We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Murder Mystery set in Venice for your reading list!

Ciao tutti!

Often I am asked to either give an assist to authors in their research of Venice for their novel or to review a new book that has something to do with Venice.   What luck!  Just when I was in need of a little dose of Venice, the perfect "fix" arrived- a copy of Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker to read and review.

I'm going to cut right to the chase. This is a 2 thumbs up from Karen. Venetian Blood ticked all my boxes.  It's a fast moving murder mystery that will have you up late unable to stop reading, for several reasons. First, the plot is full of intrigue and twists. You won't be able to figure it out it's that good.  The characters will compel you to follow their story and get into what makes them tick, in particular, the protagonist Anna Lucia Lottol.   She's a successful 40-ish Italian-American who has been accused of a murdering a Venetian count with whom she has had a brief affair. As the local polizia are all pointing fingers directly at her, Anna is tenacious in attempting to prove her innocence. You'll be rooting for her vindication.

And if a good murder mystery isn't enough, Volker has tossed in a bit of romance (who could resist a good love story set in Venice? ), a bit of betrayal (yes, just to make it a bit juicier!), and a family secret or two to unravel. Yes, this ticked all my boxes.

Being set in Venice is just icing on the cake, and it's some very beautiful icing. The author doesn't just write, which she does well, by the way; she paints Venice just as you would want it.  She uses the sights and sounds of this seductive city complete with accurate details for those of us who know the city well and might be looking for a slip here or there. Voker did her homework on Venice, and I appreciated it. Volker doesn't disappoint. She enthralls.

So,  for all you Venetophiles like myself, I encourage you to grab a copy of Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City.  Brew a cup of your favorite tea or coffee, snuggle into your favorite reading spot and prepare for a love fest with your favorite city.

If you've read it, or after you have finished it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book.  Happy Reading.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Celebrating in Procida

Ciao tutti!

I've been wondering what would push me to write again. Not that I haven't been thinking about it. I have. Just had so many pressing things to handle during and after the move. The move itself was disastrous (that's another story) and the settling in took much longer than we anticipated (that's a few other stories).  Yesterday was a day for the record books- we received our new residence certificates and Carta d'Identita from the Comune.  Only took about a month longer than we had hoped to get those things accomplished (yes, yet another story there). I really thought that would be the push that got me to the keyboard yesterday.  That's a big milestone. We were officially new Procida residents, and we were ready to celebrate.

 However, at 5:29 pm yesterday, my life changed. Completely out of the blue, unexpectedly, but forever changed. 

And that's what has me writing today. Trust me, this is some big stuff.  I have always written most of my blog posts about my Venetian/Italian experiences so that I'd have a written record of them years later.  What occurred yesterday has got to be one of the most significant- and weirdest- events ever. I must write it so I don't ever forget. And I can't wait to share it with you. 

I, like many other Italian-Americans, always dreamed of researching the Italian family tree, maybe even tracking down some of the family who are still living.  When my mother came to America after the war, she came as a war bride.  I never had any Italian family living in America. Nor did I know any family back in Italy because my mother had been adopted when she was a very young child.  I knew of the adopting family, but I didn't know anything about her biological family. It's always been a curiosity, and a bit of a mystery. 

My mother has always been angry that she was put up for adoption, while an older brother was kept by her family.  She felt abandoned, rejected, and very hurt.  Her adoptive family was wonderful to her, but she never got over that hurt. It has haunted her for her entire life. And she has always refused to talk about her biological family.
When I moved to Italy, I sought out her adoptive family. These people opened their homes and their hearts to me. I have been welcomed and loved up like I was one of their own. But I have always wondered where the biological family might be. Was anyone still alive? Did anyone remember my mother?  Did anyone know what the circumstances were around my mothers adoption. My mother certainly wasn't talking, and the adoptive family, if they knew anything, weren't sharing anything either.  

On the few occasions I brought this subject up with my Italian family, they seemed hurt that I was curious about my biological family. I'd given some thought to going to the Comune in the city where my mother was born to try to search records.  Not wanting to hurt them in any way, I filed those thoughts away. Until recently.

