Rediscovering America: An Italian in New York

Italy has taught me how to love my home again.  After thirty years in Southern California, and many summers and holidays in New York, I felt like I didn’t know how to have fun in my own country anymore.  Nothing seemed new and exciting.  I came to Italy in search of that warm fuzzy feeling again, and I found it.  But of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, now that I am in Italy I miss the United States terribly.  A complex combination of “the grass is always greener,” legitimate cravings for food, friends, and family (not necessarily in that order), and a renewed thirst for traveling, my longing to explore America runs deep these days.

I share this new-found enthusiasm with the people who fill my life here in Italy.  From the bus to my English classes to my roommates and my favorite café, my days are spent meeting countless curious Italians, trying desperately to understand why I would leave such a beautiful place as San Diego to come to Bologna.  Their opinions of America are those rose-colored glasses I needed to begin a new love affair with America.  Stories of their impressions of and adventures in the United States always whet my appetite (again) for a trip home.

One of my favorite stories about Italians adventuring in America has come from one of my best English students, a very established Bolognese marketing professional, who knows more about American politics than I do.  He wrote this story about his first trip to the United States, when he went alone several decades ago before he was even twenty years old.  The first time he read it to me, I died laughing.  Hope you enjoy it nearly as much as I did.

My impressions about my journey in the United States.

By Paolo, October 2012

I was in Mexico at the end of February during a journey that I had begun two months before, and as you are probably aware, it was warm over there.  Suddenly I decided to go to New York, but in New York it was winter.  I left Bologna, Italy only with summer clothes because I had planned to go to the USA on another trip late in spring.  Well just a few days later I left Mexico and I touched down at J.F. Kennedy airport when I was under twenty years-old, without knowing English, without a hotel reservation and during the winter  dressed in  summer clothes.  It didn’t seem too bad!

I remember that at the gate of the airport I wore an alpaca overcoat that I had bought in Peru… but only as a present for a friend of mine.  But my friend was a  skinny girl! So imagine, I arrived at  customs, dressed like a hippy, with long hair and wearing this weird overcoat, Jimi Hendrix style.  They frisked me!

I found a taxi who drove me to  Manhattan.  I got out of the taxi, right in front of a hotel.  I took my suitcases which were very heavy because I had bought some stone objects,  and I went into the hotel.  It was fully booked! I found myself in the middle of a street  not knowing exactly where I was, without an idea of where I could go.  In addition it was getting dark and mean characters were coming towards me.   I was getting scared about the situation.  I tried  three or four other hotels and eventually I found a room.  The receptionist understood my position and smiled at me.  I went in the room and I had a warm bath.  After my bath I stopped me in front of a window and I looked at the roofs covered by the snow and …I was in Manhattan!

 

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