Where are you from and where is your significant other from?
Hello, I'm from Fremantle in Western Australia and my partner Riccardo is from Bergamo Italy.
Where and when did you meet your significant other?
Riccardo and I met way back in 2006 in a hostel in London.
Actually in the laundry mat downstairs- very romantic right? Not! I was there watching my washing spin as I'd heard people steal your stuff, and he showed up with a guy who was maybe German and they were both trying to figure out how to use the machine, I looked up from my magazine and offered to help them both. They both spoke very little English.
The next morning at breakfast I saw him pass the table I was sat at with girls from my room and I invited him to join us - I wanted to make him feel welcome because that's always nice in a new place when you don't know anyone.
There was no immediate spark I just remember always thinking he was sweet and nice and feeling always comfortable and at ease with him.
I was in London by accident really, I'd been visiting relatives in Scotland and actually a guy I'd been dating in Oz was there and so I had gone to see him. Once in London, I fell in love with the place and didn't want to leave. Luckily through my parents, I also had a British passport and after looking into things, I stayed and started looking for work. Riccardo was there to improve his English and also find work.
We hung out on and off, checking out new places and even taking some day trips to nice places like Brighton and Covent Garden watching buskers and checking out cool marketplaces. We struggled to talk though with Riccardo's little amount of English, but we still managed to enjoy each other's company. I remember one nice girl from Canada with whom I'd shared a room tell me that we liked each other and I brushed it off. My mum even reminded me recently that at one point she had said "why aren't you guys dating?"- but hey, looks like they were right after all! We still laugh and joke to this day about the one time when we met for coffee and a wander and I spent what felt like more then a half-hour trying to explain to him that I'd gotten a job as a nanny. Drawing, signing, trying alternative wording... to no avail!
Who made the first move?
Hmmm good question.....I guess in the end it was me! Six or so years later after many shitty failed relationships, I had moved back to Oz by the end of that year we had met due to losing two family members and Riccardo continued to travel and work all over the place improving his English slowly but surely. We always stayed in touch, even if sometimes we went awhile without hearing from each other. I always remember feeling excited and happy to hear from him and it was always so nice that he seemed to care so much about how I was and would ask after my family as well, which meant a lot to me. Slowly, slowly his emails got longer and longer and conversation was much easier for us and as well, technology was forever improving, with Facebook and Skype being handy, and sometimes we even made plans and would call each other too.
I remember while I lived in London, I spent a few weeks in America with family and I called him while I was there. He was so pleased to hear from me, it was so nice!
Fast forward to me moving to Italy to 'give it a try' and be with him - and it was in that first week, we were cuddling on the couch and then I think we kissed. It was all rather awkward to start with, as you can imagine. We did things back to front but possibly for the better, not like most people - how you maybe meet in a club, thinking the other is good-looking and you like their moves on the dance floor and share a good kiss - but they turn out to be a 'beep head' as you get to know them or have absolutely nothing in common. We did it the other way around and knew we both liked a lot of the same things and wanted the same things in life and knew each other well, but had never kissed or held hands or anything. It was a big leap of faith and quite nerve-racking but we had disguised it in length to just keep it open and see how we went, either way we were good friends and there would be no obligation or hard feelings if one or both of us felt it wasn't working out. In the lead up to my big move, I think both of us were having intense loved-up feelings towards each other, so we couldn't wait to be together!
Where did you initially think he was from?
To be honest I don't think I had any clue, I think we all discussed where we were from so it was all out in the open quickly.
What was your first impression of him?
For me it was just that he seemed like a sweet, kinda shy but cool guy.
I asked Riccardo if he remembered what he thought of me and he goes "God baby I can't even remember what I did yesterday", he said he remembered I was a good-looking girl but he wasn't thinking "oh I'd like to settle down and have babies with her". (I'm just reading my story to him now - and we got to this part and are both rolling about laughing because we are 2 children in!).
Dish on the first kiss.
To be honest I don't remember exactly, but I remember we had been snuggling on the couch for the first time after a day out and about seeing where he lived and I was feeling happy. I think the next big intimate moment we both got a bit panicked and freaked out. And then luckily I think for the fact we had always been so comfortable and honest with each other we just stopped and snuggled for the night. Then the next day we just 'got back to basics' I remember we went down to the river for a bike ride and from there on everything was fine. I think throughout our whole relationship 'getting back to basics' and just chilling out together or doing something we like or going somewhere kinda fixes it all and relaxes us.
We now live in Bergamo, we have been here now for just over two years.
