Vintage photos from the past.

This photo was taken on my first trip to Italy. My husband is half Italian and he took me there to meet his family back when I was around 20 years old I believe. I have gone so many times, my ages all kind of blend in together now. I will always remember that first trip though.

I had never been on a plane before and the first time I would get on one was for a trip that would take many hours of flying over water. I loved it, wasn’t scared at all, and even slept I was so relaxed.

My husband hates flying and couldn’t believe how I could just fall asleep, even during turbulence. He had traveled a lot as a child going back and forth to spend his summers in Italy with his grandfather on his peach farm helping out with all the other cousins. He wasn’t a big fan of the traveling part but he loved his second home country…Italy.

Aunt’s villa in Tuscany.

The photo above of the Nonna on a balcony was taken in one of the small towns we visited on my first trip to Italy. It was either in Bologna where some of my husband’s family lived or a town we were visiting for a market visit. My husband had family all over northern Italy.

The farmers markets were held every day somewhere at different days of the week. You could drive around to visit the different markets or stay in your town and wait for your market to be open in your area.

I loved visiting the outdoor markets. They sold little baby chicks, fruit and flowers, fresh fish, and piles of colorful clothes were piled high on tables where many women would crowd around and look through them. I noticed there was only one style of the shirts available but the clothes weren’t used. Shopping in Europe was so different then the stores I was used to in America.

There were always flowers everywhere.

The clothes were always very pretty floral colors and many had tiny flower patterns on them. Very romantic styles. Just soft girly clothes and all ages were buying them. Lots of really beautiful floral dresses in Italy. I even bought some of the dresses to blend in better with the environment. When ever my husband and I would travel I always tried to not look like an American tourist.

I blended in so well, that the local Italians started coming up to me speaking Italian to me. I unfortunately would only learn a few Italian words on my visits, but the longer I stayed the more words I started to pick up.

On the trip back home another American on a plane back to New York tried to speak to me in Italian asking a question to whether or not he could put his luggage over my seat. Poor guy was struggling too. I smiled and said I’m American, can’t understand a word of all those broken Italian words your trying to say.

My husband (boyfriend at the time) was trying to find another place to store some extra over head luggage of ours. I bought some souvenirs for friends and family and he was trying to find a spot for our carry on luggage because our space was full before we sat in our seats.

When the local Italians came up to speak to me, it was so sad as I couldn’t understand a word they were saying to me and I really wanted to communicate with them, they always seemed so happy about what they were saying, always smiling. I would always say…

“ Scusi , America, solo inglese.” This broken way of me speaking at least let them know I was a stranger in their land. My husband tried to teach me a few Italian words to get me started.

I knew how to order water…

Acqua naturale, non frizzante per favore.

The first time off a plane I would discover I was extremely thirsty, even though I had been drinking water on the plane I was still supper dehydrated when I got off and when I asked for some water from family who picked us up at the airport I took a huge drink and thought I was going to be sick all of a sudden.

” What is that” I asked my husband quietly.

” It’s water” he answered back.

” That is not the water I’m used to, is that what all Italian water taste like.” I was already missing home. I am not really a soda drinker either. Water or water with lemons are my favorite things to drink, but not fizzy drinks.

My husband laughed so hard when he saw my worried look of water tasting terrible to me. He loves the fizzy drinks as he grew up on them. Then he ordered the right water for me and taught me what to say when I needed water after that.

When the Italian strangers at the markets would discover I could not speak their language they always smiled back at me and would then start speaking English to me. I was surprised with how many Italians spoke English, how cool it must be to speak many languages.

My husband is Northern Italian and a lot of the Northern Italians speak English in the business areas. If someone couldn’t speak English back to me then my husband would come over to be my interpreter for me, or one of his cousins who would be with us would be our interpreter. Being mostly in America, my husband’s Italian was not as strong as it used to be and there is also different dialects.

Peacock at the Tuscan farm. Hanging out in the families wildflower fields was one of my favorite places to just sit and read a book or watch a sunset.

Most of these photos are from a day of exploring an outdoor market area.

I was always fascinated by all the little red flowers everywhere . The older women, the Italian Nonnas seem to love to people watch from their balconies. They always reminded me of those little souvenir dolls in the shops everywhere around Italy. Like my husband’s Nonna.

My husband’s Nonna was very kind to me on that first trip. When I told my husband his Nonna was so nice he laughed and told me stories of how she could be mean and how she used her broom to smack you on the head if you acted up. I was shocked when he told me that, she seemed so nice. She couldn’t speak any English though, so maybe she was saying mean things to me and everyone was making up what she was saying to me…now that would have been funny.

Morning view from my window at the villa in Tuscany.

I shared my Kinder eggs with her. I only wanted the prizes from the eggs and after trying the chocolate a few times, I got tired of eating it but I was obsessed with the tiny little toys that came in the eggs. I started collecting the toys and saved the chocolate for Nonna. She was in her late 80’s and still going strong. She ate chocolate and bread for dinner, her main meal was the lunch meal in the middle of the day and afterwards she would take a long nap. Actually it seemed like all of Italy would take a long nap after lunch. Nonna would go on living into her late 90’s.

When we were out exploring the different towns I noticed all the Italian Nonna’s had on little aprons, surrounded by tiny pots of red flowers everywhere. They were always sweeping too, always tiding things up.

Walking by their front doors you could smell the fresh smells of something cooking inside. So many of them would be outside getting sunshine too. If you were lucky enough, you would get a greeting of Ciao which is pronounced Chow ,Or you could get a greeting from someone of Buongiorno, pronounced Bwon-jee-or-no, all depending on the time of day, but only from the really friendly ones.

Buongiorno can be used for saying good day or good morning as well as good by.

I noticed some similarities in the little Spanish I knew and the Italian pronunciations with words as well.

An example of that would be…

How much does it cost?

In Italian it is Quanto Costa and in Spanish it is Cuanto Cuesta. Spanish pronunciation sounds the same to me as the Italian version, which is pronounced ( Kwahn-toh)…you see, very similar. A little different but close enough.

For thank you…

Italian- Grazie and Spanish-Gracias

When my husband would order food for us he would always say Due, which means two and in Spanish Two is Dos. So that’s a big difference there. Growing up here in Arizona, it being a border state, you can’t help but pick up some Spanish.

I love living in a border state. I have had many Hispanic friends and families over the years. That would be another thing I would miss about Arizona if I didn’t live here…our Hispanic culture.

Oh…and when you answer the phone in Italy you answer with Pronto which means ready. In America we answer with hello? like we are waiting for an answer for someone to continue speaking. Isn’t language fascinating?

The photo of the Nana above is one of my favorite photos from my first trip to Italy and my second favorite Italian photo is of my daughter around 15 months old when we were visiting family for Easter at the villa. We were there for a whole month that year.

There is so much more I remember from that first trip. Pulling up those memories is like a movie in my brain. It drives my husband bananas sometimes with the detail of my memories. The clothes, the surroundings, even whole conversations sometimes. I am terrible with names though. But pictures and images, like glue in there, and so beautiful. What a trip that was for a first trip flying. Hope you all enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me. Happy traveling adventures everyone.

There wasn’t a lot of room in our luggage for Easter basket toys for my daughter for our trip. I ended up making a basket at the farm myself with fabric, and then I made a teddy bear for my daughter as well. My husband’s aunt had a bunch of old coats in her closet and we spent a day sewing up teddy bears for gifts.