Welcome to the new blog “Not My Grandmother’s Italy.” My name is Annamaria Borelli, and I am here to talk about my experience as an American kid growing up Italian. That is the perfect way to put it. I was born and raised in Long Branch, New Jersey. My last name is Borelli, and I was part of the Italian American community. Like, really part of the Italian American community. We went to “Italian School” and learned to speak the language with other Italian children. Mass every Sunday was not optional, and my REAL Italian grandmother from Puglia would guilt trip you into it. If you are Italian American, can I get an Amen? My grandfather, or nonno, as we would call him didn’t say much, well, could you blame him? In some cases SILENCE speaks louder than words.
My mother was from an Italian immigrant family. My grandmother didn’t necessarily leave Italy for financial reasons. From the way she told it, they were having “feste danzanti” which are literally dance parties! She seemed to have a pretty nice life, especially when it came to human relationships. It isn’t like the relationships of today, literally, “here today, gone tomorrow.” Back then, love and respect transcended time and especially distance. Have you heard of the song “ain’t no mountain high enough?” Well, that was my grandmother’s family, there were no obstacles when it came to keeping in touch and most of all, when it came to respect. My nonna, or “Zia Tittina” as she was affectionately called by her relatives, embodied this concept of family. No matter where you were in the world, you knew that you were cared for. That is extremely powerful, and gives you the extra push you need to carry on. Love was truly love in thought, word, and deed. There you have it. This was just a little intro into “Not my grandmother’s Italy.” Stay tuned to explore more about the past and present of living in Italy, being Italian American, bilingual, and most of all bicultural! Whoever said “bi” was a bad thing?
About the Author: Annamaria Borelli is a proud Italian American from Long Branch, New Jersey. Ten years ago she left the Jersey shore and began her journey to Rome, Italy. She currently resides in Bari, the capital of the region of Puglia (Apulia) in Italy. Her passions include opera and jazz singing, writing, reading English literature, musical theater and teaching English.