In Another Life, I Was Italian

Part of Positano, Italy.
Part of Positano, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though I’ve traveled far and wide across these great United States a few times, I have never been to another country. I suppose you could say the time I went to Canada on a band/chorus high school field trip counts, but really it doesn’t. I could go to Canada just getting lost while hiking in my backyard.

My entire life I’ve had this gut feeling that I should’ve been born in Italy, not Maine. Maybe it’s because I love to eat pasta 24/7. Or because I drink wine 24/7. Or because I find myself spontaneously yelling out things like, “Prego!” or “Arrivederci!” to people while I’m at Walmart. In any case, I’ve never felt like I belonged in a place where fried clam strips are considered high cuisine or where moose outnumber people.

I blame the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. After seeing it for the 50th time, I’ve realized that I want to be Diane Lane. I should be the one in an abandoned delapitated villa. I should be freaking out during a lighning storm that fries my washer. I should be riding my bike through the winding ivy-covered cobblestone streets in a quaint Italian village, inhaling the salty air.

Oh, look, Sexy Italian Guy–it’s that plaid-clad girl from Maine again begging us for wine!

Sometimes in life you get certain signs. Little odd coincidences that really aren’t when you add them all up. Last week I was flipping through channels and was compelled to watch an old classic movie, Summertime, with the great Katherine Hepburn. I was mesmerized with the scenery, forget the story. I suppose there was something about a sauve Italian guy and maybe they met and fell in love, blahblahblah and then he gave her a Gardenia and she hopped a train back home to America, so sad, yadayadayada. All I could think while watching this movie was, Oh, Kate! Just look at you! Sitting there by the river, sipping your wine all by yourself, watching the flocks of birds swoop over the church as the bells toll. I want to do that. I belong there. Not here in the sticks of Maine. Although being surrounded by all that water is dangerous for someone like me. Kate figured that out the hard way.

The same day I watched Summertime,  I checked out Freshly Pressed, (something I never ever do), and for some reason clicked on a travel-themed post. It was all about Italy, specifically the town of Positano. It was like I’d died and gone to heaven reading this post. I drank in every word, savored every image and it only sparked my Italian obsession even more. Turns out, the little town the author wrote about was the exact location that parts of Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed. Say, what?! Then I knew, I just have to go there one day before I die.

Just a horrible place to visit, I’m sure.

I told my husband about it. “Hey, honey, guess what? For our 20th anniversary we are going to Positano, not Disney World, so I just thought I’d tell you now so we can start saving our money. Oh, and we’re going to eat prosciutto and drink wine and lay on the beach and drink wine. Then have some dark chocolate gelato with a dessert wine. Maybe ride a bike through the village laughing our heads off while drinking wine.”  Then I told him all about my lifelong obsession, all the dreams I’ve had that I’ve once lived there in a past life. He looked at me and said, “You’re nuts. We’ll do it.”

The only way to travel.

Deep in my heart, I know we will be sitting in an outdoor cafe in Positano eating eggplant parmesan and sipping Cabernet sauvignon someday.  If it’s not until I’m old and gray and down to one brain cell, so be it. This gives me plenty of time to figure out how to convert american cash to lira.  And get over my fear of flying over the ocean. And my fear of flying. And my fear of flight attendants. Also, how to take pictures without falling backward into rivers. And how to say in Italian, “Excuse me, can you please direct me to the abandoned villa that you’ll sell us for pennies so we can fix it up and live there forever? Oh, and where’s the wine?” In the meantime, I plan on finally seeing the movie Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. I’ve heard it’s good. I’ll make a huge pot of pasta, pour a glass of wine and dream.

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111 thoughts on “In Another Life, I Was Italian

  1. Oh my god oh my god. I need pasta. NOW. And a sponsored trip to Italy.

    And I think I’ll go watch ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ for the gazillionth time too.

