We left Cinque Terre after a few days to catch 3 trains to Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, where my relatives live. We arrived at 10.40pm and there they were with a Welcome sign waiting for us. Mind you we didn’t see them at first and they ended up running down escalators trying to get our attention. And so there we all were – me, Mark, and my dad’s aunty, uncle and cousins. It was so surreal standing there looking at them knowing that they probably knew more about me than I knew about them. After meeting we all went out for pizza and then were in bed by 2am. The next day we went to lunch at my uncle’s house and stayed there for hours. We FaceTimed back home and my dad spoke to his uncle for the first time in years. It was only a quick chat but they spoke about how excited they were to be meeting again in October and at this stage we all had tears in our eyes as we watched them speak. Apart from eating way too much we spoke a lot and I listened to a lot of stories about my Nonno (grandfather) and his family and their reasons for leaving Italy or going back in the case of my uncle. There were so many stories I hadn’t heard before and I sat there listening trying to take it all in, making sure I didn’t forget anything. We went out that night with my cousins and their friends and it was the first time in a couple of months we had been out like that. It was so nice being with a group of people our age especially because so many of them speak English – lucky for us, otherwise we would be the 2 Australian mutes. Getting home at 6am was a shock to our system so we slept in and eventually got up and made our way to the beach where we soaked up not just the sun but the Italian lifestyle.
The next 2 days we spent with family, relaxing, eating of course, talking, listening to stories and even stopping by the local shoe and handbag factories! One of my favourite parts was our last night where we had dinner at the beach with even more relatives and sat and talked. By this stage our Italian had improved dramatically and both Mark and I were able to keep track of other conversations and what was going on around us. At one point during the dinner I stopped and looked around and felt homesick for my family back home but also so comfortable with my family there that I felt at peace. Mark was joking around with a cousin – eating and drinking, some others were talking in smaller groups and my uncle was telling a story of his time in Australia and all I could do was smile at him while he spoke a mixture of English and Italian while telling us about how he loved to dance especially when he was young and in Australia. I had the most amazing few days and I am looking forward to spending even more time with them in August and again in October.