My Italian Roots
Since posting the poem “Island Voices” about a week ago, and “Full Moon Rise” yesterday, my Italian soul has been clamoring for attention. So I think I’m going to have to open up a new topic under the label “Italy”. So much of my life experience has been savored in that country, and so much of my soul resides there even when I live elsewhere, that it seems the right thing to do.
Some may wonder if I feel somewhat fragmented because of my ongoing attachment to Italy, but for me it is not so. Italy has been a part of me since before I was born, even though I was raised as a one hundred-percent British girl. There has always been the “Italian connection”.
You see my grandmother, my mother’s mother, was Italian. Her name was Maria Vittoria Jaconelli. I do not know her history, however, I believe it was her mother and father who came over from Italy to live in Scotland. But I do have a coat of arms for the Jaconelli family hanging in my living room full of much italicized flourishes, emblazoned in red, silver, and gold, with a crowned, armor-helmeted head and a very stylized lion brandishing a sword. Extremely impressive!!
My mother was just six years old when Maria Vittoria died following the birth of her last child, my Uncle John. I’m not sure where all the children were born, I think a period of time was spent in Ireland which is where my grandfather was from, but they were mainly raised in Scotland. My mother eventually came down to London where she met and married her very English husband, my Dad, and my siblings and I were all born and raised in London.
So even as I attended schools in the London area and grew up in the times of Mary Quant and the mini skirt (I’m really aging myself here!), the Monkees, Mods and Rockers, Beatniks, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Italian connection always hovered on the edge of my awareness. I knew we had Italian relatives who lived in northern England and on the Isle of White, but they seemed like some exotic distant part of the family.
As a teenager I lived “with my head in the clouds” (one of my mother’s favorite expressions when talking of me), and I was a full blown dreamer, a romanticist who was always looking to be different. Consequently I met and married (against said mother’s wishes – she was right by the way!) an Italian. This did get me my first visit to Italy and that very first experience of “Ah, I’m home”.
Much water has gone under the proverbial bridge since then. I do have two stupendous sons from that ill-fated marriage, Marco and Giulio. They are proof positive of the truth in that old saying “something good always comes out of something bad”. It was Giulio’s wedding that we celebrated in Aviano last month.
As I have mentioned before, I lived almost half of my life in Italy. I spent ten years on the beautiful island of Sardinia, before going back to live in the UK for five years. I returned to Italy in 1983 and lived in Naples where I met my present husband, Richard. We married and two years later moved a little further north along the coast to Gaeta for three years before being transferred to Norfolk, Virginia in the United States. We were given the opportunity to return to Naples, Italy in 1991 and there we remained until January 2004.
So it is understandable that so much of my life experience has been garnered in Italy. Italian blood runs in my veins and cannot be denied. And I have most definitely been influenced by the Italian people and their culture and made it part of the way I live my life today – especially in the kitchen!!
And here we are at the end of another posting. The original title for this was “Poetry: From Naples” and I had intended to do a paragraph or two of introduction/background. By the end of the third paragraph I realized my heart was going in a slightly different direction and was not to be stopped. Ah well, there’s always another day.