How it starts: Mimi goes to Italy

Hi, I’m Mimi Torchia Boothby, a watercolor painter/blogger. Maureen has invited me to do some guest posts on her blog. I love the idea of collaborating like this so I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a recently retired and recently widowed resident of the pacific northwest. I share my home with three cats and thanks to Facebook, I have friends all over the world.

tomfrankI was born to children of Italian immigrants. My grandparents were born in Italy, spoke with accents, and cooked wonderful foods. From an early age, I was very interested in them and asked them all questions about their childhood but their short answers did not satisfy my hunger.

I took Italian in High School in an attempt to learn my grandparents’ language, but I didn’t learn much. My grandfather Tom Torchia and I exchanged short letters in Italian for years.

The first chance I could, in 1989, I talked my mother into going to Italy with me (I couldn’t go alone!). My husband financed my whole trip with a surprise $800 bonus check he’d gotten. With the help of many friends, because my Italian was so poor, I had been writing to cousins in Italy, and so we had a place to stay in Romelagiara-216x300 and a place to stay in Calabria. I played language tapes in my car, and built a small vocabulary before that trip, but my lack of language was a terrible handicap.

Traveling with my mother was not the best of experiences; although, I am glad I did it because it’s the only time she’s ever been to Italy, I got her there. We had different agendas, there were a lot of issues… It was years before I traveled again: I really really wanted to but I had to wait until my children were raised.

My husband and I planned a trip to Italy in 2001. I took Italian classes and private lessons for months. I found a private tutor, who became a friend for life. Every week, I went to this young college student’s house, and she poured out all her frustrations and happiness to me in non-stop Italian while I tried to absorb it. It was an excellent learning opportunity.

Our trip was wonderful. My husband fell in love with Italy and I could actually speak to people. We stayed with the cousins in Rome again, we also visited my tutor’s family and even made it back down to Calabria, where my cousins insisted that my husband was more Italian than I was (by nature, not by blood).

I made a few more trips with him, he was a lot better suited to traveling with me than my mother was, but there was a lot of compromise. Eventually, he got extremely involved in extreme cycling and I, on the other hand, had lots of vacation time to take on trips to Italy. He had used his vacation time on bike trips. So, terrified, I started planning my first trip to Sicily alone because he just didn’t have the vacation time to do it.

 out for a walk

Mimi is a prolific blogger in her own right (and a terrific painter). Pop over to her site, Watercolors by Mimi and you’ll see what I mean. 

Thanks for playing, Mimi!



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