In the beginning, I came first to Italy (but up in Livigno, near Switzerland) as it was easier with my English passport and situation at the time. Boy was that a tough first year for me in so many ways. Not just starting a new relationship and immediately living together but in a foreign country, with a different language, a new job, very very cold temperatures like -30 and just huge cultural shock - in Freo you smile at people as you walk down the street, well that didn't really work out so well for me, people otherwise didn't look at me or gave me looks like I was a freak or that I was hitting on them - if it was a guy! Then we moved to Australia for 3 years (and did the whole very stressful expensive visa business so he could stay) and that is where we had our first beautiful son Luca. Then we decided to move back to Italy for awhile before he started primary school and would get all settled in and make friends - to see how we found life here and also for Riccardo's family to see Luca a bit and for Riccardo to get back a bit of his beloved mountains. I'm from the seaside so life is very different for us both in each other's hometowns. And now we have just had our second beautiful little boy Dylan a couple of months ago.
Curator's comment: I feel your pain on the smiling issue. I used to smile at every single person, I think I still do, which means I've hit on half of Bergamo. Glad I'm not alone in this. Congratulations on your newest little one!
Have you learnt each other’s languages?
Yes to an extent! Riccardo's English has hugely improved, and we only speak English together. Though we still argue A LOT and still misunderstand each other sometimes. I have learnt heaps of Italian now, on the street - so to speak. I'm still missing stuff but mainly the verbs are what I struggle with. I can kind of "make do and get by" - it helps if whoever I'm talking with is patient and wants to understand me. I think having a child and going to play group and the park often with him really helped my Italian but just to be immersed in the culture and surrounded by people, you pick up the language as you constantly hear the words they use - which is different to maybe the words you would think to use looking in the dictionary. Also English and Italian is basically back to front in how you put together sentences so that took me awhile to drop, as I was putting sentences together with Italian words in the English way if that makes sense! I understand a lot more then I speak, but I think I can safely say I'm always improving.
I'm really proud that our children will be bilingual as Riccardo only speaks Italian to them and I speak only English to them. As they are still little, they spend most of their time with me hearing English but being in Italy, I think they get a good balance of both languages as everyone else is speaking Italian to them. And Nonna's job is to teach them Bergamasco.
Any advice to “mixed” culture couples or couples doing long-distance?
To be honest, once our relationship started "in the flesh" so to speak we have almost never been separated, thank God! I think I would really suffer being away from him - and now with kids I think our oldest would be devastated to be away from his Daddy. I think that constant contact is important - to call and Skype and email and message each other regularly and always keep a photo of them nearby too (Riccardo says I'm half Japanese - as I love to take photos and record special memories)! I also think if a couple has come together from different countries and cultures already, that they must be open-minded and curious to learn about their loved one, and hopefully their families embrace them and are open-minded too.
How and when did you know it was true love?
Thinking back I think it was in those first 3 weeks of us being together. The day before he had to start back at work we had been for a bike ride in the sunshine and were laying by the stream relaxing, and he reminded me he had to go back to work the next day and I felt heartbroken. I didn't want to be away from him, I felt so sad and our feelings for each other so intense, so it must have been then.
The one thing you love most about him?
I don't know if I could pinpoint just one. I guess it's always stood out to me what a good man he is! He's honest and hard-working too, and also really creative and handy, and we make each other laugh. We also argue a LOT just for the record! I love that we are always on the same page about how we raise our children and also balance each other out in that too. Plus, I obviously find him much more attractive than when we met! I love that he loves music, and traveling like me and that he's a great and caring, fun father with our boys and also that he's not a heavy drinker (he actually doesn't drink at all). He's also a great cook and likes my cooking and sweet desserts as well. Even though he's not so romantic or affectionate on a daily basis as much as I would like, when he is romantic or surprises me - he really blows me away. I can feel it comes from the heart and that's something really special and makes up for it.
How did he propose?
I've always dreamed of getting married to my true love. But Riccardo, for quite a few reasons, is not the type. He always reassures me it's like we are married because he doesn't plan to leave me and we have a family together but to me it's not quite the same, that special day and the commitment you make together is something really special to me. I hope one day soon he will change his mind. I did however, ask him if I was to ever propose would he say yes and he said he would prefer to be the one to ask.... so here's to me waiting (all my fingers and toes are crossed). I think I also said something along the lines of "well if both our immediate families are ever in the same place at the same time then I'd definitely propose". Side note: I'd even be happy to elope with our boys, but he already knows that. Weddings can be so expensive too, and I can see why. But the crappy part about being in a relationship with someone from the other side of the world means family and friends all have a long way to come where ever you decide to get hitched!
Curator's comment: *crosses fingers and toes*
Submitted by Rachel.
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 so many 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