My Love Affair With Italy

 

As a 17-year old Italian American from New Jersey, Debbie became obsessed with the idea of traveling to Italy, and during the summer after completing her junior year in high school, she realized her dream when her parents agreed to send her on a student tour for 40 days with no one she knew.  Friendships form with another American student, and with Cesare, an Italian medical student living in the same "hotel."  But what transpires is something no one ever expected, especially her mom. Read more >

Photo Galleries

One of the most frequent comments left by my readers is how much they loved the descriptions of the land. For that reason, this website was designed with that in mind. See the images depicted in the book and immerse yourself in the magnificent 45-year journey that will have you, too, falling in love with Italy.

Chapter One (1970): So She Thinks

When Debbie’s old-fashioned mother agrees to send her oldest daughter to Italy during the summer of her junior year in high school, she never imagines what would happen. This 16-year old is faced with the most unusual circumstances and handles them in the most unusual way. View Gallery >

Chapter Two (1974): What Not to Wear When Crossing the Alps - A Lesson In Stupidity

Four years after her first trip, Debbie travels back to Europe with her two best friends, all aged 21, touring Italy, Sicily, and Switzerland entirely on their own with no preset reservations. They never could have anticipated the issues that arise from the cave homes in Sicily to Italy’s biggest cities and then finally crossing the Alps totally unprepared. View Gallery >

Chapter Three (1993): Finding Grandma's Roots

When Debbie’s father becomes ill, he asks her to accompany him to find his mother’s childhood home in Sicily. But before heading south, Debbie reunites with an old friend she met in Italy 23 years earlier at the age of 17. On Debbie’s 40th birthday, they celebrate in her grandmother’s childhood neighborhood, Sciacca, Sicily, and sleep in Palermo’s most magnificent villa. It is the “gifts” that are dropped along the way that bring her directly to her grandmother’s home, but what occurs after the visit as a result of locating her home changes her life forever. View Gallery >

Chapter Four (2000): Finding Family

After receiving a 100-year old address of her great grandmother’s home before immigrating to the United States, Debbie goes in search of her distant cousins. The way she receives the address is just as extraordinary as the way she locates them. Is it divine intervention? This year, for the first time, she visits Tuscany where she finds solace and happiness with an Italian family on their pig farm. View Gallery >

Chapter Five (2002): God Made Nocturnal Roosters?

At the age of 49, Debbie returns to Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast with two friends for a respite while the three women are all going through extremely difficult changes that will transform their lives forever. In Umbria, they discover a 2,500-year old village where no cars are allowed and is only connected to the world by a donkey bridge.  More family is found, and the most important question is finally answered: Who makes the best ravioli? The North, the South, the Sicilians, or could it possibly be the Italian Americans? View Gallery >

Chapter Six (2003): A Uterus Would Be Just One More Thing to Hurt

Determined to fulfill a lifelong dream, Debbie enrolls in a 100-mile horseback riding trek throughout Tuscany’s most scenic landscape – and the toughest course they offer all year -  a gift to herself for her 50th birthday. Problem: Due to unforeseen circumstances, she’s not nearly qualified but makes the decision to go forward anyway. This fact is not evident to the riding center – until it becomes very apparent.  View Gallery >

Chapter Seven (2004): Dad Beats Me to Navona

A devastating loss sends Debbie back to Italy for a three-month respite, this time enrolling in language classes in Siena, Tuscany, where Debbie becomes an exchange student at the age of 50. This time, the experience of attending such a school where no English is permitted quickly becomes a regret. Visiting tens of medieval villages in remote areas of Tuscany becomes her target. Before leaving Rome, an emotional event in Piazza Navona brings her out of deep depression. View Gallery >

Chapter Eight (2004-5): I'm Living With Hitler's Neighbors

While in school in Tuscany, a German student invites Debbie to stay with them on her next visit to Italy, and Debbie gladly takes her up on her invitation just a few months later.  From her village of Berchtesgaden, a German “jewel” in the Bavarian Alps on the Austrian border, she’s able to visit such stunning places like Salzburg and Vienna. In the end, the trip takes a very surprising turn and becomes a real eye opener, a very sad realization. Soon after her return, a very surprising letter arrives that changes Debbie’s life forever. View Gallery >

Chapter Nine (2008): San Filippo

After spending a few nights on a Chianti vineyard, another dream is realized when Debbie attends a horseback riding academy in the Chianti region of Tuscany with her cousins for a week. Accommodations are a converted, restored stable. People from all over Europe and the U.S. share the dining room table each night. In Rome, another sad reality faces her, and she comes to believe the German female blacksmith she met on the pig farm was, in fact, right: “Romans think they still run the world!” View Gallery >

Chapter Ten (2010-15): The Reunions

The following five years bring four very unexpected reunions over four decades later with people met in Italy and home. View Gallery >

The wait is over. My Love Affair With Italy is here!"

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