Why Italy is the First Love of My Life

I am someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, so when my sophomore year French teacher recommended that I put my French education on hold for a while, I decided to see what my high school’s Italian program had to offer. As I navigated my junior and senior years of high school, I would always look forward to my Italian classes. My teacher, Profe Pirog, was enthusiastic about teaching and continues to inspire her students to learn more about the language and culture of Italy every day. Her classroom never failed to be warm and inviting, and every student in her classes, even those that were “too cool for school,” would come to life in her presence and allow Italy’s charm to get through to them.

Image Source

I firmly believe that my French education had to fail for my Italian education to begin. The only problem with this is the fact that I have never been to Italy. With the obvious goal of visiting the country I could talk about forever, I have taken up an Italian minor since high school, and I am saving all that I can to eventually study abroad.

Image Source

The Italian language has acted as a gateway to several other aspects of Italy’s unique culture for me. So many beautiful movies, song lyrics and pieces of art have been brought to life for me through Italian language and culture. One of the very first experiences in which I knew Italy was special to me came to me while engrossed in Luca Guadagnino’s film Call Me by Your Name. This film, its cinematography, the power conveyed by the actors, the soundtrack and the setting it took place in stuck with me in a way no other film has. I fell in love with Italy even more through this movie, but not the Italy that’s been matted down by tourist footsteps over the years. This movie portrays the reality of life in a small town somewhere in Northern Italy.

Image Source

I have a sliver of Italian heritage from my father’s side of the family, so growing up partially Italian, I can remember breezy summer evenings spent listening to the iconic voices of Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra, while the scent of my Irish mother’s praise-worthy meatballs drifted throughout the house. I was exposed to all of the parmesans. Eggplant, chicken, shrimp - you name it.

Having this exposure from a young age, food was something I always looked forward to; I mean, don’t we all? I would take every chance I could to go to the grocery store and imagine all the dishes I could make. When I was in elementary school, I had a subscription to Rachael Ray’s magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. I would always take a stab at new recipes I found, and I will never be able to thank my family enough for eating whatever it was I made, no matter how unappetizing it seemed.

Image Source

Although my very first job was at a small, family-owned pizzeria, my favorite experience with Italian cuisine so far has been cooking Christmas Eve dinner with my mom. As soon as I was able, my mother and I would bond over cooking the seven fishes traditionally served the night before Christmas in the Italian culture. It is though Italian cuisine that I have enjoyed creating relationships and exploring flavors.

Image Source

For what seems like forever, Italy has been “it” for me. Italian food is what I love, Italian language is what I have a passion for learning, and its scenery is awe-inspiring. Idolizing illustration from Michelangelo, Bernini, and Da Vinci, I have plastered my walls with snippets of pictures and language from the Boot, looking eagerly forward to December, when I will finally meet Italy in all Her majesty.