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One Italian tradition is to name children, especially boys, after a grandparent — so that would have been Saverio, in our case. But I thought that would be too tricky for the U. On being sweet with children: One really good thing about raising a family here is that people are so into babies and children.

Strangers on the street will go out of their way to be friendly and indulge them. My kids, and kids in general, are often given free pieces of pizza bianca white pizza at bakeries. On a passion for food: Needless to say, food here is so kid-friendly. When we first arrived, I was completely enchanted with the food, in particular with mozzarella di bufala.

We were having a picnic in a piazza in Rome, and we had bought mozzarella and pizza bianca and lardo di colannata, which is basically delicious fat. It was so good, tears sprung from my eyes. When I tell this story, Americans laugh, but Italians become grave and speak about the beauty of mozzarella. Food is so regional in Italy, too.

In Rome, you have cacio e pepe, fried artichoke hearts and pizza bianca. On a national identity: I remember a day early on, however, when I was craving something else. Italian food is not about innovation or fusion. There was actually a big controversy in the city of Lucca because they wanted only Italian food and no other restaurants. That illustrates the crux of where Italy is right now — so many people who live here are from elsewhere, and Italy is struggling with a national identity about how you can be Italian and have other influences, as well. One thing I appreciate about my life here is Artisans Together , the refugee program where I volunteer.

I lived in Niger, West Africa, for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and when I went to the refugee center I found people who spoke the language I spoke in my village and got to re-connect with that community. On public school: Our kids go to public school in Rome. They serve all the kids a primo pasta , secondo meat or fritatta , contorno vegetable and dolce fruit or gelato.

On late bedtimes: Since Italian families tend to eat late, kids end up going to bed even later. This year, Sabina went to a birthday party that ended at midnight, which is late even for me! My kids go to bed around , but sometimes that interferes with playdates — I once picked Sabina up from a playdate at p.

Most of the moms in her class know by now my kids are on the quirky American evening system, fortunately. On getting dressed: Kids dress casually, but adults generally dress much more formally. But he was just hanging at home. In a suit. Then he actually puts on full pajamas to take an afternoon nap. On swimsuits: At the beach, little girls, like Sabina, just wear the bottoms. There are also lots of completely naked kids. Italy is much more relaxed in that way.

It feels nice to swim without a suit! Every woman will wear a bikini — even women in their sixties, seventies, eighties.

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I mean, who wants to shimmy their arms through a one-piece when they need to go to the bathroom? Italians often stay in the place — city, town or even apartment — where they grew up; and I would say that women also rely on their mothers to some degree, but men are more dependent for sure. There seems to be the idea that somehow the male human is only capable of a certain degree of responsibility. He would ask his mom, will you cook for us?

He has a very assertive big sister, so maybe it feels less urgent?

I am also conscious about not shaming him for crying or expressing feelings other than anger. On family pastimes: Since we live in northern Rome, the Villa Borghese feels like our backyard. For socializing, soccer is very big for boys. Birthday party? Kick the ball around. Hanging in park?

1. BIOGRAPHICAL/ARTISTIC VIGNETTES

On returning home: In the U. You get used to the place where you are, but perhaps never quite fully fit in, and then you realize that you feel slightly odd in your home country, as well.

6 Things I Wish I Knew at 20

But the other day I visited the Galleria Borghese , and I walked out and was like, this is just an amazing place. Italy is an incredibly beautiful country, full of art and history. Getting to live in another country is such a rich experience, a really special thing to be able to do.

Our full Motherhood Around the World series including Sweden and Congo , and and 24 surprising things about parenting in the United States. Family portraits by Lena Corwin for Cup of Jo. Colosseum and Piazza Navona photos by Mel. Trevi Fountain photo by Ashlee Moyo. Bidet photo via Ergife Palace Hotel. Soccer photo by Kathryn Ream Cook.

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Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me

Pizza bianca photo by Street Food Artichoke photo by Vicky Wasik for Serious Eats. School lunch photo via Huffington Post. Older men photo via Italy Magazine. Trieste photo by Pauline Boldt for Airbnb.

Borghese gardens by Eduardo. Gelato photo by Susa Mathews.

Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me: A Guide to Living with Impeccable Grace and Style

Galleria Borghese photo by CDN. I would love to meet up with you as i am often in Rome, an artist too, and have two kids the same ages!


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I live in Porto Ercole…. To start, my email is mollyegage gmail. As an expat too I can relate…especially after having two babies here in August! I was freaked out too …but it all went smoothly! Coming from Los Angeles and moving to a small town people! Has been a crazy experience!

Thank you so much for this! We just moved our family to Napoli and it has been wonderful, but also hard and overwhelming. This is very helpful! First of all, I apologize for my English!

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You can say we need to put it into food, music, visual arts…Into the way we dress for ourselves, just to feel good, just to be the better version of what we can be. Great interview. I saw your comment about a taco place and am interested to know where?!!