Solo Travel in 1977
In 1977 I had just turned 19. I did something very unusual and very brave, something that was unheard of for a daughter of Italian immigrants. I convinced my parents to allow me to study in Perugia, Italy at the Universita’ per Stranieri. I would board with a family and study and stay abroad from September to December and return in early January.
In early September I started classes at the University. After my breakfast of caffe’ latte and bread with green tomato jam (which was delicious) I set off for my first day of classes at the Palazzo Gallenga. Palazzo Gallenga in the Piazza Fortebraccio was originally a private residence and eventually donated to the city of Perugia.
I had no clue how to get there but my host gave me directions and off I went. I told myself that if I were to get lost I had nothing to worry about since I could speak the language and all I had to do was ask.
I walked through winding streets, typical of a medieval town, filled with the smells of espresso and fresh pastries from the caffe-bars. The streets were filled with people: young and old, children and housewives starting their daily errands, and everyone impeccably dressed. I found my way to the university and once I passed through the front doors I was never the same again.
That period of my life in Italy transformed me. And when I returned home I wanted to bring the people back home. I wanted to bring the smells back home.
In August of 2012 I returned to Perugia with my daughters. I was happy to share Perugia with my daughters even though the Perugia I remember was no longer there.