Family: Mirano, Italy

As I’ve said in previous posts, Mirano was a very small town and it was difficult to find any English-speaking locals. I can’t really tell you that I have a good understanding of family specifically in Italy, though I do feel like I got a good feel for the general culture of the city.  Everything is much slower, and I do mean everything.

From my observations, life just runs at a slower, calmer pace in Italy. As an example, the entire city shuts down in the afternoon. From about 1pm to 4pm, all the businesses and restaurants close. It’s like the entire city take off for a siesta, which at first, I found slightly annoying, but by the end of our month, I felt like I was ready to siesta along with everyone else.  I also learned that most business, including restaurants, also take a full day off through the week. The ice cream store was closed on Thursdays, the bakery where we got Nolan’s birthday cake was closed on Wednesdays.

I can also share stories from two different families living in Italy;

During one of our weekend trips, we went to Florence and met a family that had recently relocated to Florence from California for work; Grace, Dan, and Max.  Max and Nolan became instant friends, so we met up with them our second night in Florence, so the boys could play. I really enjoyed getting to know Grace. She also shared a few things she’s had to adjust to in the move to Italy from the states. Two things stuck with me specifically,

  • First, Grace said one of the biggest differences is the sense of “community” in Florence. She said she quickly found herself knowing her neighbors and speaking to them regularly, which she acknowledged that back in California, like me, she rarely spoke to her neighbors.
  • Second, she explained that kids don’t go to school on Wednesdays — like ever. It’s just a “day off” for them. Parents don’t get the day off, it’s just the kids, so she explained the challenge of working full-time and finding child care for Max on Wednesdays.

During another one of our weekend trip adventures to Venice, we had a 45-min cab ride with lovely driver named Fernando. He shared a lot his family, including his 2-girls, and living in Italy.  He was born and raised in Italy but would move to the United States in a heartbeat.  He basically said that Italy was dying. He said there’s basically been a mass exit of the younger population leaving Italy and a massive influx of immigration.  He had recently moved his family further into the countryside to try to improve the quality of life for his girls. He explained he went to meet his daughter’s teacher and found that of the 20-children in her class, only 5 were native to Italy.  He felt this was a huge challenge for the learning environment for his children because of all the languages the teacher was constantly trying to integrate into the classroom instruction.

Here’s are my research findings:

  • As for working hours in Mirano, I would reference my early comments about how the city runs. The simple fact that the entire city shuts down from 1pm to 4pm, should tell you everything you need to know about the work / life balance in the city.
  • Mirano did have a few parks and we did explore all of them. Most all the parks were busy in the evenings and Nolan made tons of friends. Parks are definitely part of the neighborhood.
  • Coffee shops were also incredible, but more than just coffee shops, I would call them bakeries. We walked to a local bakery regularly, and we always saw the same faces. Lots of people sitting, or standing, drinking their expresso and having a tasty treat. No one was rushing anywhere. On a few occasions, we asked for take-away and it was almost as if we were offending them by not staying and enjoying our treats.
  • A sense of “community” is really engrained into life in Italy.  I can’t even say there is a “community,” it’s almost like … it just IS Italy.

Here’s my final thought on Italy:

  • Italy is definitely a place I would recommend everyone visit. It is an amazing county, with amazing food, and for the most part incredibly welcoming people. Though after 30-days, I know I could never live in Italy. The pace of life in Italy is lovely in short spurts, but at the end of the day, and totally selfish, it would drive me nuts!  If I want an ice cream at 2pm on a Wednesday, I want ice cream at 2pm on Wednesday, period.

So many great memories from Italy, but here are a few of my favorite pictures:

^My favorite picture of Nolan from Italy. He truly learned how to savor his treats in Italy.

^My favorite picture of Jim and Nolan from Italy. This is from our tour of the Vatican City. It was rainy day and overly crowded on the tour. Nolan was getting trampled, so Jim picked him up and carried him for the majority of the tour.

^Nolan and Daddy playing baseball in the yard at the house in Mirano.

^This is one of my favorite pictures of me and Nolan. We are in a B&B in Rome. I am enjoying a cup of coffee, typical me, and Nolan is showing me his Minecraft world.

^This is my second favorite picture of me and Nolan. We are traveling to Sorento on a boat and Nolan fell asleep on my lap. I can’t help but think … by the end of this trip, there is a very strong chance he won’t fit on my lap anymore.

^These are a couple pictures of Nolan playing at the local park at our house in Mirano.

^This is Max! We are excited about the possibility of meeting up with him again in Tanzania! It’s pretty cool to see Nolan making international friendships.

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