More Answers: On Going Home Again

This past weekend, along with Cherrye of My Bella Vita, I had the pleasure of meeting Leanne of From Australia to Italy and her (Calabrian) Bel Ragazzo (left). . . and I’m sorry to report that we took precisely *no* photos!

I don’t know how it happened either, but one of us definitely should have pulled out the macchina fotografica to record the expressions on our faces when our waiter told us that not only was there no pizza for lunch, there was no *anything* besides fettucine with eggplant. *After* we had looked at the menu for fifteen minutes.

Always an adventure in Calabria!

Anyway, in honor of our visit, I’m answering Leanne’s questions today:

(1) I don’t think you have ever been back to the US since the move to Italy. Do you hope to take P in the future so he can see your country and your ‘old’ home?

(2) Are you trying to teach or do you want to try and teach P English?

Last things first, as for teaching P English, he really has very little interest, although when my mom was here he did try a bit. I’m pretty sure he’s all set on the morning *and* evening greetings now, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Honestly though? I actually kind of like that he doesn’t speak English since I can talk freely on the phone with English speakers, i.e., rant and complain about him, his family, etc.—although he does always seem know when I’m talking about him, so I think he understands more than he lets on.

Now, on the first question, I actually *have* been back to the States once since moving here; after I was here for six months, I was back in the US for three months. I do hope that P would eventually get to see the US, but most importantly, where I grew up, places I used to hang out and, of course, get to meet my family and friends!

I would *love* to take him for a walk around my town (all two streets of it) and point out things like:

“Here is the bar where I used to get Swedish Fish for a penny a piece on Sundays even though by law it shouldn’t have been open; the lights and television were always on super low and the neon beer signs outside weren’t lit to make it seem like it was closed if you were just walking by.”


“This is where I watched my brother hit homeruns in Little League and was even a cheerleader for a couple years when I was six, seven years old; I probably still have that green and gold uniform with the big A on the front of the shirt somewhere. This is also the field where we played tackle football in the winter in the snow.”


“Right there, there used to be an old, rickety, wooden house that creaked and swayed in the wind. On Tuesday evenings, the fire company used it for practice, but on other summer nights, my cousin and I used to sit on the merry-go-round at the adjacent playground and watch the house for hours, absolutely sure that we saw something moving in the sheer curtains in the upstairs window.”


“This is where we used to go to pick berries and look for arrowheads and rocks, especially quartz, and swim in big ole stripmining holes that are now filled with the most gorgeous blue water. Yes it’s quite dangerous, but it’s like an initiation rite for a Coal Region kid.”

*Le sigh*

Yes, Leanne, I would *love* to have that opportunity. Absolutely.

What would you include on a tour of your hometown(s)?

21 Beans of Wisdom to “More Answers: On Going Home Again”
  1. Gil

    Do you have any idea how deep the crater is? I heard about a planned community being built around a old quartz mine, reportedly 600 feet deep, in Baltimore. Kind of scary to think that kids will be swimming in such a deep place.

    Not much to show my wife where I grew up as we have both been living in the same area of Connecticut all of her life and most of my life. On the other hand I have shown my wife and children some of the areas where my parents grew in NYC.

    I don’t know how deep it is, and the only info I found is here, which says it’s 200 feet in length and 60 feet wide, but no mention of depth. I can tell you that legend has it that cranes and rescue vehicles are still in there somewhere….

    In any event, all these stripping pits are *very* dangerous to swim in; we’ve had far too many people die doing so, in fact 🙁

  2. 08.19.2008

    I’ve heard that before – no pizza in the pizzeria. You’ve gotta laugh.

    Delina’s last blog post..Soaking wet hair

    That happens to me so often here, Delina, I barely even notice it anymore…crazy 🙂

  3. 08.19.2008

    I don’t have a hometown! Never lived anywhere longer than 2 years at a time…and we are not a military family! The house I lived in longest was in Molfetta Vecchia – 11 years of dust and mold, wow!

    Saretta’s last blog post..Sunday with Nonna

    Wow, Saretta, you were *destined* to see the world 🙂

  4. 08.19.2008

    I am sure you will get P to your other home one of these days, and at least he will be able to greet people in English. 🙂
    And how silly we have no photos from the other day as I would love to have snapped a photo of the waiters face when he found out Cherrye’s eyes were real!

    Leanne’s last blog post..Leaking walls & cigarette butts – schifo

    Hah! Another great moment! I briefly thought about getting out my camera at the beach, but then with all that sand flying around….

  5. I even ran upstairs when Leanne and Bel Ragazzo were changing to grab my camera …

    I have it, though … all “in here.”

    (My mind, Michelle… my mind!)

    Cherrye at My Bella Vita’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday: Top Five BT Magazine Travel Tips

    Gotcha 😉

  6. 08.19.2008

    What would I show on a tour of my hometown? I think the best things are the farmers market downtown and Springbank Park, a nice big park that also includes a kids area called Storybook Gardens.

    running42k’s last blog post..What is new

    Sounds like fun!