I'm always reading accounts of other Italian-Americans who have successfully tracked down family members by searching at the local city hall or even on Facebook. I still really wanted to know who this biological family was.  I knew only the family last name, my nonno's (grandfather) first name, and the city where my mother was born. 

Yes, I did it. I searched on FB and found a few people in the city where my mom was born with the same name.  Most were young people, but one man was about my age.  I thought there might be a good chance he could be a cousin.  I sent him a FB message, asking if he knew anyone who might have information about my grandfather and/or his family. That was in the middle of March.  I didn't get a response, and promptly forgot all about it. 

Yesterday, at 5:29pm,  a FB messenger window popped up on my computer screen with a message from this man.  He wrote, in Italian, "You have found your family. The man you are asking about was my grandfather."

It took a few seconds for that to sink in. Holy Shit. Holy shit. Holy Shit. Can this be for real? Then he told me his name. Giuliano.  He wrote, "My father named me after his sister Giuliana."  That's my mother. Oh, let the waterworks begin. How weird is this? 

Even though it took months for him to respond, it's bizarre it didn't take lots of searching to find the right person. One message sent, bingo! I have family!  

We had a grand conversation lasting a few hours. There is a ton of family information to cover and we only just scratched the surface. His father is the older brother my mother recalled. That would make him my uncle. For the first time in my life I finally knew his name- Giorgio. And got to see a photo of him!  His father never forgot his baby sister. Giuliano told me his father had wanted to find her his whole life. 

Plans have been discussed for meeting face to face soon. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers, and shared lots of "Holy cow, this is unbelievable" on my end and "Non ci credo!" on his side. I think we are both still pinching ourselves. And later last night he sent a WhatsApp message telling me he'd realized his father's dream.  Mine too!

Through the magic of the internet- thank you, Al Gore, and Facebook- big hugs to you too, Mark Zuckerberg, I found my real blood Italian relatives.  

Life is good. 

Yes, life is good. We are loving every day on this beautiful little island.  Each day we feel a little bit more like we are home. 

I want to send special thanks to all of you for keeping me in your thoughts. I appreciate all the messages and emails asking how the move was going and what we're up to. I needed the space to get through the transition. 

Has anyone else ever tracked down long lost family members? If you have, I'd love to hear how your search went.  As you can imagine, I'm still in disbelief! 

 Grazie mille from Procida!  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yes, finally a blog post from me.

Ciao, tutti!

First, I must thank everyone for sending emails and messages asking me what the heck has happened to me. Why no posts ? I've been keeping a secret, and the time for me to explain has come.

My internet is being disconnected tomorrow morning. (So I had better get this posted tonight!) Tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning the mover will be here. We'll be saying goodbye to the yellow house at the far end of Venice.

I've been sitting on this for months, not sure what to say or how to say it. The simple truth is Venice has become too expensive for us to live here anymore, and so we had to find a place we could afford. Venice also has changed in the last couple of years, and that has made it much more difficult to sustain a life as a full time resident here.

We decided to move south, and found a perfect apartment on the tiny little island of Procida, not far from Naples.

This move is bittersweet for me. I've had nine and a half glorious years in Venice. I've loved every last second.  Wouldn't have traded this adventure for anything in the world!  And ten years here on this blog with many of you following me for that long.  I am grateful for each and every one of you. Many of you have become personal friends over the years. Trust me, my life has been enriched by you in countless ways.

So what comes next?  I have thought about changing the name of this blog.. perhaps The Venice Experience goes South?  Or maybe Procida Tales.  I've already got a few chapters of fun stuff that's happened just in finding the apartment and getting the move executed. No doubt there will be more of my "experiences" to come.  I'd like you to tell me if you have any interest in keeping up with something that isn't connected to Venice, or whatever your preference might be.  Feel free to also let me know if it's of no interest at all. I'll get it.

Mike and I also have a brand new blog that will launch soon, hopefully by June. Look for us on "Hendersons on the Road" where we'll share our travels in, around, and out of Italy.

So now my secret is out of the bag. We're excited about what lies ahead and are eager to begin the next chapter of our life.

Still a few last minute things to throw into boxes before my mover Cristian (yes, we are on a first name basis now. Long story.) arrives tomorrow.

Arrivederci, Venice.