  2. My closest college friend married in Sicily. In Taormina, specifically. We travelled from Torino (up near the Swiss Alps) all the way down through Rome and Florence and Pisa and lots of other tiny places in between. It. Was. Exquisite. I got to hang out with a handsome boy and, in his limited English and my limited Italian, we pointed to the moon. “Bella luna.” I said shyly. “Yes. Si” He agreed in Italian. Our lips knew what to do. Ugliest bridesmaid dress. Best. Wedding. Ever.

    When will you make 20 years?

    1. You were there? And your companion was a handsome boy? And you couldn’t communicate to each other with words? And could I be any more jealous? Is this experience in your upcoming book??

      We will hit 20 years in 8 years, so at least one of our kids will be in college by then. Figure it’s a good time to say See ya! to my kids for a week or two…

      1. That’s 100% real. 1990. I’m married 18 years this summer. I’d love to take Hubby to Italy, but he wouldn’t get it the way I did. Plus, I can’t have him undo that memory. No way. Love Hubby, but he isn’t adventurous enough for Italy in the summer.

    1. I liked Summertime, but the ending was a bit of a downer…just a lot of Kate waving and waving on that train. I’ve heard Roman Holiday is wonderful so I can’t wait to finally see it.

  3. I’ve only been to Italy once, Rome, I actually stayed in a town an hour away in a campsite by this stunning lake, lugging myself up the hill to the town each day.

    My European go to is always Spain, generally because it’s a bit nearer and cheaper.

    I hope you get there eventually!

    1. That sounds sooo nice, a campsite by a lake. I hope get there too one day, Joe. It really is the one place in the world I dream of going to. Well, that and Greece and Australia and Hawaii and Egypt…

      1. I went to Egypt and never saw any sights! Fly and flop holiday.

        I think Italy is just one of those places you cannot get a bad meal and that’s my best bit of holidays is gorging.

        1. Wow, you have been so many places, Joe. I have to say the food and wine is the main reason I want to go to Italy. Maine cuisine gets old real fast and besides, I don’t even like lobster.

          1. No lobster?! I love it but so expensive here. Right, Maine’s on my list of places to go for lobster now, and where Jessica Fletcher lives better be a real place, I want to got there.

            We benefit from cheap airlines flying to Europe and my pick of 5 airports so it’s pretty easy to grab a weekend break, don’t do it as much as I used to since other costs rose like not wanting to stay in hostels now I’m too old for those shenanigans and I like a bit more comfort now.

    1. Cheaper than Disney? I am sold. I was sold anyway. I’ve been to Disney many times and I am all Mickeyed out for now. I want to go someplace more romantic than Epcot’s Italy.

  4. Forget about Disney. Dress up like Mickey Mouse and take your kids to the local park for a few hours … it’s basically the same thing with much shorter lines and less aggravation. Go start planning your trip to Positano, pronto!

    1. Exactly! I can wait in long line with screaming kids at Walmart for a lot less money even. Your post about Italy was yet another reminder for me to start my dream vacation planning now (maybe by then they’ll have better bathrooms)

  5. Tell ya what–I’ve been a lot of places in the world but never Italy–and I am DYING to go. The town you mention sounds amazing. Now–I’m off to eat some pasta.

    By the way–gotta love that bike with the wine holder. Is that cool or what?

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    1. Oh, now you HAVE to go, Kathy! I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything negative about that area. The bike wine holder would be an issue for me. Either I get drunk and crash. Or I’d crash before I had a chance to drink it and break the bottle. Recipe for disaster.

  6. While living in Europe I learned that yes, Italy is the place to go. No matter what. You have: beautiful scenery, mountains, sea, art, architecture, history, cuisine. And Italians are the most welcoming people.

    Italy is also a great place to travel to with kids. My husband, son and I would go to nice restaurants and the waiters would take Jacob aside and play cards or marbles or something he liked while my husband and I enjoyed a little adult time (with our son in full view).

    It is a magical country. I will watch any movie set there repeatedly and buy any book with a picture of Italy on its cover. The best books always take place in Venice, my favorite city in Italy.

    Take me with you when you go!

