Back to my home village now. Olgiate Comasco, where I lived most of my life.
I feel at peace, I feel safe, I feel loved, I feel I don’t want to leave anymore.
Never like this time, I have felt so much joy in being back! Being here with my Aussie family and my Italian family, it’s just too special!
You know that feeling when you're in the midst of something amazing, but you're not fully appreciating it? Well, that's not the case for me. I'm right here, fully immersed in this wonderful moment, and I'm fully aware of it. I'm just so happy and grateful!
In a long time, I don't think I've felt this way in general. Don't get me wrong, I love my life, and I'm generally content, but this is different. I feel whole!
Our days are filled with hours spent in Dad's garden, where the girls get to pluck fresh veggies and play with the goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, kittens, and, of course, collect eggs from the chickens each day. It's an incredible opportunity for them, and they absolutely adore it! Sienna often heads out early in the morning with Nonno in his vibrant yellow sports car (the Barchetta), and it's truly heartwarming to see them share this special time together.
When we're not at Nonno's garden, we often go horseback riding or simply take care of a couple of horses that my wonderful friend Betta has made available for us. Sienna and Julia have a deep love for horses, and they seem entirely at ease around these majestic animals. It's truly incredible to witness! Of course, I like to think they inherited this from me, don't you? It's amusing how I used to be so fearless around horses when I was single, and now, I can't help but feel a bit nervous when the girls are around them.
One of my objectives for this trip was to ensure that the girls could spend as much time as possible with horses, and I'm happy to say that I can now check that off the list! 😊
Saying goodbye to Sara, Andrew, and Dao was a tough moment for me. I had made a promise to myself not to shed tears, wanting to part with them wearing a smile rather than a tear-stained face. I did manage to keep that promise, but as soon as they turned the corner, I couldn't hold back my emotions any longer. I am very grateful for the time we had together but how sad we won’t be able to see each other again, for long time!
On our journey back from Lignano towards Como, we decided to make a midday stop for lunch. We were in search of a charming spot but wanted to avoid the hustle and traffic of overly touristy destinations. As fate would have it, our decision was swiftly made when we caught sight of a breathtaking medieval castle from the highway. We promptly exited the highway and followed the road leading to the village.
Upon our arrival, we discovered that the enchanting village was named Soave, a name I had previously associated solely with its wine, never imagining it was derived from such a picturesque place. Soave, nestled in the province of Verona, is enveloped by towering, well-preserved medieval walls. In fact, Soave is one of the rare Italian villages that still boasts its ancient walls in impeccable condition.
The sight before us left us utterly awestruck, transporting me back in time to the 1300s.
In the middle of town, right outside the walls, we discovered a charming restaurant called "Locanda Lo Scudo." There, we savoured a fantastic seafood and fish lunch that was incredibly delicious. The service was top-notch, adding to the overall enjoyment of our meal.
This turned out to be an incredible experience for Jason and me – a pleasant surprise stumbling upon a place like this by sheer chance! It rekindled the enchantment of Italy for us. It also served as a reminder that spontaneous choices often lead to the most delightful surprises.
On Saturday, we checked out of our apartment in Grosseto, feeling a bit relieved after three weeks, especially because it didn't turn out exactly as I had planned. Jason worked for half of our time there, and we didn't quite get the vibe and routine I had been hoping for.
On our way to our next destination, we made stops in Pisa and Lucca, where we said goodbye to Denise. She was traveling on her own to Florence, Venice, and Verona.
I truly fell in love with Lucca; I found it very charming and elegant, although it was a bit touristy. I'm sure it would be a wonderful place to live, especially during other seasons.
Our next brief stop was in Bologna, where we spent a night to break up the journey to Lignano Sabbiadoro. Bologna was absolutely beautiful! I loved the variety of architecture, the arcades (portici), the many towers, and the hills surrounding the city. It was another place that brought tears to my eyes. I was at the very top of the clock tower, taking in the beautiful views when I suddenly felt very emotional. It was a mix of gratitude for being able to see such beauty and a hint of sadness, knowing I would soon be far away and unable to enjoy it again.
Three hours later, we arrived in Lignano Sabbiadoro, a seaside town in northeastern Italy not far from Venice. This is where we met my friend Sara and her family. Sara and I met in Australia 17 years ago, just three months after I arrived in Sydney. We shared a room in Manly for about a year! After Sara left Sydney, we crossed paths again in Byron, Thailand, England, and now... Lignano! Needless to say, Sara is still a very dear friend of mine, and spending a week with her, her husband Andrew, and their son Dao was truly amazing. This was the first time our two families had met, and it was a very special moment for us.
