurant and Roberto would just weave in and out of our awkwardly placed seats like a practiced Roman during high tourist season in Campo de’ Fiori. While I didn’t improve my Italian skills, I definitely improved my live translating skills and appreciation for visual communication.
However, despite all of our best intentions and as if it isn’t intuitive enough, most of the time we spent eating. We ate seafood just fished from the waters surrounding the island and drank wine made from 0km grapes. We sat together, my classmates and I, and talked and laughed and reminisced. We talked about how close we were to the end- one more year and we would be pharmacists, for some it would be a second degree, for others it was still a stepping stone to bigger and better things: business, medicine, law even. We’ve been in school forever, we murmured, a little drunk on wine mixed with the Italian sunshine. Yet I felt like there was a shared feeling that summer, as if no one wanted the course to end, or maybe, it was just me that never wanted Italy to end.
...to be continued. Chapter 4 coming Thursday, April 23, 2020.
This Sweet Life: Chapter Two
This Sweet Life: Chapter One
This Sweet Life: Prologue
8 years ago
The letter arrived exactly like is does in the movies, in a big, off-beige, rectangular envelope. As soon as I fished it out of the mailbox, I could feel its weight and I knew it was full of my future. I had been accepted to pharmacy school and what’s more, the acceptance meant the next four years of my life were occupied. I know what you’re thinking here. Why on earth would I want to go into pharmacy school when I could have just finished my degree and then hop on the next plane to il bel paese? I also know it seems like a fall-back, a Plan B to medical school, second best, a condolence prize of sorts. I’ll admit it, it was, but not in the obvious way. I had already made up my mind about wanting to eventually live in Italy, and while I’m a self-proclaimed dreamer, I couldn’t help but to succumb to a bit of rational thinking. I chose pharmacy because I thought that it would be a fantastic Plan B if, and only if, my hypothetical dolce vita became not-so-dolce and I needed to return to Canada and not be homeless. There was just one, wee problem with this brilliant plan of mine. Massi would be in Italy and I would be 8000km away for a rather significant amount of time. When I told him I wanted to do it, that I had made up my mind, he was fully supportive which made the whole situation even worse. Part of me wished he had talked me out of it, sent passionate letters about how love would be enough and bought me a one-way ticket right then. But he didn’t. Massi had just received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering and his picture is probably featured right underneath the dictionary definition of “logical”. We both knew that it was the right thing for me to do. So for the next four years, I buried my head in textbooks and dreamed dreams of dancing insulin ratios and nightmares of pharmacokinetics calculations gone awry. The first year, we were fortunate because Italy and Canada are diplomatic friends, thus there is a cultural youth exchange working holiday program offered for Italians to stay one year in Canada and vice versa. The paperwork for this is fairly simple and there is a non-existent chance of being rejected for the visa. Half-way through my very first semester, my Italian boyfriend made his grand return to work and live in the city that he had never even heard of just one year ago.
Remember me saying I’m a tad on the nerdy side? Well I took my four-year pharmacy degree sentence as an opportunity to work on my Italian just like I had promised myself. Prior to entering pharmacy, I had been studying Russian as a minor (again with the nerdy). I knew how effective universities were at teaching modern languages; the amount of hours involved, the written and oral examinations and class presentations, the sheer bravura of the professors was enough to set you up extremely well in any language. Two years of Russian had proven it during my Trans-Siberian railway voyage, albeit the vodka adjunct helped. Convinced that I could learn drugs and the world’s most romantic language simultaneously, I immediately cancelled the Cyrillic alphabet from my brain and started to try to roll my Rs and sing every Italian word I was speaking. I once had a Spanish teacher tell me that people learn languages for one of two reasons: for survival or for love. At the time, I thought this was one of the most profound and true statements I had ever heard. By the way, as a sidenote, never try to take Spanish if you’re new to Italian as a second language. You will inevitably start speaking a strange hybrid of the two languages and messing up in both of them.
Through pharmacy school, I had a grand total of five Italian teachers, none of which included Massi. We soon found out that speaking your native language does not equal knowing your native language. I would often ask him homework questions such as “why do I have to use the subjunctive after this?” and his response would be “boh, suona meglio”, I don’t know, it sounds better. There is nothing more frustrating than an answer like this when you are in the throes of language learning. My first teacher was a soft-spoken Calabrian lady which seems like it should be an oxymoron. Francesca had moved to Edmonton more than twenty years ago but still had that strong, Southern Italian accent that gave her away. She taught an adult continuing education course of Italian, the kind that pre-retirees take three evenings a week to “prepare” for their upcoming 13 night/14 day “Italian Glory” organized tour, the kind where you come out of it with the speaking capabilities of a three-year old but you can pat yourself on the back for being able to order a gelato amongst the throngs of the “other” tourists. No one wants to be part of the “other” tourists, also known as “those” tourists. And so my first baby steps into the world of the Italian language were made with Francesca’s help, three nights a week and I emerged with the basics and the uncanny ability to tell people my name and nationality.