    1. Back up, you lived there?! OH this is perfect. You can tell me where to go, what to see. But it would be better if you just came along with me. We could sip our wine and eat until we’re stuffed and gaze out at the water while the waiters took care of the kids (and husbands) Ahhhhhh!!! Yes…a magical time it would be!

      I’ve also heard the people there are amazing and friendly and just sweet as can be. The exact opposite of Maine. Haha!

      1. No, I lived in Switzerland, which is beautiful but very different.

        And I’d go to Italy with you in a heartbeat. It is truly the country I recommend to folks who will take one European trip in their lives. There is still so much to see, but Venice is my favorite city in the world. One quick story.

        Our son Jacob was 7 when we went. The last night we were there, the main Square, St. Marco’s was tourist free (it was October). There were competing orchestras in restaurants on opposite side. One played a Viennese waltz, which Jacob and I danced to — my husband pretended he didn’t know us. Then the other band played “I Could Have Danced All Night.” and Jacob and I continued to dance, just the two of us, in St. Marco’s square in front of the cathedral. It was magic.

        As we left, we were walking over a small bridge that is next to the Bridge of Sighs, and Jacob, with tears rolling down his cheeks said “I can’t believe we have to leave Venice.”

        Ah, Venice.

      2. How on earth did I miss this comment,Elyse. Ah, Venice!
        What a sweet sweet memory you have of you and your son, just beautiful.

        Well, that is it, I have to go and dance in the moonlight by the Bridge of Sighs and embarrass my husband. (I am not a good dancer)

  7. Jackie Cangro

    Oh, I’m right there with you!
    My obsession with Positano started before Under the Tuscan Sun. It was a (forgettable) movie called Only You with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. The movie wasn’t very good but the scenery of Italy was fabulous.

    PS – And I want to date a guy named Marcello. And ride around on a Vespa.

    1. Now wait a minute, I think I’ve seen that Robert Downey Jr. movie! I don’t quite remember it so yeah, probably not a good movie but now I’ll have to check it out again. Hmm…(love Robert Downey Jr…)

      For a sec I thought you said that you DID date a guy named Marcello and rode around on a Vespa. Whew! Good, now I don’t have to be jealous of you along with Renee.

  8. Saara

    Enjoy the movie, Darla. It is, indeed, very good. And, oh, the end is so amazing! The way she dies is just…. Just kiddin’! Nobody dies. I just get a sadistic little kick out of ruining movies for people. Please don’t kill me now. Or worse – report me as spam.

    1. Saara

      And, I was obsessed with learning Italian and Italy in general, a few years back. Sadly, my Italian didn’t go further than counting to 4. I wish you luck with yours and I hope you get to live your dream. It’s a good one!

  9. If I could eat food, I’d have pasta right now in your honor…

    I guess I could have some pasta fagioli and gelato…in your honor, of course.

    Great post – I expect since there were no pictures of actual food, though, you will not be Freshly Pressed for this scintillating and fascinating post.

    1. We have a gelato place nearby that makes the most amazing sorbetto and gelato and whenever I order some I break out my sad Italian accent. “Eh, scusi, I woulda like-a some-a gelato, prego!” and they tell me to leave the store immediately or they’re calling security.

      Speaking of FP. Did you notice the shocking array of posts now? One is writing, one is life and one is parenting! I think WP read your post!

      1. Maybe, I suddenly am getting e-mail notices for things I didn’t sign up for…It will be nice to read actual words that someone has taken the time to type…

      2. I just (last hour) started getting emails of comments on blogs I commented on, even though those boxes aren’t checked on my subscriptions, and the top one of the batch was Katy’s about suddenly getting e-mail notices. It’s like that mirror in a mirror infinity thing. GaaaHHHHHHH!!!!

  10. Good luck! Hope you get there someday soon. Do any of your ancestors come from there? My mom went to Italy a couple years ago, to the island of Lipari, where her father’s family came from. She had a lovely time.

    1. Thanks, Jeannette. I need all the luck I can get. And lots of money.

      What’s funny is I have zero relatives from Italy. None on both sides of the family and my husband’s. Must be the main reason I want to go there.

