I am sure everyone remembers Brother Bob Despirito. He moved to Italy with his wife several months ago. He is still very much part of our MDP family. Some of you may have already seen this update. I am not sure who he emailed it to. He included a couple of pics. Please keep Bob and Roseann in your prayers as they enjoy “la dolce vita”
Here is the email Bob sent:
Dear Family and Friends,
Believe it or not, it has been 10 months since we came to Italy to start a new adventure.
We are still head over heels in love with this beautiful country and its wonderful people. Each day, a new adventure, a new friend, a new food, or a new discovery about ourselves.
Thanks to all of you who have sent Christmas greetings to us. We wish we could send each of you a personal hand written Christmas note, but for each one costing at least $3.00, guess what ! Merry Christmas and Happy New year. We spent last weekend in Rome seeing what Christmas is like in the Eternal city. It really is magical. Here in Italy, no Christmas preparations start until December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. How nice it is not to be bombarded with “the holiday season” in October. Also here, the wish is Merry Christmas (Buon Natale), not Happy Holiday.. I took Roseann to the Piazza Navona to see how it is transformed for Christmas. There must be at least 100 booths selling Christmas items, mostly the Befana, the old woman (looks like a witch) that brings gifts to the children on January 6th. However now, Italy goes along with Santa Claus (Babo Natale) who brings gifts on Christmas Day. Still, the Befana is more popular . You can buy one as small as a key chain or as large as a full size person. We bought one with eyes that glow red with legs that move up and down. Also in Rome, Roseann did 2 things that she has never done before. We had English tea in Babbington’s Tea Room right near the Spanish Steps. She felt like Queen Elizabeth and of course I was her Prince Charming (stop laughing). The second thing she did, which she has never done in her life, was ride the subway (Metro) In Rome. They are fast and clean. It is such a pleasure to see her get so excited and to her enjoy herself. The trip to Rome was our Christmas gift to each other. We could not ask for anything more.
We have had the great pleasure of many visitors the last few months. Richard and Phyllis Teifel who live part of the year in Phila. and part of the year in Tuscany, came to visit for a couple of days. It was nice to see some familiar faces, especially ones that spoke English.
A couple we met here, John and Maria Robotan came here for dinner after they graciously hosted us at there home in Italy. John is originally from Hershey, Pa.
In September, we had 2 visitors. My brother Richard’s oldest son ,Justin, surprised us and stayed with us for 2 days. We and my Italian relatives were thrilled to have the opportunity to host another member of our family from America. I think my cousins here were beginning to think that there were no other relatives in America and that I was making up all of them. THANK YOU, JUSTIN.
A friend we met at Positano Restaurant in Ardmore, Pa. also visited in September. Regina spent four short days with us and was amazed at the sights and the people of our town, Sessa Aurunca.She was a gracious guest and we would welcome her back ant time.
In October,two of our best friends from America came to Italy. Jerry and Kathy Nixon spent 5 days with us here in Sessa. Then we all went to Sorrento for a week and then on to Rome for 4 days. I have never seen time go by so quickly ! They are such great friends who shared a lot of good food and a lot of laughs with us. Thanks, Kathy and Gerry, for being our friends.
That just about does it in the visitor category, but I would like to share some other aspects of our time in Italy.
NOTHING IS ON TIME IN ITALY , except for maybe the trains. Every weekend during the warm weather , there was some kind of entertainment in the Piazza. Most were scheduled to start at 8:00 PM , which meant you actually had to get there by 9:30 PM or 10 – and then wait until the performers were ready and the extra chairs arrived. We enjoyed all the televised soccer games, the town olympics, the beauty pageants, rock bands, folk music and dancers, and comedians – no matter what time they started, the price was right – ALL FREE.
Aside from God, Jesus, the Blessed Mother and every saint whoever lived, there is no other group that is worshiped more than the Italian children. Everyone makes a fuss over all the kids. All the kids have at least one high-end cell phone and carry lots of money. They can do no wrong. Very seldom are the young children scolded or controlled in any manner. It is a good thing that most of the little ones don’t understand English, if you know what I mean. Somehow they grow into very respectable teenagers and young adults They show the utmost respect to their elders and always offer their help when needed. How do they turn out so well? I guess that when they are small, they get so much love that as they mature, they easily pass it on. They are great young men and women!
As I have said before, the Italian people are great. This even holds true for the Italian driver. Don’t believe what you here about the Italian drivers. They are the most courteous, patient and best drivers I have ever seen. They may drive fast, but they have control of the car. Anytime you cross the street, they will stop and let you cross. They see someone they know and stop in the middle of the street to talk, the cars behind just wait patiently until the conversation is finished. They do park anywhere and everywhere – on sidewalks, in the middle of the street, and in front of handicap signs, and often double and triple park.