The university courses are what took me to the next level. They were almost every day of the week, the exposure was a requirement for learning the language. My first two semesters of Italian were with a young professor named Karen whose last name rhymed with “cannolo” (a famous Sicilian dessert). She didn’t have an Italian accent but that made her all the more endearing because it meant she was like me, that she had been born here and eventually learned Italian as a second language. Karen symbolized the fact that as impossible a task as Italian seemed to be, it was possible. She was like a kindergarten teacher, insanely kind-hearted and non-intimidating, I never felt like an idiot in her classes even making elementary mistakes. She taught fun lessons on Italian swears and told us anecdotes about her years studying abroad in Italy and how her classmate, at the end of one semester, had learned only one Italian phrase: ho bevuto troppo ieri sera, I drank too much yesterday night. We all laughed out loud and inwardly, I was thinking, I cannot get stuck at that level.
So I kept pushing. After the first year of taking Italian was when I started pharmacy school. Pharmacy, like most professional programs, has a schedule of classes that are set in stone and that are already a heavy load of coursework. There were absolutely no free spots for Italian. I was devastated. I had just gotten the momentum going and was already at a conversational level, I didn’t want to stop. I went to the Department of Modern Languages to ask about options, if I could be permitted to enroll in a course even if there were timetable conflicts with my pharmacy courses. The department was willing to work with me, I just had to get approval from the Faculty of Pharmacy. I got the approval and soon, I was running like a true “studentessa matta” from a pharmacokinetics lecture across campus to my Italian lessons. Sometimes I missed one or the other. Some days, I stayed late on campus to make up an Italian quiz or exam, other times, I would get the pharmacy notes from my friends.
My third university professor was Patrizia from Padova. She was head of the Italian language department and for good reason- professional, precise, and a perfectionist, Patrizia was the kind of teacher that you need for second-year Italian. She was meant to weed out the serious learners from the ones there for fun. In fact, by the time I got to second semester of second-year Italian, the class sizes had gone down dramatically as all of the Arts students who were required to take a second language course had already fulfilled their credits. My classmates and I were the leftovers, but we all shared something in common: a love of Italian. The reasons varied, the majority were first or second generation children of Italian parents who never taught them the language. I was the only Asian left and the probably the only one that was trying to learn it with the eventual goal of moving to Italy. I was also probably the only one without the innate ability to roll Rs. After all this time, I still haven’t discovered this hidden talent, but I know it’s in me, or at least, that’s what YouTube tutorials insist.
Anselmi was the last name of my last university professor and he taught his classes for Italian and Italian Culture completely…in Italian. Once you had reached Anselmi’s lectures, well, you were in the Big Leagues. Now, it seems like a huge feat to go from Italian 101 to taking classes taught in the language that you didn’t know just four semesters ago, but on a university timeline, it was a natural progression. Anselmi was one of those professors that you just knew was important. I couldn’t personally pinpoint exactly why, but I later discovered that he has his own Wikipedia page, self-written perhaps, but important sounding all the same. He would breeze into the dusty, old arts classrooms in a cloud of cigarette smoke, hand-rolled if I had to guess. I can’t describe his clothing anymore, physical appearances were trivial to him although I felt like he took particular pride in his shoulder-length pepper hair, always tousled and knotty. You could almost picture this professor sitting with an oil-lamp, literally burning the midnight oil, running his hands through that mop of hair, chain-smoking, and writing significant dissertations on neoavanguardia Italian poetry. One of his courses focused entirely on interpretation of lyrics written by singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André, every time I hear an Italian song now, I immediately look for metaphors about prostitution and pacifism. He was far from my favourite Italian teacher through the years, but the most real, with an unwavering passion for Italian literature, poetry, and music. To this day, I have a very keen and trained ear for lyrics that surprises even my husband at times. That was four Italian teachers out of five so far. The fifth was a fellow named Roberto, between third and fourth year pharmacy, on the southern Italian island of Ischia.