      I am English, Irish and Scottish. I do want to see Ireland one day, too.

      1. My only 2 trips abroad were to Italy 24 years ago and to Ireland 3 years ago. I only visit countries that begin with “I”. Izbeckistan next.

        But, my heart went right out of my chest and stayed in Ireland, even more than Italy. Must be the bones of my ancestors calling, and finding an answering song in my blood.

      2. I’ve not been to Italy, but I loved Ireland…I would go in a heartbeat – sell everything I own, divorce my husband, whatever it takes…and they have Guinness.

  11. This whole post made me giggle. I love both Under a Tuscan Sigh and Summertime, not to mention the book (and sort of the movie) Eat, Love, Pray. Roman Holiday is good too. LOL re falling backward while taking pictures–loved that scene in Summertime. If I could live somewhere, it would be on the Pacific Coast, near the Sierra Nevadas. I am happiest when I am roaming outside among tall pines. Great post–thanks for making me daydream!

    1. See, I saw Eat, Love, Pray in spite of the fact that I don’t really care for Julia Roberts and never read the book.

      I loved the scene in Summertime because just before she falls, she tells the kid “Now you go over there and you stand still and you shut up!” OH MY GOD, that woman cracks me up! She is my idol.

      I also love the Northwest, I want to go back to Oregon and Olympia, WA someday (I used to go to college there and fell in love with the place)

    1. Exactly, Deb. I can’t wait too long at my age. Good lord, we’ll both be 50 years old then so I’d better start saving now. By the way, thank you for the email, I meant to email you back and send some love back atcha so I’ll do it now. Powerful post in you FTIAT series! Loved it.

      1. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to wait until you were 50 to travel. Good Lord, if you were THAT ancient you’d have to pay for a 3rd airfare for your nurses aide, and just think of all the extra baggage charges to bring a trunk for all your Depends! Besides, what would you old farts do for fun – I don’t know if they have bingo in Rome?

      2. Now– how would YOU know about being 50? What with you being not a day over 39. Look at you, sitting on that kiddie ride in your gravatar, yukking it up, you hot young thang, you!! I’ve seen recent pictures of you, working those sexy heels.
        (did it work? did I dig myself out?)

  12. I’m with Deb – I want to contribute to that anniversary fund, too! 20 years…that’s not TOO far off, right? I think you’re on #13? And I will totally get you that bike holder for your wine before you go.

    This was such a great post, and I sooo know this feeling. When I watch anything about Bovaria, I’m like, “These are my people! I MUST GO THERE.” (I am part German, so I guess it’s not totally coincidental that they all seem to look like family, LOL)

    1. It’s not too far off. The kids will be 18 and 14 (yikes!) So I’m sure by then I’ll be half-crazy from dealing with teens and will want to fly over an ocean just to have a bit of escape.

      I’m glad you know that feeling of just wanting to go somewhere, like it has this magnetic pull on you. I dream about Italy.

  13. I’m not very widely travelled, but we did go to Italy about 24 BC (24 years ago, Before Children). It was magical. I would go back in a nanosecond.

    Not to be Debbie Downer, but I think Katherine Hepburn got some sort of nasty parasite in her ear that took years to clear up because of that scene falling into the canal. So, yeah. Serpents in paradise and all that.

    1. Oh, so you’ve been too? Where exactly? Personally, I think we should have our next WordPress Blogger Convention there.

      And ear parasites. Ewwww. No matter, I’ll still go. I’ll just be extra careful where I step. Or lay off the wine. (ahhhahaha, yeah right)

  14. You absolutely MUST go! Courtesy of being on ships, I’ve been to the port cities of Naples and Genoa for very brief visits. But the thought of the Italian countryside is totally yummy! I don’t care how many years it takes you to get there, I expect a blog entry and photos afterwards! (And yes, you most likely have lived there before).

