Oct 17 2011

Ischia – Italy’s Islanders 30

Life would never be the same after Francesca got involved with Tony. © Photo by Antonio Gerenini

Life would never be the same after Francesca got involved with Tony. © Photo by Antonio Gerenini

Get the truth about one of Italy’s most popular islands – and its people – by reading my new weekly blog installments (every Monday right here on this site)

Chapter Thirty – Speedy Love

On that first trip to Italy since Tony and I had become a couple, I was certain I had fallen madly, deeply in love. But was it all too much too fast? Our relationship was accelerated whenever we were finally together because we had to pack in so much of it all at once. I didn’t just visit Italy and see Tony every once in a while during my stay as I would have at the start of our courtship had we lived in the same place. I lived with him while I was in Italy, and we saw each other day and night. Because he lived with his family, I met everyone – from his mom to his sisters and brothers-in-law – just a couple months into the relationship. And I lived with them, too. We ate all our meals with them. While Tony was out running errands or going to work, I was home with his family. The same had been true for him while he was in the States. As a result, we grew close at a fast pace. Things were very serious very soon. Perhaps, I should have been more afraid of the speed, but I was honored Tony wanted to pursue me.

Before Tony, few, if any guys, took a romantic interest in me. I never dated anyone before him. And the guys with whom I hung out were studious, bookish types. Tony was nothing of the sort. He was the class clown, cracking jokes and making puns. Although he was sweet, he could remain detached enough to seem cool and to make you yearn for more. I personally could never pull off that kind of aloofness. And with his height, that goatee and those big green eyes, he was hot. I, Francesca Di Meglio, the girl who no boy ever noticed, was dating a hot Italian guy. How did this happen?

That’s why when I returned to the United States after this trip, I was a bit overwhelmed. I felt as though I was practically engaged already even though Tony claimed to be a commitmentphobe. He was a commitmentphobe, who insisted we committed to one another and introduced me to his family from the start. He was a commitmentphobe, who did not wince when he met my parents before we even officially started dating. He was a commitmentphobe who spoke of fear of commitment but who seemed to have none. I was supposed to be unafraid of commitment. Yet, I wondered whether we were rushing into this love. That wasn’t enough to spark fear or to keep me from loving more. And I knew things would never be quite the same for me.

Tune into this Web site, Two Worlds, every Monday for the latest installment in my blog about my experiences in Ischia, and every other Monday to ItaliansRus.com for the latest Our Paesani column about all things Italian. Di Meglio is also the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com.


Jun 13 2011

Ischia – Italy’s Islanders 16

After my trip to Ischia in 2004, the Statue of Liberty waved me back home, but one kiss might change all that. © Photo courtesy of Di Costanzo and Gerenini

After my trip to Ischia in 2004, the Statue of Liberty waved me back home, but one kiss might change all that. © Photo courtesy of Di Costanzo and Gerenini

Get the truth about one of Italy’s most popular islands – and its people – by reading my new weekly blog installments (every Monday right here on this site)

Chapter Sixteen – Already, a Complicated Life

My question for Tony was simple and direct. “Are you sure this is a good idea because I’m from the United States and you’re from Italy?” His answer was the same, “Don’t worry. Keep kissing me. We’ll find a way to make it all work.” We kissed for another moment and then I returned to my office to work. He smiled for the rest of the day, but the kiss had me trembling both for its passion and the complications it would undoubtedly bring to my life.

While I wanted to believe Tony and focus on the glory of this blossoming love story, I couldn’t help but hear my gut churning. After all, months earlier a trip to Ischia’s hospital with that dang knee injury that was still plaguing me had me wishing I had never seen the place. Now, I was going to get embroiled in a romance with one of its natives? Aaaaah, but he was so cute and charming, and he seemed to genuinely like me, which was my favorite characteristic in a man back then. He did travel all the way from Italy to see me. And did I mention how cute and charming he was?

In the meantime, Roberto and my mom returned from the grocery store just in time for the boys to start preparing lunch and for my parents to head to the airport to pick up my sister Rosaria and her friend Addy. The phone rang and when I answered, there was a familiar Italian voice on the other end. It was Lisa. She was not at all happy. Roberto had not been in touch since he arrived in the States, and she wanted to know what he was doing – and with whom. I quickly had him pick up the phone. Although Tony and I couldn’t hear what was happening on the other end of the line, Roberto’s face told the story of a boyfriend in trouble with his love. If he had been back in Ischia, he’d be sleeping outside with his dog Diego (named for soccer player Maradona, of course) tonight. For much of the afternoon, he looked as if Diego had died.

Singing while cooking (still with a genuine smile stretched across his handsome face), Tony insisted that American salt had no taste and kept adding it to the pot of boiling water, ready to dump the pasta into the pot. As I finished up my work ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, I was distracted by the kiss and thoughts of being forced to live in Ischia, an island without even an MRI machine, where my kids would lack opportunities, and the people work only six months per year, a place where people really believe that a glass of ice water on a hot day will kill you. At least, I had family like Roberto there. And I made a few friends on my recent trips. Truly, I earned a college degree in the States and vowed to stay in the New York metropolitan area because it was where I belonged and where my real family – replete with parents, siblings, and cousins – either lived or often gathered. We left Ischia with good reason; Ischia made us poor, and America made us rich in more ways than just in our wallets. And I sang to myself, too: “God bless America, land that I love…”

A little while later, Rosaria and Addy, who met my sister while the two studied abroad in Italy last summer, walked into the house. After brief introductions, we sat down to eat. Suddenly, the sullen Roberto, who had just argued with his Italian girlfriend Lisa, was coming back to life. He pushed my sister aside to sit between her and all-American Addy. A dancer, Addy was long and lean and had the face of a supermodel. Blond and blue-eyed, she was the epitome of what Italian boys thought of when they dreamed of American girls. Certainly, Roberto had forgotten his earlier tiff, but I think he also had forgotten Lisa’s name…

Some names and identifying characteristics of the real people involved have been changed.

Tune into this Web site, Two Worlds, every Monday for the latest installment in my blog about my experiences in Ischia, and every other Monday to ItaliansRus.com for the latest Our Paesani column about all things Italian. Di Meglio is also the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com.