My Italian Grandparents

Article by Michelle Vaughan

Growing up Italian was probably the best experience, and I owe it all to my Nonno and Nonna. Both of my grandparents grew up in Italy and came over to America in their teenage years, and with nothing but change in their pockets, they made a life here. I got lucky because I got them as my grandparents. As I grew up, I got to taste and experience real ethnic Italian food which changed my outlook on restaurants like Olive Garden because it just isn't the same as a home cooked meal from my Nonna.

I once told my Nonna that if I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be her white spaghetti with hot pepper followed by her chicken parm. I don't know what it is, but nothing can compare to her meal. The smell of the zucchini flowers is my favorite smell. I wait every year until mid August when they are ready to eat, and my nonna always makes sure to send me extra when I leave their house because she knows they are my favorite and how much I love them. 

They are the stereotypical Italian grandparents that you hear about. They pile food on top of your plate, saying “Let me do it” and “No no, eat more, eat!” and of course I always do, just to see the smile on their face because they know I'm enjoying the food. My Nonno, who is 87 but still acts like a 50 year old, is energetic and always down to throw back a glass of wine with you. He is also filled with stories from his childhood in Italy which always interest me. While telling a story, he will put his foot on the chair and say “See the boot? I am from here and Nonna was all the way over here.” He uses his foot to indicate the boot shape that Italy holds, which always makes me laugh.

He is very proud of his garden and his grape vine. He works so hard to make sure his tomatoes and basil are in tip top shape. Nothing makes me happier than going to see my grandparents. Their warm smiles and open arms make time freeze. Spending time with them and growing up Italian really showed me how to appreciate my Italian heritage a lot more.