Family Stories on International Women’s Day

This post is for the women in my family. I have tried to find a picture for each of them that would represent how I see them and what I feel their character was and is to me. I’m from a generation that was raised by women. My teachers were women. What I do today is mostly because of the strong, passionate  women I have around. Thank you for your influence,  your guidance, your example.

So I was blond. Cool. Moving on. 

This first picture was taken in Pesaro in 1970, a city I would get more familiar with years later, while serving in the army.  There are so many stories crammed in just this  one image that I don’t even know where to start. But since we are talking about ladies, I thought I should start from these two. Lilla was my dad’s mom and Ada was my mom’s. One taught me how to talk the other how to cook. If you would ask me about the two most different people I know I would say without even thinking: Lilla e Ada. Two universes that would never collide. 

Lilla was probably the smallest person I know, an avid crossword puzzle solver, she would walk around the neighbourhood in search of violets that she would keep alive in teeny tiny little glass jars. She was a card reader, and locally known future teller, and she could iron and fold a button down shirt in less than 45 seconds,  with creases that would give you a paper cut.  She would stitch a pocket on all of her dresses, you know, to keep some change handy or a handkerchief. And that to me has always been a hint that she was a game changer.

Ada was a true force of nature. She grew up on a farm, could stack wood, kill a chicken, make fresh pasta, forage herbs and greens and set up the table before you would be up for your first coffee. I have memories of her cracking almonds for hours using a hammer to then bake delicious tarts. The kitchen was always going at full speed when she was in it. She was definitely a feeder, with a bit of a steam roller. Never tired, never a doubt.

I’m going to say it before you do. This picture is so cute it looks fake! I myself almost fell off the chair when I found it in a stack of pictures of me and my sister trying to figure out how to scoop up a kitten with a fishing net. But olive trees have been in our family for a long while and my dad was always taking pictures so I guess I should have expect as normal. Still, pretty cool shot.

My aunt Maria, the cop. Not just because she actually was a cop. She was part of the very first batch of female officers ever enlisted in Italy. With a degree in law and grit to spare, she was out there, fighting the bad guys and gender inequality since the 60’s. I remember later in her career I went to visit her at work. She had a fancy corner office with the flag behind her desk, a picture of the president and a Beretta in the first drawer, next to the rubber bands and paper clips. She was the most generous person, always ready to laugh. She was fast, and thorough, and sharp as a tack.

My mom, she is the energy that keeps all the universe together and prevents it from just falling like a jar of marbles knocked over the pavement. 

My sister Roberta next to what was a sport bike in 1969. Nothing in common between the two, but just too cute of a picture not to share. Actually quite the contrary. While the bike will have no mercy of my silliness, my sister will always forgive me. Or at least that’s what it feels like. She inherited a special kind of heart, the one that care givers have, like nurses, firefighters or superheroes.  She is the memory keeper, a collector of everyday nuances, a loving mom and a mean Tombola (bingo) player. 

norton scrambler

My cousin Valeria captured in the wild. Is she always looking for an excuse to catch some rays or is the sun that actually follows her around? I’m never quite sure. She is the optimistic one, as much as you can be and still be considered Italian. She approaches life always with a smile on. An animal print blouse is her armour and an extra puff of perfume her weapon of choice. She is a smart cookie, a hard working, esteemed professional during the day but when 6pm approaches, get out of her way; it’s Zumba time. 


Fortunate doesn’t fully cover it. I’m grateful to have and have had all of these women in my life. All of them influential, all of them have a place in my heart. Buona Feste delle Donne, Happy International Women’s Day, to the Simonelli and Contursi ladies, and to every other woman out there.!

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