We have been very fortunate in meeting a lot of nice people, including people at church. We attend Mass at the Cathedral where Fr. Robert is the Pastor. He is a young priest and has become a great friend, as well as 2 nuns who are also in the parish. Fr. Robert came to our apartment to bless it and the 2 nuns came along. they had previously invited us for coffee in the rectory. We mentioned that we needed another crucifix for one of our rooms. When they came to our apartment, they brought a crucifix from one of their bedrooms as a gift
What a beautiful and thoughtful act of kindness. This happens so often here in Italy.
THANKSGIVING IN ITALY
We invited our upstairs neighbors to share an ALL AMERICAN Thanksgiving dinner. I went to the butcher to order the turkey. I was thinking in pounds, but ordered in kilos. Our neighbor said the butcher wanted to know how we would cook such a big turkey. I found out that I ordered a 14 kilo turkey, which is about 40 pounds. I quickly corrected the mistake. Though the turkey looked skinnier that an American turkey, it was the tastiest and moistest turkey I have ever had in my life. And, my friends will tell you, I’ve cooked hundreds of turkeys over the years.
The dinner was great ! Roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, homemade biscuits, apple pie, and cheesecake.
Of all that has happened in the last 10 months, probably the greatest gift that God has given us is family and friends. My cousin Maria, who recently went through by pass heart surgery, and her family have been here always ready to help us. We could not have made it this far without them.
Our friends are everyone we meet or do business with. They offer advice and help with anything we need – and expect nothing in return. Just tonight, the people who own the restaurant that we go to it town invited us to their Christmas Vigil and Christmas dinner because they did not want us to celebrate the holidays alone.
However, there is a family here that has gone above and beyond what it means to be a friend. Our upstairs neighbors, Emma and Renato must have truly been sent by God to be our guardian angels.
They have welcomed us into their home and shared a lot of fresh food from their nearby garden. They helped us when the electric went off, gave help when something went wrong with TV, told us where to pay utility bills and have accepted us as members of their family. They are both retired teachers. Emma is about 12 years younger than her husband. Believe me when I say that she is a fireball for a woman in her 70’s.Nothing stops her. She is on the go from morning until night. She cares for her husband, a family friend who lives with the and suffers from slight dementia, and Emma’s mother Aida who is 99 and still cooks and sews. Emma also watches and feeds 2 of her grandchildren when they are in school.
The amazing thing is that Emma and Renato still make time for us as adopted family members. When we came back from Rome this weekend, not only did they pick us up at the train station, but they sent dinner down to us.
A couple of weeks ago, we were up at Emma’s for coffee (brandy for Emma and me). She asked Roseann and me how we liked Italy. We said we loved it here but have not gotten a visa yet. We applied in March. She came downstairs the next day to look at the papers.She called her brother who came and looked on line for the visa applications. There was no progress on the application. The next day she took me to an agency in town that helps Italians with all kinds of government problems. The man there recognized me from church. Emma explained the problem to him. He made several phone calls and said not to bother with the visa and go for the dual citizenship. He said to go to Caserta (like the state capitol) and start the process.
Two days later, Emma and Renato are driving us to Caserta (about 45 minutes away).
Needless to say, Emma works her wonders as talker and gets into see someone even though they say the office is closed.
We (Emma) is calling the office to set up the appointment to get dual citizenship. The next day she goes to the county office here in Sessa to find out about getting citizenship for Roseann. What an amazing lady !
Roseann (and I also) were worried that without a visa , we would be forced to leave Italy. Emma says,’Don’t worry.They don’t care that you are still here. They probably don’t even know you are here since they didn’t stamp your passports when you arrived in the first place.” Only in Italy !!!!
Well, life is good here for us, especially for Roseann. She is still the wonderfully innocent and sometimes gullible woman I married more than 29 years ago. More work for our guardian angels !
We do miss our friends and family in the states. There is not a day that goes by that we do not think of all of you. Thankfully, friends like Judy are in constant contact and provide support from home when we need it.
The country, the food, and especially the people here are the things we most enjoy. Sure, things here are not the same as in the states – some things better -some things not. It is important to remember that we came here to experience a new and exciting way of life. Things here are not right or wrong – they are different.We are here to enjoy that difference together in the golden years of our life. And, I believe we found that gold in Sessa Aurunca, Italy.
God bless all of you and keep us in your prayers and thoughts.
Buon Natale and Buon Anno
Bob & Roseann
Lo Capitolo n. 3
81037 Sessa Aurunca(Ce) Italy
Rosann decorating the tree