My vacation to Positano, Italy, was more than merely a good time. On the rocky shore of the Mediterranean’s turquoise blue water, I learned whom my family was, and in turn, who I was. This shore had sheltered the hopes of my Nonna, whom as a thirteen-year- old girl, looked out her window to the vast horizon and dreamt of a place with promise, called America. It was this same shore that my Nonno, as a young man, would spend his time after an exhausting day of work, relieving himself of his stresses with the soft, cool sea breeze. The shore had felt so large to me, as I stood at its rocky edge and inhaled its dewy aroma. My trip to Positano changed my whole worldview and allowed me to decide that my heritage was going to be my career path.
Though being 100% Italian has always been a part of my life through traditions like eating pasta on Sundays and having seven-fishes on Christmas Eve, I began to understand on my trip to Positano that my being Italian meant immense sacrifice from my ancestors. As I paced the piazza outside the gelataria (ice cream shop), I pictured my Nonna and Nonno’s last days in Italy before departing for the United States. I imagined my Nonna would have met her friends in the old-fashioned ice cream parlor, shedding tears and reminiscing about past memories. It was at the chapel of the Madonna that I pictured my Nonno, kneeling in the pew, saying prayers for a safe trip to America and for a lifetime of success when he arrived there. I pictured the heartache of my Nonna’s grandmother when I looked at her former house, imagining the pain she must have felt when she kissed my Nonna farewell forever, never to see her again. And it was at my Uncle Alfonso’s bakery that I imagined my Nonno as a young man with a knapsack on his back, embracing his nine other brothers and sisters and kissing them goodbye with his mind full of dreams and ambitions for his future.
My Nonna and Nonno have allowed my family to be successful here in the United States, and their sacrifice has given me the opportunity to get a premier education that I will continue in September at a university. I have decided to major in Italian studies as a tribute to them and to the culture that is characteristic of nothing more than beauty and love.
If another person had traveled to Positano, what they would have found was a gorgeous beach, friendly people, and delicious food. They would have enjoyed the summer sun, and the great shopping locations. Perhaps they would have spent their days renting a moped and exploring the mountains. All of these things I had found on my trip, yet for me it was much more. I learned that nothing is more important than family, and that nothing is more important than learning who you are. Luckily for me, I found myself when staring out to that vast horizon, on that rocky edge of the sea in Positano, Italy.
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