Ever since I read Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love, I’ve had a burning desire to live in Italy. (Yes, I loved both, so sue me.) I’ve visited a few times — Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terra — but this was 15 years ago and the trips weren’t long enough to absorb the culture.
When I think about Italy, I dream of stone kitchens, homemade bread and long dinners with wine. I dream about delicious espressos and walking among ruins. I dream about stone churches in bustling squares and women leaning out of second-story windows over flower pots. I dream about the blue ocean, and visiting nearby islands.
A. is half Italian — his mom is from Orsogna and moved to the U.S. when she was seven. She is the youngest of five, and she speaks Italian with her brothers and sisters. In their New Jersey home, above the stove, hangs the sign “Cucina.” When we visit, she asks C., “Dove la Cucina?” and he looks up and points to the sign. When A. makes C. spaghetti, he’ll say to him: “Mangia la pasta.”
Around the time C. was born, my MIL brought us Italian CDs. They’ve been sitting on our bookshelf, uncracked (I thought I’d have time on maternity leave, silly me).
But C. has had a fever since Friday and this morning it was a scary 104.2. The nurse at the pediatrician’s office told me to give him fluids and meds — and keep him cool and inside (it’s pushing 100 today). So I’ve read him a trillion books and we’ve played with trucks and blocks. He’s his usual funny self — he makes himself laugh and says, “Fun-ny.”
But I need inspiration to combat cabin fever, so I pulled out the Italian CDs and loaded the first one into my computer.
C. seemed a bit confused about counting in Italian (he just started counting to 10 in English), but he giggled when I put my hands out and exaggerated the pronunciation. And I had fun learning basic words, like macchina (car) and chiavi (keys).
Of course, the best way to learn is from the natives — like his nonna (grandma). And someday we’ll travel to Italy to show C. part of his heritage. I’m hoping we can live there for a few years so he can be fluent and we can explore Europe, but that’s far away. For now, dreaming — and practicing — keeps me happy while I’m trapped inside on a hot desert day.