I am a 3rd generation American, and it wasn’t until I went to Procida, an island off the coast of Naples, Italy, that I truly gained pride for my Italian heritage. I had never been to Italy before, and when my parents planned a trip to go on a Mediterranean Cruise, I was ecstatic. We visited several places including Venice and Rome, but none could compare to the island where my family originated, Procida.
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When we first got off our small taxi boat and onto the dock, I was very disappointed. All I could see was a row of run down shops and restaurants, and it didn’t look like much. But then my parents and I began an adventure. We traveled down several streets and went into stores, one in which when my mother handed the cashier her credit card the woman smiled and pointed at her name. She explained (to the best of her ability, since English wasn’t really her strong point) that there are a great number of people in Procida with my mother’s maiden name.
I felt a strong sense of belonging at that moment – being in a place I had never been to in my entire life, but having connections with the people living there. Then we saw several beautiful buildings as we climbed a steep hill, going higher up the island. We followed our map until we arrived at theabbey of St. Michael the Archangel, where my great-great-grandparents were married and also where my great grandparents were baptized. The church was stunning, and on our way out I purchased a bracelet as a keepsake, and still wear it today.
After admiring the church, we continued our journey back. But, as we were walking down the steep streets, a little platform caught our eye. It was just an extension of sidewalk on the side of the road that went out overlooking the side of the cliff-like island. We crossed the street and looked out over the water and the island, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The water was crystal blue with moving boats in it that made it look almost like planes in the sky, and you could see every single building together, instead of each on its own. The colors were breathtaking; the whole scene was simply immaculate. I formed the biggest smile on my face, knowing that this is where I came from – this beautiful place filled with wonderful architecture, delicious food, and friendly people. I took several pictures that day, without a doubt the most pictures I had taken on the entire trip.
When I returned home, I looked through all of the pictures and I got a little sad. The fact was that there was this beautiful place, but almost everybody had no idea about it. So, I decided to take one of the pictures I had taken from that day, and paint it on a large canvas. It was hard to do and it took me a very long time, for it was the largest painting I had ever done. And when I was finished, I proudly showed it to all of my friends and family, telling them where the Island of Procida was and what it was like there. I then decided to give the painting to my Uncle Anthony, since he is considering retiring there one day. I’m not sure if he actually will; but I really hope he does. Because if he does retire there, maybe I can return to Procida one day to visit him. And if he doesn’t, well, I think I’m making it a goal of mine to go back one day regardless.
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