Our days were filled with laughter, games, trips to the beach and back, gelato, cooking, and, of course, aperitivos!
We had a fantastic day at Acquasplash, a large water park, where Jason and the kids had the time of their lives! Yes, Jason was probably the one who enjoyed it the most, trying out all the different slides and never wanting to stop! 😊
Another incredible day was when we all went to Venice to meet Denise (my mother-in-law) on her birthday! How lucky we were to be there on that day! Venice is still wonderful, albeit a bit too touristy and crowded. However, if you can focus your attention on the buildings, canals, bridges, and imagine what life was like there just 100 years ago, you'll find yourself transported to another world, a very special one indeed!
It was fascinating to listen to the gondolier during our gondola ride. He told us interesting stories about how traditions are still strong in Venice and how he could only have his own gondola after receiving the license from his father. Before that, for 15 years, he could only work on call, which meant a very limited income.
The place is filled with intriguing stories and characters. We saw Casanova's house, the prison where Silvio Pellico was incarcerated, and the Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners uttered their final sighs of hope before being locked away forever.
Venice might not be my favorite place in Italy, but it's a place everyone should see, in my opinion...
Our second week in Tuscany has been quite eventful! No, no fights with neighbours involved, fortunately, just lots of arguing with kids, but that’s another story, I don’t want to bother you with.
Anyway, past are the times where Jason and I were travelling solo, no kids in tow, long walks, long aperitivos, long uninterrupted conversations, and no tantrums to deal with! Ah … I must admit that was a very different way to travel, definitely easier! But, here we are, with 2 kids, Sienna and Julia, who make our life a bit more challenging but also fun and … interesting!
Now, going back to our 2nd week in Tuscany, we finally head to a city that is very dear to us, Siena.
Jason and I visited Siena pre-kids and fell in love with this beautiful city. Siena is very famous for the “Palio di Siena”, the most important and peculiar horse race in Italy.
Those who truly know me are aware that horses have been my passion and the very essence of my life, especially during my time in Italy. Even to this day, these magnificent creatures continue to hold a significant place in my heart and play an essential role in defining who I am. The profound connection I have with horses seems to have been passed on to my children as well..
We chose the name Sienna for our first daughter because we thought it really had something to do with us! An Italian beautiful place we both connected too, the fact that horses are an important part of this city.. but it's only recently that we found something quite extraordinary that seems to confirm our choice!
Il palio, the horse race, happens on the same day every year! Guess what day? The 2nd of July, Sienna’s birthday!
Not only, the race actually occurs twice every year, in two different days! The first race on the 2nd of July and the second one on the 16th of August, which is Julia’s birthday, our second child! Isn’t this just incredible? We were stocked. This has been happening for centuries! We really wonder if this has a deeper meaning than just chance…
Last Saturday, we arrived at Marina di Grosseto, a charming seaside town in Tuscany.
We've rented an apartment here for three weeks, hoping to experience the best of the Italian summer and show the girls a different beach lifestyle compared to Australia. It's also a fantastic location for Jason and nanny Denise to explore both the beautiful Tuscan coast and hills.
Jason has been working remotely since we arrived, and fortunately, this will be his last week of work! I must admit, I am truly excited about the beginning of our proper family holiday. He has been waking up every morning around 3 am, and dedicating his entire day to work, leaving me to handle our energetic and playful two girls all by myself! But hey, it's all part of the adventure, right? 😉
What I didn't anticipate as part of the adventure was getting into troubles with the locals! Since our arrival, we've met nothing but wonderful people—kind, warm, generous, and welcoming. I was genuinely taken aback by how lovely everyone has been... until we reached this place. It was quite unexpected!
This is what happened:
We're on the second floor with a spacious terrace that looks great but also carries noise quite well.
In the first two days, we didn't realize that every step the kids took echoed through the building, causing annoyance to the family renting the downstairs apartment.
We soon received a not-so-subtle message from the lady downstairs, who started yelling at us like a lunatic from her door. The first time it happened, it was 8:30 am on a Sunday, and she complained that it was too early and they were still sleeping. I thought to myself, "Okay, fair enough, we are in Italy, after all." People sleep in much longer than in Australia!
The second time, just after lunch, she yelled again, claiming it was rest time and we needed to be quiet. Once more, I asked the girls to calm down. I was getting a bit frustrated, not so much with the complaints, but with her lack of willingness to approach us and have a civilized conversation about it. Nevertheless, I promised myself to approach the situation calmly and maintain a "zen" attitude...
