As a child, I envied other kids with extended family. They spent weekends with their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins; I spent mine with my parents. My parents were the only ones in their families to emigrate from their native lands and produced only one child-me. It was a lonely childhood.
I met my Brazilian family when I was 5, but I was 21 when I finally met my Italian family. I had been to Italy before but my father preferred to visit his friends than his family. After his death, my mother and I repatriated his ashes to a mountain top cemetery in Genoa and that's when I met his slightly crazy fragmented family. I was welcomed then rejected by an aunt, but there were plenty of others who embraced me for the long haul. I had found the family that I had always longed for.
I moved to Italy about five years later. I rented a little apartment outside of Genoa, in Arenzano. I took the train daily in to the city. I got a job. And I ate so much that I gained 10 lbs. in about 3 months. I enjoyed the restaurants, bakeries, pastry shops and grocers a little too much! You would think that my culinary indulgences were my favourite part of my stay but they weren't.
What I loved most about the Ligurian coast was sitting on the beach watching the ebb and flow of the Gulf of Genoa while the Ligurian Alps stood behind me. I still believe that to be able to live on a mountain and walk to the beach is the best of both worlds.