Post by Tommaso Gambino
In 2018, the Friends of Italy Society of Hawai`i, will happily invite you all on a bi-weekly blog odyssey to Italy. Together we will endeavor to discover, share and enjoy our common heritage and interest in Italia. Our postings will begin with a visit to Rome. We’ll be in the company of some of the great actors that shaped our western civilization. We will visit Rome’s history, culture, architecture and local points of interest. We will also look forward to experiencing the spirit and life that is contemporary Rome today.
Like many of you, I was raised in a typical Italian American family. As most of us do in our younger years, I soaked up my surroundings and imagined that the rest of the world was like my neighborhood; filled with Italian-Americans sharing space with the occasional Anglo-Americans and some other hyphenated groups. As I grew older, I wondered how and why my Italian culture was different from the others. I asked myself: “What does it mean to be Italian?” It was an enigma!
The beginning of solving this personal puzzle was to gain exposure to Italian culture, history and to discover my long-lost heritage. I began my pilgrimage to find my hidden persona by studying at the University of Perugia in Italy where I became fluent in Italian. With the language as key, I started to discover.
As a student, I hitchhiked, months on end, up and down the peninsula surrounded by the divine Mediterranean Sea. I became familiar with a spectacular country and its people whose history covered over three millennia. The extraordinary snow-capped Italian Alps that defined the top of the famous boot, along with the rolling Tuscan countryside and sun-drenched south was my playground. Through my exploration of the country and as a direct consequence of acquiring knowledge of my heritage; I began to feel an attachment to my newly found brethren. I had a sense that I had arrived home. My personal puzzle had been solved.
I welcome all of you to come along with me on our odyssey. Bring your walking shoes; as in two weeks’ time, we will enjoy–A Morning in Rome.”
Friends of Italy Society of Hawai`i