Well, that resolution didn't last long, as the lady started going off again!! At that point, I couldn't contain myself any longer. I opened our door and yelled back at her with all my might! Yes, I did, and it was surprisingly satisfying! 😊
It's quite remarkable how arguing in Italian feels so much more satisfying than in any other language! The words flow effortlessly, and it's incredibly satisfying to express myself in my mother tongue! It's like the language lends itself perfectly to intense conversations! 😄 I wasn't rude, but I had to let her know that we had had enough and that she needed to calm down.
Anyway, I hope that's the end of it, and that 'La strega' (the witch) will eventually calm down. Stay tuned for any updates!
In the meantime we are going to enjoy the beautiful beach, the numerous fun parks, food and aperitivos... as much as possible...
P.S. La Dolce Vita remains as sweet as ever, even with a hint of bitterness on the tongue!
A presto e baci,
LA MIA PRIMA LITIGATA ITALIANA - MARINA DI GROSSETO 2-9 LUGLIO
Sabato scorso siamo arrivati a Marina di Grosseto, una graziosa località di mare in Toscana.
Abbiamo affittato un appartamento per tre settimane, sperando di vivere al meglio l'estate italiana e mostrare alle bambine uno stile di vita sulla spiaggia diverso rispetto all'Australia. È anche una fantastica posizione per permettere a Jason e a nonna Denise di esplorare sia la splendida costa toscana che le colline circostanti.
Jason sta facendo ' smart working ' da quando siamo arrivati, e fortunatamente questa sarà la sua ultima settimana di lavoro! Devo ammettere che non vedo l’ ora di cominciare la nostra vera vacanza in famiglia. Jason si sveglia ogni mattina intorno alle 3 del mattino e dedica l'intera giornata al lavoro, lasciando a me il compito di gestire da sola le nostre due 'pesti' ! Ma hey, fa tutto parte dell'avventura, giusto? 😉
Quello che non mi aspettavo come parte dell'avventura era di avere dei problemi con la gente del posto! Da quando siamo arrivati, abbiamo incontrato solo persone meravigliose: gentili, calorose, generose e accoglienti. Sono rimasta sinceramente sorpresa da quanto tutti siano stati affabili... fino a quando non siamo arrivati in questo posto. È stato abbastanza inaspettato!
Ecco cosa è successo:
Siamo al secondo piano con una spaziosa terrazza che è molto bella ma trasmette anche molto rumore. Nei primi due giorni, non ci siamo resi conto che ogni passo dei bambini echeggiava nella palazzina, causando fastidio alla famiglia che affittava l'appartamento al piano di sotto. Abbiamo presto ricevuto un messaggio non troppo sottile dalla signora del piano di sotto, che ha cominciato a urlare come una pazza dalla sua porta.
La prima volta che è successo, erano le 8:30 di domenica e si è lamentata che era troppo presto e che loro stavano ancora dormendo. Ho pensato tra me e me: "Ok, va bene, siamo in Italia, dopotutto." La gente qui dorme molto più a lungo rispetto all'Australia!
La seconda volta, subito dopo pranzo, ha urlato di nuovo, affermando che era l'ora del riposo e che dovevamo fare silenzio. Ancora una volta, ho chiesto alle ragazze di calmarsi. Stavo cominciando ad essere un po' frustrata, non tanto per le lamentele, ma per la sua mancanza di volontà di avvicinarsi a noi e avere una conversazione civile a riguardo.
Tuttavia, mi sono promessa di affrontare la situazione con calma e mantenere un atteggiamento "zen"... Beh, quella risoluzione non è durata a lungo, poiché la signora ha ricominciato di nuovo!! A quel punto, non ho più potuto trattenere me stessa. Ho aperto la nostra porta e le ho urlato di rimando con tutte le mie forze! Sì, l'ho fatto ed è stato sorprendentemente appagante! 😊 È davvero notevole quanto sia soddisfacente litigare in italiano rispetto a qualsiasi altra lingua! Le parole scorrono senza sforzo ed è incredibilmente appagante esprimermi nella mia lingua madre! ! 😄
Non sono stata scortese, ma ho dovuto farle capire che ne avevamo abbastanza e che doveva calmarsi.
Comunque, spero che 'La strega' si calmi in fretta e che non ci rovini le vacanze!
Restate sintonizzati per eventuali aggiornamenti!
Nel frattempo, continueremo a goderci la bellissima spiaggia, i numerosi parchi divertimento, il cibo e gli aperitivi... il più possibile...
