Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coming Home to Rome

This blog sure has led me to explore so many parts of my heritage. I braved the Mormon past, dug through my Southern heritage, and now, I am exploring the homeland of my maternal heritage: Italy. When I was growing up, I thought my whole family was Italian. Even my loud, passionate father. It is often said that the mother of the family usually has the responsibility of passing on the cultural heritage, and that was true in my upbringing. We ate pasta 4 nights a week, shouted in every conversation, and held grudges for lengths of time that only a Sicilian can brag about. In church, I used to sing without a microphone. Everyone was amazed at my ability to project, but I always gave the credit to my loud Italian family.  Music and art was also encouraged and supported in my home, and being in Italy now makes it easy to see why. The architecture here is amazing. Simply mind blowing. Every detail can be seen as important. Every position and shape has symbolism. Everything was well thought out. I used to think I was weird for being so intense in my thinking, but now I can see that I am just Italian.

My favorite stop was the Leonardo da Vinci museum. It is small, but the information was so inspiring. da Vinci was so intensely curious. His mind came up with design that gave us the car, the bicycle, diving equipment, and so many other machines. After walking through the museum, I felt inspired to be confident in being deeply curious about the world. We need more curious minds.

Of course I visited the Colosseum, a place famous for Gladiator fighting and other violent spectacles. Me being who I am, I found the place disturbing, knowing that fighting to the death was once a form of entertainment. That being said, the structure was mind boggling. How did they do it? How did they build that structure in 80 A.D.? There is so much I still don't understand.

The Pantheon was another mind boggling place. It was built originally as a Pagan temple in the 1st century. Again, my amazement in our human capabilities was overwhelming.

My only criticism of Rome is I only hear American music. I don't understand this. Italians have such a rich history of producing great music. In school, we only studied Italians for the first part of every music history class. The Romans invented musical notation. The greatest composers were Italian until the Viennese took over that title. Growing up, we listened to a lot of Opera, and in school, I studied Italian Art Song for 4 years, competing and translating, making sure every note was perfect, and every accent correct. Italian music, classical and folk, is gorgeous. I wish I could hear more of it. Even the spoken language has a musicality to it. When I listen to the locals converse, they all seem to speak in the same musical key. There is a melodic quality to their speech. It feels like music. I can see why music comes so naturally to this culture.

The most wonderful thing about being in Italy, for me, has been identifying with a culture I always felt I belonged too. Stepping off the plane, I looked around and thought I had stepped into a family reunion. There is something very comforting about recognizing all the faces in one city. I have never had that before. The most Italians I have ever been around where in Philadelphia visiting my sister, and that was still very different from this. Here, I recognize the mannerisms that have continued to be passed down into my American version of the culture. The hand movements, the projected voices, the appreciation for beauty, and the appreciation for good food. My cousin, Peter, told me that the first time he visited Italy, he felt like he was coming home. I have to say I agree. It's nice to be home.


  1. how wonderful for you to come home to rome. i especially enjoyed this blog.