...to be continued. Chapter 3 coming Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
This Sweet Life: Chapter One
This Sweet Life: Prologue
Chapter One: The Meet Cute
Nine Years Ago
A meet cute, in case you haven’t seen The Holiday (which means you should probably stop reading my book), is the moment when two fictional characters in a film meet for the first time in an adorable and serendipitous way leading to an inevitable romance and happily ever after. I met my fate one hot summer night almost nine years ago in Edmonton. I was nineteen, about to turn twenty, and obsessed with Europe. By obsessed with Europe, I mean that I had already done a couple summers of backpacking with a Eurail pass in one hand and either a) a bottle of wine or b) a baguette, in the other. Admittedly the only thing I brought back to Canada with me at the end of all these trips was an insatiable predilection for foreign accents and cheeses that I couldn’t pronounce. I was never biased to one accent in particular, nor was I impartial to a specific European look and I never set my sights on Italian boys. Italy was one of the countries I had skipped during my travels and as I’m writing this, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman comes to mind, chastising me with “Big mistake, big. Huge!”.
Heading back to the hot summer night, I remember everything in bits and pieces. This was due to the fact that the reason my girlfriends and I were out on the town in the first place was because it was the last “ladies’ night” at one of the more classy clubs in town, aptly called The Bank, which I would later find out was stolen from the official one in Las Vegas. A legislation had been passed which prohibited the selling of highballs for less than a certain amount when you could previously have had a lovely night by showing up with a loonie (our funnily-named one dollar coin in Canada), thank you very much. So we all gathered for this final send-off when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my future husband. He might have well been carrying a plate of pasta and gesticulating frantically, that’s how easy it was to pin-point his Italian-ness. I know that sounds highly stereotypical, but I’ll paint the picture: tall, skinny but in that perfect, muscular way that European men tend to prefer, long, dark hair pulled into a man-bun before it even existed in North America, white pants, and a black button-up shirt unbuttoned just enough to glimpse a gold cross on a chain. But what gives an Italian man away the most, is their inherent sense of self-confidence that radiates in a room. And of course, there’s a fine balance between confidence and arrogance. I perceived confidence and he essentially had me at the white pants. I watched him creepily in a bizarre change of roles- me, the local, and him, the intriguing foreigner. By sheer luck, my friends and I ended up asking one of his friends to take our picture and that resulted in our meet cute. We spent the rest of the night chatting innocently enough and exchanged numbers. I found out that his name was Massimiliano, which is quite amusing to attempt to pronounce for the first time while drunk on 25 cent cocktails. He was in my city doing research at the University of Alberta to complete his Master’s thesis and fortunately enough, that summer I was also on campus taking Stats. We agreed to meet for donairs the next day during lunch break and in looking back, that casual garlic-breath infused lunch date marked the beginning of the end. The end of the all-American dream.
“Signori e signore, benvenuti a Milano…” the sing-song of Italian blasted in my ears as I had fallen asleep for almost the entirety of my flight from London to Milan. I had so hoped to arrive fresh and bright-eyed but I could already tell that I had drooled the blush away on one side of my face and was probably more reminiscent of a racoon than my usual self. Luckily, my hair was intact after going through my dry shampoo routine in Heathrow. I had all the preconceived notions of passengers strutting off to baggage claim in Milan, looking like Armani models and I wanted to fit in. I was in Italy for the first time and meeting Massi after almost two months apart. He finished his thesis work in December and returned to Italy shortly before Christmas while I had to wait impatiently until Reading Week to reunite with this person that I had fallen hard and fast for. Up until now, I could define our relationship as a summer romance and I was taking this trip to answer the question “what if…?”. What if this was it, the so-called “uomo della mia vita”, the man of my life as the Italians say? This is a bit premature in my story to start rambling off with Italian phrases though, during this trip, I knew all of two words “ciao” and “grazie” and I was hoping it would suffice to at least get me through customs and into the arms of my unofficial translator and trans-Atlantic boyfriend. It wasn’t. Fifty minutes after getting off the plane and staring at the luggage belt, it became evident that somewhere between Canada and Italy, my beloved baggage had taken a detour. I couldn’t even pat myself on the back for being such a seasoned traveller because I had broke the cardinal jet-set rule of always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. Conveniently, mine was packed with books and dry shampoo. So while I was underwear-less for the next ten days, at least my hair would be Pantene perfect! I hobbled over to the lost luggage claims area, clinging to the idealistic hope that English is known the world over, or at least in airports the world over. Let me tell you folks, it is not. But luckily the Italians speak two languages: Italian and hand gestures and we managed with the second just fine. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown due to a combination of the anticipation of our reunion and my lost luggage catastrophe. I wouldn’t have defined it as catastrophic except that my visit happened to fall on Valentine’s Day and my red satin dress risked missing the curtain call.