P.S. La Dolce Vita rimane dolce come sempre, anche con un pizzico di amarezza sulla lingua!
A presto e baci, Jessica
Since Saturday, we have been in Rome, or more accurately, just outside Rome, at my sister's place.
The journey from Como was a breeze, thanks to the impressive service of Trenitalia's fast train. In just four hours, my daughters, mother-in-law Denise, and I arrived in the Eternal City. I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride in the smooth journey. Meanwhile, Jason and my parents opted for the road trip, enduring a 6 and a half-hour drive. I couldn't decide what was more exhausting for Jason - the long drive or conversing with my parents in Italian for the entire duration! He truly is amazing, and that's one of the many reasons I love him.
As soon as they arrived, my daughters Sienna and Julia immediately connected with their aunt Liliana, uncle Danilo, and cousins Rebecca and Melissa. It was as if they had always known each other, embracing tightly.
The last time they met, Sienna was 3 and Julia was just 10 months old. Yet, the bond of family transcends time, and their love and connection were instantly rekindled. Being together with my extended family has been nothing short of heavenly. Despite the geographical distance, my connection with my sister Liliana remains incredibly strong. We still joke about everything and laugh like we did when we were young girls - it's truly amazing.
On Tuesday, Liliana, Jason, and I took Denise to the heart of Rome, where she spent two nights exploring on her own. It was a delightful day as we visited Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, and the Pantheon. We stopped for a leisurely lunch, savoring the flavors of Rome, followed by indulging in gelato. The entire day was simply magical. The joy of talking, laughing, and savoring every moment with Liliana was unparalleled. I found beauty in both the good and the bad, reaffirming my belief that Rome is indeed the most beautiful city in the world. This week only solidified that conviction.
As we bid farewell to Denise and gazed upon the grandeur of the Colosseum, tears welled up in my eyes - a first for me. I couldn't help but feel a profound sadness knowing that it might be a long while before I can visit this remarkable city again. The history, the atmosphere, the people, and the vibrant language, all contribute to its unique charm. Rome has touched my soul in ways I never imagined. It's not just a city; it's a love affair that has left an indelible mark on my heart.
Tomorrow a new adventure starts as we head to Tuscany for 3 weeks! :-)
Our second week in Como has been absolutely amazing!
We've been enjoying shopping for clothes, savoring delicious food, exploring the sights, spending time with family and friends, going horse riding in my old stomping ground, visiting the local open markets, and of course, indulging in more food.
Each day is filled with small but meaningful moments.
However, the best part has been the people! Everyone here has been incredibly welcoming, kind, generous, and caring. It's impossible not to feel loved in this place! At least that's how I feel right now—loved and happy! Life couldn't be any sweeter!
Another thing I've noticed is how well I fit in here! What I mean is that I feel like I truly belong. Everything seems to be just right for me—clothes, food, cars, places, streets, and even the soft lighting feels more gentle and comforting. Please don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Australia, and I'm not complaining. But here in Italy, everything feels more suited to me.
The clothes fit me much better, the cars are the perfect size, the narrow streets don't feel so narrow to me, and I must admit, the food (and yes, the drinks) goes down so well...maybe even a bit too well!
And let's not forget about the language! Even though I've been in Australia for 17 years, Italian is still my first language. The ease of interacting with people and the confidence that they'll understand my jokes, make me feel like myself!
All in all, my time in Como has been absolutely wonderful. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, the feeling of belonging, and the comfort of speaking my first language have made it truly special. I'm grateful for this opportunity to immerse myself in such a beautiful place, surrounded by amazing people. I look forward to the days ahead, tomorrow we are heading to Rome! Whooo! New adventures!
It still feels unreal, but here we are in Italy! I truly can't believe it! It's been nearly a week since we arrived and set foot in my hometown, Olgiate Comasco, located in the province of Como.
Having lived in this town for 25 years, the memories of places, people, and events are still vivid in my mind. It's incredible to be back and reconnect with the familiar surroundings that hold so much meaning.
Initially, I had concerns about accommodating our group of five in my parents' cozy apartment. However, to my delight, things have been going quite well so far. Our kind neighbours offered their garden cabin to my husband, Jason, allowing him to work remotely or as they say here, engage in "smart working". It's a true blessing to have this additional space for Jason to focus and be productive, especially considering the early morning meetings that would disrupt everyone in the apartment.