  15. Darla I am not sure, if in another life you were Italian or not. But I can tell you, you were a great visionary for sure. Hats off to your imagination. You can imagine things beyond imagination. 🙂 Great post as always.
    And Darla if I am not wrong, then Maine is also a really beautiful place. I had seen some of its picture in someone else’s blog. And I really love that place. I hope in another life I was not a Mainer. 🙂

  16. I have two favorite childhood pictures one of me feeding the pigeons in St Marks Square on Easter Sunday the other is sitting on a wall overlooking the bay in Portofino. Both are with my baby brother. I have been back to both as an adult and taken nearly the same pictures, the amazing thing the views are nearly unchanged. I love Italy.

    What a wonderful dream for your anniversary!

  17. So, for our 25th anniversary, we took a trip to Europe with one of our adult sons, and we hooked up with our daughter who had been living in Italy for a year to go to school. Her Italian was pretty good by then, so she could interpret for us. It is an absolutely amazing place. We were in the area of Positano, but absolutely loved Cinque Terra, a string of 5 little fishing villages on the Amalfi coast with a trail and a ferry to connect them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinque_Terre
    So, even if you have to wait for your kids to be adults, go! We all had a blast! We would love to move there in our retirement.

    1. How lucky you were to have your daughter interpret for you! Sounds like a trip of a lifetime for your anniversary. I just showed my husband your link. We will definitely keep this in mind for when we go. I get all giddy just thinking about it. Someday soon I hope.

  18. Hi,
    Dreams can come true, I know this for a fact. 🙂
    You can make it happen, and you will I am sure of it, never, ever, give up on a dream, set a date for departure and aim for it. 😀

    1. Mags, I would like to print out your comment and post it in my mirror so I can tell myself that every morning. It is perfect! Thank you, I will aim for it and maybe one day see it come true.

  19. You must go. Set up a paypal account on your blog and we’ll all donate a little $$ here & there. And please go get yourself a long flowy dress and a cool hat in the meantime!

    Dreamy post 🙂
    MJ

  20. Oh wow. First post I’m reading of yours and it’s about Italy? Mama Mia!

    I often thought I was probably adopted and instead of my parent’s German/Norwegian/English heritage, I was obviously Italian because of my massive love for pasta and wine. My pasty white skin begs to differ, but my massive hips are proof positive.

    I have been to Italy once. It was one of the most magical times of my life. I lucked out and got to go for a week with my husband who went over for Reserve duty. We stayed in Rome for a weekend, celebrated new years there (the most unbelievable new years of my life!), and then stayed in Naples for a week, which is right off the Amalfi coast. Looks just like those pics. I would definitely suggest going there one day. It was one of the most memorable and fantastic trips of my life. I would totally live there. Oh, and make sure you try the lemoncello and grappa while there! Divine.

    Oh, and I can help with one translation: Dove e il Vino = Where is the wine. You’re welcome.

  21. Fantastico posto, D-Wowwo. That was all real Italian! Love your romantic sentiment, and that hubs is along for the ride. So great. I’m a hopeless romantic. Loved Summertime, but Roman Holiday is GREAT!

    You should start in southern California first. It’s not quite Italy, but it’s pretty darn good.

    1. I was hoping Roman Holiday was on Netflix streaming but nope. I’ll have to actually buy it.

      Southern Cali is one place I’ve never been. Reminds me of the movie Sideways, with all the wine. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place. I hope to one day get back out to the west coast, I loved it out there.

  22. Darla, I think I am your Southern long lost twin sister, who just happened to born a few years before you were. A miracle – I know! I have also felt a pull to a couple of places and Italy is one of them. Luckily, I have been and look forward to going back. It felt perfect! Just like I imagined. And now I have a love affair with Venice and Rome. They never really leave you. You must go and blog from there. Or vlog your own version of ‘Summertime’ – a favorite of mine too.

    1. I am relieved you said Italy was just like you imagined because I had this nagging feeling it wouldn’t live up to the hype or the magic I see in the movies. I will have to see about going to Venice now. Can you imagine blogging from there? I would take about a million pictures! I know I’d never want to leave either.