Luggage-less, I walked up to the sliding doors and blinked as I felt the sudden whoosh of air against my face. When I opened them again, I was standing in front of this familiar stranger. A face and a smile that I knew from a different world, when our surroundings were my comfort zone and the language was my own. I kissed him which is always a bold move after you’ve been travelling for over 14 hours but seems almost obligatory at airport arrivals, if not for yourself, then to add to the romance of it all for everyone else. He tasted like beer, I remember it distinctly. Poor thing had been waiting for over an hour past my estimated arrival and he ended up passing the time by drinking. I still have the hunch that it was also partly to calm his nerves because if they were like mine, they were probably off the charts. My heart was beating out of my chest, the kind of beating where you become sub-conscious that the people around you can actually hear it. Unless you have been in my position, one-half of a long-distance relationship, it’s hard to describe the sensation of being in the presence of a person whose pixelated face you know like the back of your hand but that is completely foreign in flesh and blood. Our relationship the last few months was entirely reliant on Skype and emails and in this way, you form an exceptionally deep emotional connection but face-to-face, I could feel a disconnect between the physical and emotional. I needed to bridge that disconnect immediately, so I took my shaking hand and gripped his, and together we walked out of the airport and into the Italian night. It seems bizarre, but it felt like coming home. When I finally pulled back the covers to sleep that night, there was a handwritten note from Massi on the pillow:
Benvenuta a casa piccola. Welcome home little one.
I once read a survey that said after vacationing in Italy, 110% of people responded that they wanted to move there, myself included. I was seduced by Italy like so many young, single-ish girls are. I think I’ve also realized where the whole idea of the Latin lover comes from, why Italians are carriers of this stereotype. It’s because they have an asse nella manica, an ace up their sleeve, and her name is Italy. Italian men have to put in little to no work because the country does all the heavy lifting. They say you never forget your first time and boy is that the truth about Italy! Massi took me on a condensed tour around Northern Italy- Lake Como at sunset, Venice during Carnivale, Milan, and of course, Bergamo. It is highly likely that I consumed my weight in pasta that trip and couldn’t have been happier. I stayed with his parents, in his older sister’s room, and wore her entire wardrobe while waiting for my lost suitcase that eventually arrived when it was least needed. Massi’s mother, Paola, was the female version of him- tall, elegant, with hazel eyes and long lashes and mane of curly golden hair. She would smile at me constantly and we both looked at each other like complete wordless fools for ten days due to her lack of English and my lack of Italian. Massi’s father, Giovanni, is a typical bergamasco (the name for a native of Bergamo), on the stockier side with a square jaw and icy-blue eyes and a disposition to match. The only thing that gave away his softer side were the laugh lines that curved almost up to his forehead and all the way to his ears. I liked them immediately because they used food to convey love, just like my Chinese family does. However, I hated the fact that I couldn’t communicate with them.
What I felt during this initial stay in Italy was not shame or embarrassment or frustration even…no, it was a sense of wonderment and of curiosity. I wanted to know the people that had raised the one human being that I had fallen head over heels in love with. These two smiling strangers who brought up the person that I was already contemplating throwing it all away for- a life in Canada that my immigrant grandparents had worked so hard for, the familiar streets of my hometown, friends and family. Yet I wanted to know them, not superficially in the way you can through constant gestures, each time hoping that the integrity of your words and intentions come across by whomever was acting as translator at the moment. And so this hazel-eyed Italian and the quest to form a relationship with his parents is what spurred me on through what happened next. I was supposed to be starting my final year of my Biological Sciences Bachelor’s degree that autumn, but ten days in Italy had planted a whole new plan in my head.
...to be continued. Chapter 2 coming Thursday, April 16th, 2020.
This Sweet Life: Prologue
Every year, there are books released about Italy. Odes to the people, places, and food that make this country so beloved. No one knows better than yours truly, the difficulty in choosing the right book or in staying up-to-date with the latest releases. I wanted to compile a list of four books that have recently been brought to my attention and that I think would be perfect for the Italy lover in your life (that includes YOU of course!).
1. Always Italy by Frances Mayes and Ondine Cohane
In this lavishly illustrated guide, international bestselling author Frances Mayes teams up with New York Times travel writer Ondine Cohane to reveal the inside secrets of a magical country. Featuring all 20 iconic regions, Always Italy (National Geographic; March 31, 2020; $35.00 U.S.; ISBN: 978-1-4262-2091-3; hardcover; 416 pages; 375 photographs) reveals the best places to stay, eat and tour, paired with the rich history of each city, hillside town and unique terrain.