This quaint cabin is filled with a unique collection of animal skeletons and stuffed creatures. The owners, passionate hunters, have curated a captivating display that adds a touch of whimsy to the cabin's atmosphere. I find it hilarious to see Jason surrounded by bones and horns, especially when his Australian home office is filled with surfboards!
The girls have been attending a horse camp for four full days! It's a dream come true for them, and honestly, for me too! Horses were a significant part of my life while living in Italy, and witnessing them in these familiar places, doing what I loved to do, is truly a dream come true.
Denise, my mother-in-law, has adapted well to Italian life. It's wonderful to see her observe and appreciate even the smallest things. This being her first time in Italy, she's fully embracing the concept of La Dolce Vita, making the most of her experience!
As for me, I am savouring every minute here! I cherish the time spent with my parents, relatives, and friends. The warmth and friendliness of everyone around me are truly heartwarming. It brings me joy to wander from town to town and bump into familiar faces. The sense of familiarity I feel when I step out, the places, the people, the smells, the sounds... Everything transports me back to memories of my life in Italy. I felt a wave of nostalgia yesterday as I strolled through the centre of Como, breathing in the atmosphere and realizing that this is only temporary.
Anyway, that's enough for now. Here are some pictures from our first week. I'll be back in a week with more stories to share!
As we eagerly anticipated our upcoming adventure to Italy, ( one week to go) , we knew that purchasing new suitcases was an essential step in our preparation. Armed with extensive online research and a clear idea of what we needed, we embarked on a journey to the stores, confident that we were well-prepared. However, little did we know that the simple task of buying suitcases would turn into a hilarious and somewhat stressful event, thanks to our dear children.
Heading to the Shops:
With visions of picturesque landscapes and delectable Italian cuisine dancing in our heads, we ventured into the realm of luggage stores. Our minds were filled with images of sleek and stylish suitcases that would perfectly match our travel plans. Armed with a list of requirements, we thought we had it all figured out. But, oh, how quickly reality can shatter even the most carefully laid plans!
Kids in Tow:
To our initial delight, we discovered that the bags we had seen online were indeed available in the store. As we examined them, discussing their features and suitability, our children's eyes were instantly captivated by the vibrant colors of a purple and pink suitcase pair. They pleaded with adorable earnestness, insisting that these were the bags they simply had to have.
Suddenly, the peaceful atmosphere of the store transformed into a chaotic battleground. The girls were fervently trying on each bag, demanding their preferred shades of purple and pink. As we attempted to maintain some semblance of order and composure, the stress levels skyrocketed. Time seemed to stretch on indefinitely as we found ourselves caught in a never-ending loop of bag swapping and color debates. I felt for the shop assistant and the other customers in the shop! :-)
After what felt like an eternity spent wrestling with luggage and colorful demands, a moment of realization dawned upon us. Amidst the chaos, we had ended up purchasing two extra smaller bags, (guess the colours), that we definitely didn't need. It was a mix of disbelief and hilarity that swept over us. How had we managed to succumb to our kids?
Lessons Learned: As we left the store, shaking our heads , we couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Our well-researched plan had been swiftly derailed by the innocent desires of our children. It was a gentle reminder that no matter how prepared we thought we were, life has a funny way of throwing unexpected curveballs our way.
In the end, our suitcase shopping adventure became a memorable chapter in our journey towards la dolce vita. It taught us to embrace the unpredictability of life, find humor in the unexpected, and cherish the moments of chaos that weave themselves into the tapestry of family memories.
Conclusion n. 2:
Next time, we'll either order online or go to the shops without the kids. Full stop! :-)
After a long wait of 5 years, I am finally returning to Italy to visit my beloved family, reunite with dear friends, and explore the enchanting wonders of my beautiful country! What makes this journey even more special is that I won't be going alone; I am thrilled to be accompanied by my loving husband, two wonderful kids, and even my mother-in-law! We will be embarking on an incredible adventure that will keep us away for nearly 3 months. The yearning for Italy has been immense, and now, having the opportunity to rediscover its splendor alongside my family feels like an extraordinary dream come true. While I will dearly miss my students here, I couldn't resist sharing this marvelous experience with all of you. Stay tuned for captivating updates from our Italian escapade!
I am Jessica Cammarata, the proud founder and owner of The Language Hub. Originally from the picturesque shores of Lake Como, Italy, I embarked on a life-changing journey that led me to Australia in 2006. In this incredible country, I not only fell il llove for Australia but also found an amazing Aussie who stole my heart. This new chapter in my life opened doors to a fulfilling and rewarding career path, making me truly grateful for the opportunities that came my way.