After a short flight from Catania to Rome, my entire Italian family was waiting for me right outside of the baggage claim, complete with a welcome sign and roses.
In about twenty minutes we had arrived home in Infernetto, a small region within the Roman city limits.
Even after an espresso in the kitchen with Benito (dad) and Giovanna (mom), I had no problem sinking into a nap coma. Actually everyone was very tired. Apparently, the children got almost no sleep the night before I arrived because they were too excited:) I have the upstairs to myself, which includes a very comfortable bedroom, bathroom, and flat screen TV with American channels included. OK, I'll try to stop rubbing it in...for now;)
Later, I woke up to sweet little knocks on my door, beckoning me down for lunch of fried chicken filets and salad---just like my Spanish madre's. After lunch, I shared some things I had brought them from the States. Benito loved flipping through the Virginia book, the pictures reminding him of all the places that had seen while in their very favorite state. They even named their daughter Virginia (6)! Guilio (son, 9) also seemed to enjoy his Derek Jeter t-shirt (even if it was down to his knees) because he immediately threw it on and wore it all day. I can't wait to see Virginia in her new dance costume. She takes ballet lessons during the school year here.
In the evening, the kids and I spread a number of craft materials out on the kitchen table and set to work with some clay. Art seems to be a favorite hobby of theirs and they have a very impressive closet collection of books and supplies to prove it. I am already so impressed with how good-natured and respectful these children are. They share a room, do their chores, and get along. Even the parents said that their kids rarely fight with one another. Who are these people anyway!?
Before dinner, Giovanna, Benito, and I toasted my first night in Rome with a delicious summer cocktail. I guess you could call it the Italian mojito since it was made with prosecco, sparkling water, simple syrup, and mint. We then enjoyed a delicious meal where Giovanna showcased her signature dish: lasagna, and served it with peach sangria. Apparently she is highly regarded as a very talented cook even among Italians. I think I am really going to like this place:) Dinner conversation was so wonderful that it accidentally lasted until after 11pm. Giovanna and Benito have lived all over the world and they had a number of fascinating stories about their travels, as well as his work experiences with the UN and now NATO. We also seem to share very similar philosophies on raising children and the importance of honesty and keeping an open mind. For this I am more thankful than words can express since a clash in views on discipline and a gross lack of communication proved the central problems for my au pair job in Madrid. It is so refreshing to hear how fondly they speak of the US, the American accent, and especially their favorite state: Virginia.
God is so good. I could not have picked a more perfect family with which to spend the next 3 months. It's a reminder to me that He is sovereign and cares deeply for His children. I need to take this truth and entrust my fear of manual driving in Italy with Him as well. At least they claim Roman drivers are not as crazy as Sicilians, but I guess it's all relative really.