Where are you from and where is your significant other from?
I’m from blue collar Cleveland, Ohio and Stefania is from the fashion capital, Milan, Italy. Unfortunately for her, we both very much embody our respective cities. So when we get dressed to go out to dinner it’s like we’re headed to two different joints. She’s headed to Officine Brera for Ossobuco and I’m headed to the corner for a Polish Boy. She’s slowly improving my wardrobe but it’s a struggle. Hearts and prayers.
Where and when did you meet your significant other?
Pretty much everyone made me feel stupid for studying Italian because it wasn’t practical. But studying that “useless” language got me my hot Italian wife. Take that, haters. We met on a pen-pal site where English speakers could learn from native Italian speakers and vice versa. One summer Stefi decided to tour California with her friend, Julia, who forced Stefi to reach out to me. I invited them to lunch and a tour of my workplace, 20th Century Fox. That was August 14th of 2007. I still have the drive-on pass confirmation email. I still owe Julia beer for making Stefi email me.
Who made the first move?
I was too gutless to make a move when I first met Stefi. She sent signals but they went way over my head, which has very much become the norm in our relationship. I fear that someday it might get me killed. Anyway, she went back to Italy and I thought that was that. It was a good six months later, and after a couple of dating disasters, that I sent her a text, in jest, but kinda serious, asking her to move to LA so I could date her. It sparked the conversation about our feeling for each other. Then in typical Italian fashion she busted my balls for waiting six months to ask her out. Busting my balls has also become a norm. Rompere le palle...
What was your first impression of her?
My first impression was that she was too good for me. And I was right.
Dish on the first kiss.
She came to visit me in December so, I had the house decked out for the holiday. I remember I had a “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” looped on the TV, muted, and was playing 70’s soul Christmas music, like the Donny Hathaway track (my favorite Christmas song). Our first kiss just captured Christmas eve nostalgia and excitement; white lights, ever greens and hope.
Have you learnt each other’s languages?
Stefi was already fluent in English before I met her (thank goodness) and I’m at an Intermediate Italian level. I’m actually still a bit shy when speaking Italian with her, which I think is both a good and bad thing. It’s like that guy who still sucks in his stomach when his wife sees him shirtless. There’s still some “first date” magic going on, but I have to get over it. Give me three months in Florence and I’ll be good. Besides, I’m way too fat to suck in my stomach.
Any advice to “mixed” culture couples or couples doing long-distance?
If it gets to the engagement phase, know that all of the governments involved are going to take your romance, drag it into a dark alley and beat the shit out it. Then if it survives that, you’ll then deal with the realization that you only really only knew each other during brief “best behavior” holidays and vacations. When real life kicks in you’ll either break up or you’ll fall in love for a second time. Work hard towards the second option. The struggle and adventure will give your love a bond unmatched by traditional marriages.
Submitted by Gregory.
Here's how you can connect with Gregory:
You can buy his book, Empire of Light which is a fantasy book about his first trip to Italy to track down the paintings of Caravaggio.
Find out more about the book on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmpireOfLight/
Greg also owns a company, The Department of Cinema and Power.
Official Site: www.cinemaandpower.com/
A huge, heartfelt thanks to Gregory and Stefania for sharing their love story with us.
Vi auguro tante belle cose. xoxo
I am so grateful to all the couples that have contributed to this series thusfar. Please make sure to share and spread the word, if you're reading this and your own life is a great love story or you know of one, send them my way!
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