rachael martin

Italy, a love story

I set off on my Italian travels at the end of the 1990s, dreaming of the Merchant Ivory production of A Room with a View with Gianni Schicchi’s O mio babbino caro playing in the background. As often happens in these cases, it wasn’t too long before I met my all-Italian boyfriend, who had rented a house in the mountains with friends for the ski season. It was the best thing I could have wished for, and not just because I eventually married him.  

In the meantime, I was falling in love with all things Italian. I revamped my wardrobe with a pair of D&G jeans and a pair of black Moschino ones (this was the 90s), became well-versed in café culture and ate every form of focaccia, pizza, pasta and polenta I could find. 

I learned to ski – of a fashion, and when I wasn’t hitching a ride in a snowcat as ‘you must be mad if you think I’m going down there,’ I learned about mountains and the food you can eat. I learned to cook pasta, and put salt in the water. When I first met my husband and cooked for him, I didn’t. He was horrified. I soon started to cook pasta in salted water, and learned to cook like a true Italian mamma. I eventually married my Italian boyfriend, and I have enough international girlfriends to prove that this is by no means a singular event. Two kids followed, and navigating the waters of everything it involved. 

I made Italy my home. It kind of happened, gradually. I came to Italy and roamed about on trains, and am still roaming around on trains, as my kids will testify. “La mamma è sempre in giro,” roughly translated as mum’s always out and about, and often accompanied by eye-rolling. Apart from when we’re living through a global pandemic. I’ve had a break from the trains before, only the last time it involved nappies.

The shiny patina wore off years ago, but my love for Italy remains. I chose it and in many ways it chose me, and almost like any marriage, it brought its highlights and low points. Possibly everything I write is part of this journey that gave me a life, a family and a job I love.

In any case I’m still here, living and breathing it all, and trying to tell it and show it through my work.  

(Italiano sotto)