  23. Italy is gorgeous, Darla! I resent the whole country a little now that I don’t eat meat OR cheese (ALLERGY JERKS!!), but at least I can still eat pasta and drink wine. I’ll just have the pasta with plain tomato sauce– it’ll be just fine. 😉

      1. Well, I only went there for a few days on an otherwise lame high school trip, but those few days were enough to make me feel stylish, glamorous, and like I *had* to go back!

        Marty, on the other hand, has spent months in Italy. He almost lived in Florence on a semi-permanent basis. Apparently it’s an artist’s dream come true there!

  24. I’ve been to Italy several times – last visit was a couple of years ago – and I agree that everyone has to go to Italy at least once before they die. You have no idea what “pasta” should taste like until you go there.

  25. Yes! Go! I feel the exact same way about England, like I lived there in a past life and belong there — though I have at least got to go there. I hope you won’t wait until your 20th anniversary. That seems like forever away.

    I do have to warn you that you will probably struggle to find Reese’s peanut butter cups there. I hope that won’t hold you back.

    I liked Roman Holiday. I would have loved it more if Gregory Peck was played by a young Paul Newman (Rrrrrrow).

    1. What’s funny is my relatives are from England. I do feel a pull there as well and I wouldn’t mind visiting London either. But it strikes me as too dreary, too rainy, too melancholy…I can get that here in Maine.

      And OOOH YEAAAAH! Paul Newman! Rrrrrrrooooooooaaaawwwwwwww!!! I loved that man. He was a great guy and dreamy as all get out. (Love his pizza, wine, too)

      1. I love rainy days, stone cottages and dry humor. I hate boiled mutton, tea sets and Mick Jagger. I think I’ll have to reconcile these differences someday.

        Paul Newman is the love of my 1958 former life.

        1. Ew. I would think any sentence that combines ‘boiled mutton’ with Mick Jagger is just wrong on so many levels. Conjures up the worst image.Double blech.

          By the way, since we’re both blog-hopping together, I thought I’d give you my next line in the Mad Men discussion over here on my blog (Jules likes to keep hers family-friendly)

          here it is:

          I think they really blew it with that scene.

          (ba dum dum!) sound of cymbal

          1. Ha! Now that is a good pun right there. I think you need to take it on the road now.

            You’re right; only chipmunks and slap bracelets on Jules blog comments from here on out. (Sorry, Jules!)

            I think Mick Jagger’s face looks like boiled mutton.

          2. How do you do it? I’m reading along, lulled into a calm serenity reading your comments. Then BAM you slip in a comment at the end about Mick’s boiled muttton face and I am crying I’m laughing so hard.

          1. I heard James Dean was gay…I don’t want to make your heart bleed but that’s just what I heard. Probably on some True Hollywood Story show. If it’s true, it would be a tragedy for women, right up there with his untimely demise.

          2. In news related to “tragedy for women”, I recently watched Pillow Talk with my husband — the very first Rock Hudson movie I’d ever watched. I’d seen his picture and always wondered what the big deal was. Then I saw him on the screen in all his masculine, ravishing glory. Wow. All I can really say is…Wow.

      2. James Dean was gay. Huh. Did not know that.

        Have you noticed that every single heartthrob back then was gay or supposedly gay? I just read somewhere that Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn were gay. Dont’ know if it’s true, but I do think Cary Grant was smokin’ hot, hubba hubba with that little dent in his chin. wowzer…

        Yes, and speaking of wow, I am with you on Rock Hudson.

  26. Great post, Darla. My only advice about Italy is: Go, whether you can afford it or not. And the lira is gone, replaced by the euro. Before you leave, you may want to increase the limit on your credit card.

  27. I looooooove this, as I, too, want to go to Positano one day and have watched Under the Tuscan Sun at least 50 times. Wait, can you ditch the hubby and take a blogging buddy instead for your 20th anniversary? Or, could you ditch the anniversary plans and save money, for oh, say, then next ten years and make the trip earlier? I’m sooooo on board, girl! XOXO-SWM

    1. Oh that would be awesome. i know, we can get all the bloggers together and have a big WordPress convention in Positano. But then, my husband would be sure not to go with me! (he is still not getting why I blog….)

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