It was July 2012 when I was in London. I happened to have been visiting the city with my brother Bobby when the Olympics were happening and my other sister Malissa just happened to be there working on event with AMEX. Strange how stories always wind up with these serendipitous tie-ins and it’s usually in hindsight that you connect the dots and truly realize that everything does happen for a reason (or at least that’s the way I like to look at things). Anyway…. I was sitting on a rooftop of a building talking to a strange group of individuals and siting next to a very outspoken women who at some point started talking about the fact that she had been in London for nearly 5 years via America and had no plans of returning to reside. She was there on a specific visa that had allowed her to live and work for 5 years from the states and that she had met someone who knew someone that was able to secure Italian citizenship to those that qualified. This immediately struck my attention being someone who had always dreamed of living abroad. We talked a bit about her experience living overseas and how much she never felt that she fit and belonged in the states and finally she was able to feel free. I understood all too well what she meant as I had always had this yearning (which we can go deeper into this if ever I write book but in the meantime we will leave it at that). Before she left she provided me with an email address of a Peter at ItalyMONDO! I sent an email just a few weeks later and the conversation began with Peter. The process began just a few months after that and my mom, 2 brothers and I were on our way to beginning the process of revisiting our ancestry and becoming citizens of the country that our family had fled from only 80 years previous.
Fast forward to June 2014, it was time to head to Italy to stay in a small town called Fornelli for 2 weeks to start all of the necessary paperwork. What was required of us? To stay in the Molise region and enjoy the land. Little did I know what I was in for.
Upon arrival from Rome and of course getting lost along the way, we finally met up with Peter at a hotel in a town called Isernia. He showed up with a huge smile and an adorable girl by his side, Liviana. We followed them back to the “couldn’t be easier to get to” town of Fornelli (which happened to be located up on top of a mountain in essentially the top of nowhere).
A 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment inside the walls of Medieval castle where the whole city had a combined population of 2000 (with only 300 living actually inside the walls). There were 2 restaurants, 3 “bars” (which aren’t by any stretch of the imagination like American bars), a fruit and vegetable shop, 2 bakery’s and 2 small markets. There was also spot to get your haircut but I don’t believe I ever saw it opened one time. There was little to no fashion influence, no gays and really no nightlife as we know it. But we were determined to have all the fun. This actually isn’t very hard to do with my family considering we could create fun in just about any situation or circumstance. We were confined to this small town for 2 full weeks but were unaware of the magic that surrounded it and the nearby towns of the region. The Molise region is the last remaining untouched true Italian region in the country. It’s the real deal. Not many speak English. Many own land and farms and live off of these resources. Everyone says hello even if they don’t know you. Kids and children talk to strangers with no second glance from their parents. If you are low on cash or don’t have change they tell you to take care of them later. It’s more than just those mentioned but how does one explain every little detail of an entirely different mindset? I guess I could or I guess I could give you an abridged version of my experience so perhaps it entices you to travel to this area and see for yourself. Yep, I’ll go with that! Plus I still have to pack and get ready to hop on a flight to Berlin in a few hours. So, like both reasons... that being said I think this is a good place to stop and continue in a few days with part 2.