Joining the soccer team here at John Cabot has brought me many great friends, American and Italian. For one of our first few practices here, an older Italian girl on the team, Roberta, offered to drive a me and a few girls that live in my building. Little did I know she would be one of the greatest and most treasured people I meet here in Italy. Her comfy, cramped car has been the setting of some crazy sing-alongs, a whole lot of laughter, several serious conversations, and of course in Rome lots of wrong turns. Robbie makes me feel at home here in Rome whether it be cooking meals on Valentines Day, or taking her puppy for a walk, and I wish more than anything I could bring her back to America. This past weekend I was lucky enough to travel back to Naples, the city where Robbie is from, to stay with her family and another friend from our team.
Words cannot describe how nice and comforting it was to be a part of a family for the weekend and to sleep in a home with a backyard, and dogs, and of course some of the best homemade Italian food I will probably ever eat. When we first arrived on Friday afternoon, we were welcomed by her mom and brother and a fully set table to accompany the gnocchi and meatballs cooking on the stove. What a pleasant surprise! I then accompanied Robbie to the dentist, a place I can’t seem to escape even in Italy. We then met back up with Haley (also American), her brothers, and puppies to watch the sunset on the beach. Being on the beach at dusk has a way to make me feel calm and peaceful like almost no other place in the world. With my shoes off and feet in the sand, the weekend was looking up. Before dinner, I joined Robbie and her parents at the kitchen table for some wine. With a lot of translation help, we managed to chat for a while about Robbie’s younger years and my background. Her father seemed to have to same sense of humor as mine and I was glad to see that apparently sarcasm has no language barriers. After another incredible meal and a few more glasses of wine, we retired to the couch to sit in the warmth brought by the fireplace and the family surrounding me.
The next morning the three of us set out to adventure into the city center of Naples (Robbie’s family lives in a small beach suburb outside the main city). Naples is beautiful in a similar way to Rome, with its small cobblestone alleyways enclosed by hanging laundry and rustic buildings. I was so grateful to be with a native who somewhat knew her way around, because Naples seems to be quite the confusing city. We enjoyed some pizza and funny conversation in a shop called the presidents daughter; the restaurant chosen because the head chef and owner was a woman. With Naples being the pizza capital of the world (and where it originated) I can say with complete honesty that the pizza was pretty life changing. The rest of the day was spent exploring the city, where each old coffee shop, nativity set shop, and talented street performer made Robbie’s eyes light up a little brighter. Between the beautiful day and the passionate tour guide Naples came to life right in front of my eyes. We then traveled home to eat dinner with her family, as Saturday was Father’s Day in Italy. Naples has a traditional pastry for Father’s Day called Zeppole di San Giuseppe which accompanied every meal we ate for the weekend, I kid you not I probably ate at least 10, oops!
After a long and fun night out on Saturday we slept in Sunday, only to wake up to fresh croissants spread with her mom’s homemade jam, made from the plum trees growing in their yard. Then after only about an hour and a half in between meals, we were joined by some more of Robbie’s extended family for a big Sunday lunch. This lunch could not have been more representative of a true Italian meal between the chaos from 4 dogs, the million amazing courses we were continuously served, and each member of the family yelling over the other to get their point across. Haley and I were lost for most of the conversations, but enjoyed sitting back, eating incredible food and watching the crazy dynamic of the family. I think people at the table were worried they were scaring us because of all the yelling, but there was nothing frightening about the bold Italian family in front of me, if anything I felt more at home than I have here so far.
The weekend was filled with some incredibly stimulating and intelligent conversations and I enjoyed the company of the girls so much, of course her cute Italian brothers did not hurt the situation. I felt so comfortable being myself and enjoyed watching Haley and Robbie do the same in expressing their opinions about controversial topics and giving advice about the crazy states that each of our lives are in right now. I am so appreciative that Robbie’s family was so welcoming and hospitable, qualities that I hold very close to my heart. All of this only made me more excited to see my brother in a few days and my parents in a few weeks (YAY)! I find that I picked up a decent amount of Italian this weekend even if most of it has to do with yelling at dogs, asking for a beer, and being thankful for meals so in light of my new language skills; arrivederci, caio ragazzi , e buona giornata!
Waldo Happily in Napoli