  7. Sheesh – I don’t know where I’m from, either. Everywhere and nowhere, I guess… if I were to take someone on a tour of my past, it would have to include the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Lucy the Elephant in Avalon NJ, Key Biscayne in South Florida, Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park and Muir Woods in Marin, Beach 67 and the little beach past Milioli’i as well as the Mauna Kea summit on the Big Island, the Salton Sea and the old smuggler caves in San Diego… and, of course, the Swan Boats of Boston.

    Whew. I’m tired!

    paul of crazy like whoa’s last blog post..Day 2: 3,329 words

    Sounds like a fabulous road trip…you’re good at those. And look at that word count! Woohoo!

  8. 08.19.2008

    I lived 3 places growing up.

    My tour would include, the house my parents built from *scratch* with their own two hands, the schoolyard where I fell and scarred my knees on that push-in-the-middle-merry-go-round, my high school, my church, the tiny local market in town and the dude ranch where I had my first waitressing job.

    Not much to do where I grew up.

    Yeah, I grew up in the sticks 😉

    My Mélange’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday : The Ziploc Bag

    Hah, as you can probably tell from the stops on my hometown tour, I didn’t exactly grow up in a metropolis either 😉 Would love to see that house!

  9. 08.19.2008

    The last place I lived before college was Woodstock, NY, so I guess that’s my hometown as much as anywhere else. I’d include in the tour:

    – Overlook Mountain and running through the ruins of the burned-out hotel up top
    – the Artists’ Cemetery
    – a slice at Woodstock Pizza
    – playing on the swings at the Rec Field
    – a walk down Tinker Street, but no stopping for a tie-dye 🙂
    – circling the Town Green at night, when the locals hang out
    – and, of course, chocolate chunk ice-cream cones at Taco Juan’s

    nova’s last blog post..Sisters

    OK I’m loving all this food especially…sign me up!

  10. HAHA! I love that you can complain in English and no one knows what you’re saying. It would be great if you two could visit the US again together…I’m sure you’d have some great stories!

    erin :: the olive notes’s last blog augustine photo tour :: evening downtown

    Oh I’m sure there would be stories Erin…imagine the fun I’ll have translating for an entire vacation! Woohoo!

  11. 08.19.2008

    I would be willing to bet that P understands much more than he would tell you! lol I loved your memories of your home town. Unfortunately, my hometown is nothing like it used to be (but then I’m much older than you…there have been a lot of changes). The field where we used to play and ride horses(and which Mr. Holder used as a landing strip for his tiny airplane) is now a part of D/FW airport. The crawdad hole where we baited string with bacon and waited to catch those critters has a Denny’s restaurant smack dab on top of it. The “forest” of mesquite trees was razed to make way for a parking lot. Sigh.

    This Eclectic Life’s last blog post..The Signposts of Life

    Oh boy they really *did* pave paradise and put up a parking lot 🙁 Actually I’m not really sure that all these things are still in my hometown either, but I can at least show him where they *used* to be 😉

  12. Tina

    Oh that’s easy. I’ve given this tour to so many people. It’s the “Tina’s Seattle” tour. Doesn’t include everything, just my favorite places.
    I’d walk from Capitol Hill down Olive Street, to get downtown. Along Olive there is some pretty nice architecture once you get downtown.
    We’d continue down this street and go straight to Pike Place Market, where we’d smell fresh flowers and strawberries and I could point out the Italian grocer that I would always go do. Maybe we’d pick out some olive oil. We’d stop at Le Panier for a cafe au lait and watch people walk by before continuing to meander through the market. We’d sample truffle oil at La Buona Tavola. (this is all in the Market).
    We would head into Post Alley to the Tasting Room and order a wine flight. Mmmmm Washington wine.
    With the crackers and cheese of course!
    Then we’d get back up to first and walk to the historical Pioneer Square area.
    Make our way back up to Capitol Hill and walk around Volunteer Park before stopping at the Joe Bar for a coffee on the upstairs level.
    Dinner would be at the Thai restaurant down the street from there. I forgot the name. 🙂

    Tina’s last blog post..A day in the life…

    Oh my goodness, book your ticket, I’ll book mine…when can we meet in Seattle?!

  13. 08.19.2008

    My neighborhood is basically demolished – almost nothing of what I grew up with is still there. It was a victim of Urban Renewal in the late 70s/early 80s.

    I could show them where we used to play hide and seek in various exhibits in the Natural History Museum back when admission was free, where I used to go in Central Park, what various businesses “used” to be, the outside of buildings where I went to school (one is now an office building and the other is a minimum security prison).

    That’s about it…

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..This Man has Class with a Capital “C”

    Oh that’s too bad Jen, but at least you have those memories, which I imagine are extra-special since the places really only exist in your memory.

  14. 08.19.2008

    I used to dream about the opposite…taking my American boyfriend to visit all the places in Italia that I loved as a child. The cemetary so he could “meet” my nonno and all the relatives that passed before he could visit Italy. Il Calimero – the beach stablimento where I used to spend countless hours every summer hanging out with my friends. The crab apple tree that my cousin and I used to pick apples from to use in our famous “mud pies.” The church where my parents got married.

    None of my boyfriends ever made it to Italy with me except for my now husband. He has been twice and both times have been filled with nostalgic trips down memory lane. Now if he would only learn to speak Italiano!!!

