A Guest Post by Frankie Still
Italophile, Blogger and Co-Founder of Terra Adopt
Frankie and her Italian counterpart Giuseppe were among the first bloggers I started following a couple of years ago, when blogging was new to me. I was drawn to their site by their beautiful photos and their mission to explore a lesser known side of Italy, including Abruzzo and Puglia. Soon, their passion for the Italian countryside grew into a tangible mission to support and protect the ancient land. I’m so proud to present here Frankie’s story of how an English gal found herself living in, and loving, Italy. –SdA
When researching my study trip to Rome I was careful to learn all the stereotypes. You know the ones: Italians are born actors who live out their lives as if on a stage set. They love drama, talking to strangers and showing off. They take pride in their passions. Yep, I learnt them all in Italian 101 but somehow I just couldn’t imagine them embodied in a real living, breathing people. Coming from polite, reserved and yes, sometimes cold-hearted England, I had no idea how people could live like that. How could they be prey to such spontaneous emotions, enjoy being in the spotlight so much and chat so casually to strangers?
Fast forward seven years and here I am stopping off a the pizzeria to get a snack on my way home. Glancing in my wallet I notice I have only one euro left. One of the best things about living in Rome is pizza weighed by the slice. Tell your pizzaiolo how much you want to spend and they’ll use their expert eye to size up and cut the equivalent weight in pizza.
“Un euro di pizza bianca, per favore,” I tell the posing pizzaiolo who is showing off, juggling his pizza cutters behind the counters. He slices off a strip of pizza with a flourish and turns his back on me to weigh my pizza. From the corner of my eye I see the numbers on the scale flicker to €1.08.
He turns back with a huge grin, “One euro and three cents!” he exclaims to the whole joint. “I reckon that’s close enough to a euro, don’t you?” (“Direi che ci sono andato abbastanza vicino, no?”) I gasp and join him in his delight at being such a master of his art.
“Che bravo!” After all these years, I now knew my role in the stage show. That pale, reserved English girl just out of university had been replaced by an Italian-speaking woman playing to the gallery of assorted after-work faces in a suburban pizzeria.
I was drawn to Italy because I felt like I needed a little colour in my life. As I watched friends apply for staid, safe graduate jobs in the last few months of university, I began to feel panic take hold. Could I really just segue from university to office job? Was that all life had to offer? It was then that I decided to go somewhere new, somewhere famed for its exuberant, lively take on life. I booked myself an Italian course and a one-way ticket to Rome. There began a long journey, full of ups and downs as I decided to stay, learnt a new language, made a new life and friends, met my Italian partner and finally set up a business. I don’t regret one moment of those extreme highs and lows. Before I came to Italy, I tried to control and organise every aspect of my life. Italy has taught me to let life happen to me, to embrace change and to invest my time in relationships and not in ‘to do’ lists.
It’s not an easy time to be living here. Anyone who follows the news will know that the Italian economy is the butt of jokes across the European Union. Those famous ups and downs apply to the job market too, and unemployment is at a record high. However, we believe that Italy has too much to give the world, and too much to offer us, to abandon it. We have made the conscious decision to stay and embrace uncertainty, safe in the knowledge that what this wonderful, frustrating country can offer us more than makes up for it.
Frankie and Giuseppe launched Terra Adopt in October 2014, in order to help support olive farmers in Southern Italy and save their ancient olive groves. In just six months, their organization has adopted 50 olive trees, and Terra Adopt continues to thrive. What is most touching to me is how Frankie and Giuseppe took such positive action on something which was important to them, and how their passion impacted many others around them. I wish you both continued success, and Frankie, grazie mille for sharing your Italian story with us!
For more details on adopting an olive tree, (and enjoying the oil from its harvest), click here. –SdA