It’s official: I’m no longer an American writing about living in the glacier capped mountains of Italy. On the first day of autumn I legally became an Italian citizen. Given the fact that the economic and political situation in Italy is in a continuous spiral downwards, I can’t help but think that the date is also symbolic. However, I’d rather think that it represents a new beginning, a new season of my life.
Now that I’m Italian, I’d like to tell you that I speak with a perfect Italian accent, that I can match my shoes with my belt, and that I can recognize the hill that a certain grape grew on by sipping a glass of wine. Unfortunately, none of that is true. The only change I’ve noticed is that I’ve started wagging my finger in front of my face like an Italian. When a true Italian wags their finger, their hand doesn’t move at all and their index finger moves back and forth. It’s like they are saying “nononono no no” with their finger while they continue talking . I’ve lived here for four years, but only today did I catch myself doing a perfect finger wag. It must be the citizenship.
I have realized that I am Italian in the sense that I can lament with them about the state of Italy: the mind boggling beaurocracy, the ever increasing taxes, the never ending fees, the over complicated and confusing laws, the postal workers who refuse to deliver packages, and so on. Being a self-employed artisan who lives on the side of a mountain, I deeply feel the economic recession, and I can commiserate with the best of them. Even though I speak with a strong foreign accent, I am in “the club” of people who understand the struggles of dealing with the battles of everyday life. In Italy, you have to fight tooth and nail for every little thing. As beautiful as this country is, as good as the food and wine are, and as wonderful as the people are, living in Italy is hard. Really, really hard. Somehow I love it anyways.
On the other hand, I will always be the American who lives in the village of Charvensod. While I speak Italian quite fluently, I will always have a foreign twang, and I’ll always look like my eastern European heritage. No one will ever mistake me for a native Italian, and I’m fine with that. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that for the rest of my life, I am free to live in the United States or the European Union. I hope that wherever I live , I’ll be able to bring the best parts of both of my homelands into my life.