Filled with authentic insights and tried-and-true recommendations, Mayes and Cohane offer the ultimate insider’s tour of Italy’s little-known gems, off-the-beaten-path destinations and one-of-a-kind experiences. Here are the country’s most alluring cities, beaches, vineyards, hotels, hiking trails, galleries, spas and cuisine, illustrated with more than 300 glorious photographs.
No matter which part of Italy appeals, this utterly unique and comprehensive guidebook holds an array of insider recommendations, including:
The perfect gift for armchair travelers or those planning their next vacation, Always Italy is the ultimate guide to experiencing la dolce vita.
You can purchase Always Italy on Amazon and from any major book retailers.
2. Devour Tours Cookbook
Devour Tours has recently released their very first cookbook as a way of remaining connected to their mission amidst this very unique situation which has seen them have to put their tours on hold. In their own words:
Although we’ve had to put our tours on hold, our goal is always to deliver on our mission:
To connect curious travelers to local food and people in a way that helps culture thrive.
We might not be able to do this in-person at the moment, but the opportunities to keep devouring are endless. And we decided for our first project we'd create an in-depth, personal cookbook with recipes from our team of staff, guides and vendors. We want to continue to unite the world around food, through cooking our team's favorites from each of our tour cities.
The Devour Tours cookbook includes 52 recipes from our eight tour destinations: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, San Sebastian, Paris, Rome, Lisbon, and London. From Rome, there are 8 recipes for classic Roman dishes, including 4 that my friend Abbie (@abbiestark) translated directly from her mother-in-law’s family recipes.
You can purchase the Devour Tours cookbook here and if you make a recipe, tag using #DevourCooks on social media.
3. Lost Venice by Sarah Hadley
In Lost Venice (Damiani) photographer Sarah Hadley presents an alluring and haunting portrayal of this majestic city as distilled through her personal lens of loss and nostalgia. By contemplating the temporal beauty of Venice, Hadley examines our own impermanence and the uncertain future of this unique city.
Hadley's love of Venice was nurtured by her childhood spent living in an apartment above the Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, where her father served as the Museum's Director. Designed to look like a Venetian palazzo, the building reflected her father's passion for Italian Renaissance art and architecture, which Hadley would later embrace.
In Lost Venice, Hadley's photographs guide us on a journey through foggy days and veiled nights through the mysterious hidden corners of the city and outlying islands, all the while examining her deep connection with this opulent and mythic place.
Hadley studied Art History and Italian at Georgetown University and Photography at the Corcoran College of Art and lived in Venice for several years in her twenties. She has been a fine art photographer for over 25 years. Her award-winning work has been exhibited in museums, galleries and institutions in the US, as well as in international fairs and festivals in Europe and Asia. She was named as one of the "Jeunes Talents" by Le Monde in 2015 and her work has been featured in ELLE Italia, B+W Magazine (UK), L'Oeil de la Photographie and in magazines and blogs worldwide.
More about the book available here - http://sarahhadley.com/lost-venice-book,
More images from the project available here - http://sarahhadley.com/lost-venice
4. Cucina Tipica by Andrew Cotto
Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure is the story of Jacoby Pines, a disheartened American who arrives in Italy on holiday, and decides he never wants to leave. What follows is a wine-soaked, food-filled, travel-laden adventure about one man’s quest for an antiquated existence in the modern world.
"Any reader with a passion for food, wine, literature, and, most of all, the streets of Florence, will find the release of Andrew Cotto's latest novel, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure, a rare delight to the senses and intellect." –The Brooklyn Rail
Andrew Cotto is the award-winning author of three novels. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Men's Journal, The Huffington Post, Italy magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, TASTE, and Parade. Andrew has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. More about the author can be found at andrewcotto.com
You can purchase Cucina Tipica on Amazon and from any major book retailers.
5. Wander(lust) by Jasmine Mah
My debut book idea came from Sex and The City. How you ask? I had always wanted to write a book and like many aspiring writers, had started a variety of versions of said book without ever finishing them. But then it dawned on me that my blog contains years and years of writing, much like Carrie's column. So I decided to compile my creative writing posts into a book and this was the result:
Travel through memories of first love and heartbreak set around the globe in places like iconic New York City in the morning and Rome at twilight. This collection of wanderlust-filled moments captured in words will satisfy anyone who has ever loved and lost a person, a city, or another life.
Make sure to also check out the podcast as well, where myself, along with friends from around the world, read the stories in the book. Podcast link here: Letters From a Wanderer.
You can purchase Wander(lust): Letters From a Wanderer on Amazon and from any major book retailers.
Search the blog:
(I suggest "Italian Men" or "wine" but that's just me!)
Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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