An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cafe', Cafe', Cafe' Paulista

My mother is the eldest of three daughters. When my mother married her handsome americano, her two sisters were still young girls. As a result, when I was growing up my aunts seemed more like older sisters to me.

They were Italian, they were beautiful, they had lots of friends, and they had boyfriends. Need I say more? I wanted to be Paola and Tiziana when I grew up.

Today is Paola's birthday . . . Paola with the most beautiful hair, jet black and shiny, cut in a razor sharp bob that makes her look like Cleopatra. Her boyfriend, Silvio, drove a motorcycle, and nothing was more thrilling than accompanying them around Verona to the mercato, to visit Silvio's family, to purchase a small gift at Standa, Upim, or Coin.

(Paola and me, Verona 1967)

When I received my First Communion I did so in the same church in which my parents married, and the same priest who officiated their wedding ceremony also said Mass for my First Communion.

My Nonna planned a huge celebratory pranzo at a local restaurant, and Paola made 30 place cards for that pranzo, each one capturing a unique characterstic about the person.

There was Renato, a farmer, who loved the whole image of the cowboy americano so much that my parents once brought him a real cowboy hat from Texas and cowboy boots from the American base in Vicenza.

Then there was Sig. Pasquali who loved food, loved wine, loved life. When my brother was baptized, Sig. Pasquali later performed his own ceremony and baptized him again . . . this time with wine to make him an official italiano.

I had the crown because, in my long First Communion dress, I was princess for a day.

My Nonna's card depicted her as an astronaut because she loved to travel. That card turned out to be prophetic because years later, on her first trip to the U.S., she witnessed the launch of a space shuttle in the early morning hours from the balcony of our condo in Florida. It was such an emotional moment for her.

(some of the place cards for my First Communion pranzo, Verona 1975)

So, Paola, grazie for being someone I could look up to. Thank you for your notes and gifts through the years. Thank you for being more like a sister to me than an aunt.

Tanti auguri . . . and I still want your hair.

Bacioni, Bia


Lisa said...

Bia, this is such a beautiful birthday tribute to your aunt. I love reading about your family -- its beautiful traditions and its beautiful people.

Blessings to Paola today!

Tiziana said...

Quando Paola leggerà il tuo blog questa sera (in ufficio non può più farlo), si scioglierà in un lago di lacrime, te lo assicuro.
Penso che sia il più bel regalo che riceverà per questo compleanno.
Grazie per tutti i tuoi bei ricordi.
Ti voglio tanto bene.

Kim H. said...

Okay this post gave me goosebumps. What a beautiful tribute -- sounds like your Aunt is awesome -- and what a lovely picture you painted. Kinda makes me want to take a ride on a motorcycle with a boyfriend off in to the hills. Just dreamin'. A girl can dream, right?!

PAOLA said...

Si, Tiziana ha ragione: mi sono veramente commossa e se potessi piangerei come una fontana!!! Non dovevi farmi ricordare tutte queste sensazioni, cara Maria, perchè oggi mi rimane solamente il rimpianto di non poter più rivivere quei momenti MERAVIGLIOSI . Mi sono ricordata dei segnaposti nello stesso momenti che ho visto la fotografia. Incredibile, li hai conservati!!!! La foto è bellissima e la conservo anch'io tra i miei tesori. Grazie Maria, mi hai dato veramente il più bel regalo di buon compleanno! Smack!

GrandmaK said...

What a lovely post! You have a delightful family! God bless you all!!! Cathy

Amy Jo said...

I so enjoyed reading your post. The placecards are just adorable and so endearing. What lovely sentiments you have written about your aunt. Thank you for sharing with us!

Anonymous said...

Dear daughter, thank you for bringing back so many beautiful memories! We did have a wonderful time when we were all young! That includes me of course and I wonder what I must have done to deserve the "jolly" place card!!!!

Bacini. MOM

Ua said...

Buon Compleanno, Paola, cara zia!
Bacioni, Laura