Saturday, November 11, 2006

Are We Italians?

Since our arrival in the bel paese I’ve received numerous looks of surprise when I open my mouth and out come words that are heavily American-accented, normally accompanied by “ma non e italiana?” Wellll, yes and no, I reply and explain my family heritage. Numerous times the good citizens of Anzio would say, “I know you’re from an Italian family,” or some such comment and so I figured I just blended right in and didn’t give it any more thought.

Until they started asking Bryan if he is Italian. His initial shock the first they broached the question was, “HUH? Iii-o?”

One Anzio resident went so far as to declare Bryan as having “classic Roman features”. It was my turn to respond, “HUH?” But as I looked around at the Romani I can see how he may have thought that, especially in the eyes which are a hazel-y color of not-quite-brown but not-quite-green that I have noticed in the faces of Roman residents. It may give me an identity crisis that they think him Italian instead of me. Do I look like a tourist? Good gracious I hope not.

Perhaps it is because I’m not a native-born Italian and we’re staying for a year, so they wonder why would we be here unless my husband were Italian. Maybe we’ve adapted so well to our environment and have become so comfortable with our life here that he appears so at ease and thus “native”. Or maybe they’re being polite and trying to make conversation. But it’s become such a regular occurrence that we are now beginning to wonder just what his mom may have been up to 45 years ago that she produced an Italian-esque son. His parents are in town right now so I’ve been doing some digging to see if there are some Latin skeletons in the closet, but they assure me that there were no Italian mailmen or milkmen who may have come a'calling. Darn. Would have made a better story and maybe could have garnered us citizenship by birthright if there had been. I guess we just have to settle for looking Italian.

copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider


Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

This is really something! I'd say you're integrating pretty thing you know, you'll be staying longer than a year...
I get "are you from Eastern Europe?" a lot, because I lost my American accent when I speak Italian but now they can't place where I might be from, and I have Lithuania and Poland in my family tree.

Diane said...

I have been asked many times if I am Italian. It might be because I throw around my arms so much when I talk!!! There must be an Italian gene somewhere in the Schneider family!