Chapter 3

Updated: Jun 15

The new Me

During the years spent at the University, I shared an apartment with some girls. As every University student does, my wish was to study thoroughly in order to succeed in life but I also wanted to have fun.

The strange thing with me was that my own fun was to finish as soon as possible and go to the States.

I was obsessed.

I must recognize I had very little “traditional” fun in those years; I adored what I was studying, it was just a forbidden dream to become an interpreter for me, not having studied English in a regular school before University.

I had 40 hours of mandatory courses per week.

I passed 40 exams: 20 in English and 20 in French. Mainly: English and French translations, from and into the foreign language, consecutive and simultaneous translations, technical documents – which consisted in all the technical words in several subjects we were supposed to learn, literature culture, political economy, private law, public law and typewriting.

My main goal was to leave as soon as I was finished but I had no clue where to go for a year.

But, as we all know, destiny is destiny and I always felt I had that destiny, no matter how hard it would have been.

In 1985 I spent two months attending a full immersion French course in Villefranche-sur-mer: 8 hours per day. Started Avancée 1 and finished Avancée 2. An amazing stay speaking French and learning lots of new things. And great fun because I met outstanding souls who have been my best friends all over these years.

I met Carol from Vancouver Canada, a Japanese Canadian dentist with whom I am still in contact and visited me a couple of times, she has just invited us to go there, but we never find the time to go away for a long trip, due to our work.

I met Michael from Alameda, California who was a dear friend for many years, I met Bjorn, a fantastic young man form Oslo, Norway who is still a friend, with whom had a great time on the French Riviera and visited in Paris while he was doing a University Degree in Economics.

I met Andrew from Mildura, Australia, who was studying Oenology at the Bordeaux University and now runs an amazing Vineyard.

But above anyone, I met Elaine, my dear friend , who was my next door neighbour in Villefranche-sur-mer. She was older than I am but we became immediately excellent friends and the last day we were there, I also met his extraordinary husband Michael, who was so friendly and warm that while he was hugging me, he invited me to go to their home after finishing University for as long as I wished.

Oh my God, that sentence stayed with me for days, I kept thinking if they really meant that.

That would have been my dream, staying with friends, in a real American family.

The last year and my last stay at the Sorbonne in Paris ended, I graduated and it was time to see whether that could have been a real option.

Elaine visited me here in Italy, met my parents and we had a wonderful time together and she renewed that invitation so we discussed about it and I seriously accepted.

The big issue was that my friends were and are so generous and incredible that never accepted my parents to pay for me. I spent 1987 and 1988 with them , coming back end of March 1988 and each single day, they treated me like their 4th child.

All of my life I will be grateful, eternally grateful to Michael and Elaine for the love and the friendship they have shown me.

What I learned in Phoenix was that I was another person, I became more confident in myself every day.

Since the very first day, I met hundreds of wonderful new people.

I had a very busy social life and I was out every night.

Every American I met treated me in the most genuinely warm way. Everyone was sweet, attentive to whatever I was telling me.

Because the thing is… I have millions of things to say every day.

My heart and my soul are and always have been full of things to say, of feelings and emotions to tell, yet you must find a listener and it is not that easy.

Elaine and Michael were my family.

I managed to attend Phoenix College for a semester and studied Spanish. I taught French and Italian.

I visited this stunning State of Arizona: Flagstaff, the unforgettable Grand Canyon, Tucson the Sonoran Desert, had an opportunity to do interesting things such as following a yoga class with a new friend, attending a lecture of an Indian Hopi Doctor lady who has just delivered a baby three days before and explained how the American Indians face birth.

Every week I attended NBA plays, Michael was the orthopedist of the Phoenix Suns team, I met and saw lots of famous players: Kareem Abdul Jabar, Magic Johnsons, Larry Bird.

Michael and Elaine were so generous to take me along wherever they would go, to charming French restaurant like “La Chaumière” or to cozy Italian trattorias like “La Fontanella”, met Italian Americans and lots of different nationalities.

I was exposed to different religion and background and that was what made me grow as a human being.

My friends are Jewish American so I had the privilege to meet Rabbis and go to Synagogue. Even if I am a Christian believer and a Catholic, I loved being exposed to different religions and felt what I strongly believe now.

Religion is our relationship with a superior entity, we may or not have it in our life. When we do have it, we can call it and express it I different ways but it is exactly like with the language we speak.

If I were born in Israel, I would be Jewish, but I would be the same Anna. I don’t want to sound primitive in my reasoning but I strongly believe that religion is an expression of our spiritual need, if we do recognize it or have it in our heart.

When our heart is pure and we mean well, there is no good or bad religion. We are not right or wrong. As long as we are pure and sincere, we are right.

I realize now that the fundamental ideas and concepts I have built in my conscience and soul started there, many miles away from home, where I had no contacts with anyone who would remind me of my Country and family. I would call my parents once a week and write long letters, there was no internet at the time and it was very expensive to call.

My life was so happy I America.

I visited Las Vegas three times, California several times, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Went to Mexico three times and spent two unforgettable weeks in Mazatlan with a lovely young woman I met on the plane who studied architecture in Florence. She invited me for two weeks and I di go, it was amazing.

Cultural shocks were the real moments of growth for me.

Seeing the diversity of life in Mexico, understanding why there are so many problems due to the inequality they unfortunately experiment, enjoying the warmth of the people both in Mexico and in America made me feel so welcomed and appreciated.

The thing I loved the most was that I was not appreciated for anything else, but being Anna.

In Italy I was always the daughter or the granddaughter of someone.

In Italy I was never judged for who I am but for what my family represented in town.

It is an everlasting issue to be considered a “little princess” because I come from a family that in the past was wealthy and had a beautiful home and lots of land.

This is and was one of my biggest issues. I have always wanted to be considered for what I really am, for what I do and for what I have created on my own.

It is not a fault and no one is guilty if he/

she is born wealthy or with privileges.

You can be born poor and not work hard all throughout your life, and for me, you deserve nothing.

What I mean it is not a fault to be born wealthy, nor it is a quality to be born poor.

We are what we create with our own forces and mean.

Of course, I am honest enough to recognize that it is a huge advantage to have the financial means to do good studies and receive a solid upbringing and education. Yet, not necessarily you become educated only because you had the means to study.

My concepts are very simple and rustic, but I have learned over the years to use the common sense and speak and express my opinions in a very simple way.

Like when I cook. I like to have a simple and rustic cuisine.

My values are like my ingredients in the kitchen, if they are real, authentic and good, life and cuisine are perfect to me.