    Italiamissima’s last blog post..Rocking and Rolling

    So lovely! I love hearing childhood memories no matter where they’re from 🙂

  15. 08.19.2008

    You made me all sentimental and misty eyed.

    All of those places and moments are still strong in your heart and mind. I love that. Hold them dear. And, if you tell P all about them, then he will be there with you in those times and places, too.

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..Showers, Surprises and Suppositions

    Goodness I remember these things like I just went to the bar/candy store yesterday…I’m so happy to have recorded them just in case I stop remembering the smell of that place 😉

  16. 08.19.2008

    My whole comment got lost.

    So here we go again:

    Your hometown sounds lovely – I’d like to visit myself.

    Can hear that house creaking here in New York 😉

    Frances’s last blog post..random New York window

    Oh no Frances! So sorry about the lost comment, but thanks for coming back and listening to the creaking house 🙂

  17. 08.19.2008

    Some mornings I lie in bed and talk my Belgian around the South Island of New Zealand. It’s about 700kms long and 200kms wide … I used to love going on a ‘bit of drive’ with friends and overseas guests. There’s so much to see, he’s heard it all.

    Thankfully he’s perfect in English because I’m hopeless in Dutch and because they all speak English (or so it seems) here on the Flanders side of Belgium, I’m getting away with not being a good student of language. I have been learning Italiano quietly … best I don’t tell anyone here though 😉

    Ooh sounds like a lovely way to pass a morning…and great job on the Italian!

  18. 08.20.2008

    Oh, I enjoyed this tour, too! I hope you get to share it with P. someday. (And I’d love to hear your translations…)

    anno’s last blog post..And Another Monday Meme-ing…

    Heh, me too!

  19. Scicchi

    Great tour of your old stomping grounds, Michelle!

    Now knowing P and where he has grown up, what do you think his impression would be of your hometown?

    Great question! When P and I were first getting to know one another, I think he just assumed that I was *from* Philadelphia since that’s where I had lived for five years before moving here. And, well, we know *that’s* not the case at all. From my experience, a lot of Italians have the impression that America is all cities, actually, so it took little stories here and there for P to understand just how small-town everything is where I (we!) grew up and that it’s actually quite similar to here.

    I really think he’d feel right at home in the Coal Region other than the language…heck, he could even get suppresata and such 😉 If only more of the older generation was still around to speak Calabrese with him!

  20. Dana

    “so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.”

    I laughed out loud when I read that. Michele, was that an intentional Caddyshack quote??? 🙂

    As for a visit to my hometown, I was born in Metuchen, New Jersey, but moved to San Diego when I was five, so I consider that my hometown.

    A visit to Balboa Park is at the top of the list; a drive down the 101 along the ocean; Little Italy (of course) 🙂 to my favorite coffee bar and farmer’s market, down to the bay; The Whaley House in Old Town, driving over the water to Coronado; the Marston House for arts and crafts architecture, 5th street in Hillcrest or Adams Avenue for the bookstores, just for starters. 🙂

    Caddyshack is one of *the* most quotable films of all time, IMHO. Don’t get me started on the Dalai Lama….

    And I’m loving that tour of San Diego; sounds so lovely!

  21. 08.21.2008

    Home for me is small-town Oklahoma, so it would be . . .the house where I grew up, my grandparents’ old house, the golf course/airport runway/site for oil pumping jacks at sunset . . . Crybaby Bridge out in the boonies (oooh, scary). . . the park where we used to have cheerleading practice in the summer, the baseball fields where I first held a boy’s hand . . .my old church, the cemetery across from our old neighborhood where we used to spend entire days playing (!!) . . .the dirt road I used to drive down once a week in my Dad’s F-150 to get to my piano lessons . . .my uncle’s drug store . . . then I would drive out north of town crossing into Osage country and just show off the big blue skies and rolling hills, and maybe head to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve.

    I’ve had the pleasure of showing my Italian husband home; the first time we went, in August 2006 before heading off on a half-cross-country drive (i.e. Oklahoma to L.A. on basically old Route 66), he wanted to know what in the WORLD we would do at my parents’ home (because he knew it was small town). I said silly, it’s August, we’ll spend all our time next door at Aunt Carol’s pool! And visiting Grandma, and jumping on the trampoline with my cousin’s kids . ..

    By the morning we left for Santa Fe, he was drinking his coffee standing at the stove in my parents’ kitchen, looking out and down below the bluff to the Arkansas River below, and said, “It’s a shame we’re leaving already. It’s very relaxing here.”

    I even got him to listen to country music!!!

    I love that you love so much where you’re from, Michelle. I enjoy ‘the world’ so much, but I still take great pleasure in being from someplace ‘unique’ and special. I get the feeling the same is true for you.

    Kim B.’s last blog post..A Happy Day in the Barbee Family

    Absolutely Kim! No matter where I go, I always know where I’m from–as much as I wanted to get the heck out of there when I was a teenager! And truth be told, I’m not sure I’d want to *live* there again, but it sure is nice to have those memories and a place to visit 🙂 Thanks for sharing your hometown tour!

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake