When I was 15 years old I went on a high school trip to Italy where I thought I would find an Italian boyfriend. I didn’t. But little did I know that 5 years later my wish would come true while I was studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, of all places! Francesco was studying in an intensive English program there, and one night we just happened to meet in a very cute way (read below!). What we both thought would be just a summer fling has become a strong, committed long-distance relationship.
Curator's comment: If only I had a dime for every time someone said "I thought it would just be a summer fling...!".
Where are you from and where is your significant other from?
I’m originally from California, but currently living on the East Coast and studying in New York. My boyfriend, Francesco, is from Genova, Italy.
Where and when did you meet your significant other?
Okay, so this is really cute, dare I say, cinematic. I was studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland a couple summers ago. A few weeks into the program, a couple friends and I went to a Ceili, which is a traditional Irish social dance. They have live traditional Irish music and a “caller,” who teaches everyone the steps beforehand and then calls them out as you dance. It requires you to have a partner, so I looked across the room and immediately met Francesco’s eye and asked him to dance with me. I later found out that he had only come that night to watch and had no intention of actually dancing. He just couldn’t say no to me.
If you've seen the movie Brooklyn, the protagonist also goes to a Ceili where she too meets her Italian love interest! I like to joke that my life is a combination of Brooklyn and The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Anyways, I felt so strongly about him that I changed my flight home so as to visit him in Italy before returning to the States. The rest is history!
Curator's comment: Welcome to the club Daria, where we are all living some hybrid version of Brooklyn, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and Under The Tuscan Sun. Oh, we forgot to throw some Letters to Juliet in there too!
Who made the first move?
It’s a little hard to say… I asked him to dance, but then he offered to buy me a beer. I said no thanks, simply because I don’t like beer, which I think he took as a rejection of him at first. Then later on I asked him to dance with me again, which led him to directly ask me out at the end of the night. I remember thinking it was so cute how he asked, “Would you like to see each other again?” American dudes would never say it like that! So polite and cute.
Where did you think he was initially from?
Well, it was clear that he wasn’t Irish, I’ll tell you that! There were actually mostly foreigners at the Ceili dance (and in Dublin in the summer in general), so I was expecting to meet people from all over. Because of his coloring I assumed he was probably Italian or Spanish.
What was your first impression of him?
I thought he was soft-spoken, shy, and sweet… He even jokes that he’s not your typical Italian because of how quiet he is! But there’s a goofball side to him that he only lets me see. My first impression was also that he was younger than his actual age, but don’t tell him I said that. He does have a baby face, but luckily he’s matured a bit since then!
Dish on the first kiss.
Ahh!! So one night in Dublin we went out to a pub. While we were watching the live band, he put his arm around me and was obviously wanting to kiss me, but I was just so nervous, I kept turning my face away! I felt bad though and definitely wanted to try again, so after I walked him to the train station I quickly gave him a peck to break the ice. He took the reigns from there.
Where do you live now?
I still live in the U.S. since I’m finishing up undergrad. We plan to eventually be together in one country or the other, hopefully within the foreseeable future. As of right now, there are a couple options up in the air, which is comforting. Of course, I’d love us to live together, but I also really do value having my own life and identity apart from him. Besides, at this point in my life I don’t think I’d even have time to date someone physically proximal to me. So for now a long-distance relationship is sort of the perfect compromise.
Have you learnt each other’s languages?
Francesco started learning English at 5 years old so he’s practically fluent (although I still have to explain slang words to him sometimes)! I started learning Italian soon after we got together. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve quickly become conversant in a year and a half! When you visit the country and you’re immersed in the language, you really pick it up fast. I also studied French for years and they’re similar linguistically. Additionally, his parents don’t speak much English so that kind of forces me to speak their language so we can communicate. When I’m home, I take weekly group lessons. There’s a big Italian community in New York, which helps me feel closer to Francesco and his culture even when he’s not here. I’m actually pretty darn good at Italian, but the real struggle is getting Francesco not to speak English! He’s so used to it now.
Curator's comment: As one of the hosts of Dolce Vita Bloggers, Kelly of Italian at Heart would say...Toot that horn girl!
Any advice to “mixed” culture couples or couples doing long-distance?
First of all, embrace it and be proud! It takes a certain kind of person and a certain kind of couple to commit to long-distance. I personally think it’s something to admire, but there will be haters. Your true friends will support you, but I’ve met random people who have reacted with condescension and skepticism to the fact that I’m in a long-distance relationship. Don’t let those jealous people get to you! They don’t know you and they don’t know your relationship. I recognize that it’s also a privilege to be able to maintain a long distance relationship, so I remember to be thankful that we’re together at all and that our families support us. Some days may be harder than others, but it is so worth it.
As for the culture bit, fully embrace your significant other’s culture, language, lifestyle, etc. It’s honestly a gift to be dating someone with a different worldview and perspective than you. You learn so much from each other. I feel like a better, more worldly person because of it! Embracing their culture can also help you feel closer to them when they’re not around. There are little things I do, like make coffee the Italian way or listen to Italian love songs, that cheer me up when I miss Francesco. Try to communicate every day and videochat at least once or twice a week. If possible, try not to leave each other without knowing the next time you’ll be together. Having that reunion to look forward to is important.
Submitted by Daria.
Here's how you can connect with Daria and Francesco:
Francesco's Instagram: @_._francesco_
Vi auguro tante belle cose. xoxo
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to "dare un'occhiata" at all of the Love Story Lunedì. There are now SIXTEEN amazing stories to read about 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.
Finally if you're a bit of a hopeless romantic, read ten very short stories which are now available as a cute collection in my first eBook: This Sweet Life. You can download it for FREE in my store! Or read the included pieces as individual posts:
Creative Writing: The Butterfly Effect
Creative Writing: The Letter R (Explicit)
Creative Writing: Dear Italy (A Love Letter)
Creative Writing: Airport Arrivals
Creative Writing: Tanqueray and You
Creative Writing: A Thousand Lives
Creative Writing: A Sunday Kind of Love
Creative Writing: Perfect Strangers in Switzerland
Creative Writing: Rooftops and Rome
Creative Writing: The Morning After in New York
Creative Writing: Mulberries in Sicily