You lose. You gain

Weight isn’t the only thing I start to gain… I begin to collect friends, develop my language, the relationship with the children blossoms & I improve my cooking skills (if you can call them that!). I learn how to completely slow down; to lose the haste & order, I relax in to life… start living the Italian way. 

Friends make time to meet even if there’s no actual time to meet! Standing, they talk fast between large swoops of coffee, gulp water & before you know it, with a kiss on each cheek they’ve parted. I quickly learn there’s always something to do or someone to see as I am taken here, there & everywhere (shown off really). Family & friends are welcoming & without fail, I am always fed. Quick! Feed the skinny white girl!


An Aunties’ 50th lake house party reveals an entire garden buffet featuring REAL lasagne (as apposed to the ‘sloppy mess’ we have in England), pasta, pizza, Nutella, pistachio cake. Eventually I manage to escape the feed hungry Aunts by rowing out on to the lake for a few hours with their daughters.

And this is when I discover the family I live with have a yacht! 

As though my every wish is answered, 2 days later we are packing our belongings & collecting Marquises’ famous Buffalo Mozzarella on route to the vessel.

We set sail to Ventotene, a small island off the coast of Latina.

With the bay nearing, Captain Italian Dad switches off the engine & releases the anchor. I peep over the edge like an excited school girl & stare into the crystal like water to see the seabed miles beneath us, clear as day. I can’t wait to get in! The children position the dresserelle ready for us to dive bomb, disturbing the sea life below but I am soon given the snorkel & flippers & assigned to jelly fish watch instead.


As wrinkled as old ladies & tired of bobbing in the waters we climb aboard & sprawl across the top deck reading to one another in our native languages until falling asleep…


I forget where I am when we are awoken by a beautiful blue & brown sailing boat tying up to us. A dark tanned belly of a man steps overboard with his home cooked fish pasta in hand, causing the boat to dip; family friends joining us for lunch. He pours his deep red wine & tears the fresh bread ready to share with us. The Buffalo mozzarella is on the table, so is the ricotta, more Nutella, prosciutto, tomatoes, olive oil and plenty of water. A sea feast!

 Later we cruise in to the port & zigzag our way from the dock towards the top of the island until we reach a sign. I move its overgrown plants aside to read ‘’il gardinio De ventotane’. The garden of Ventotane… We walk inside to a beautiful al fresco dining area full of tables, overgrown vines wrapping themselves around pergolas drooping over the diners as their chatter carries through the ‘garden’, terra cotta pots growing basil & thyme line the perimeter. Coupled with a view of the horizon & the faint sound of waves in the distance this place is a taste of paradise. Only to be backed up by its understanding of local food. I start with Parmigana, follow with the catch of the day, Monk Fish & finish by sharing a mouth-watering chocolate pudding which oozes when I dip my spoon in to it. I swill around the rest of my wine before I walk the children back to the boat. On the way we stop to watch a group of locals dancing in the piazza…


I could grow used to the casual ways, as though suspended in time, no restrictions or cut off points, just enjoying the gentle rock of living, like being on the boat.

As we sail away in the morning I position myself at the bow, feet dangling either side. A pang of regret, loss overcomes me & I beg the paradise island to let me return one day (in a Jack from Lost kind of way!).

I glance at my wet feet as I turn my head towards the direction we’re headed & spot a school of Dolphins weaving through each other at the tip of the boat, playfully jumping as though trying to nose-but my tootsies.

No wonder Italians enjoy life so much! 

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