La mia famiglia in Prato

So I just finished by first week of classes and have a much better perspective of what this Masters program is all about. This is the first year of the program but it’s been a work in progress for years. The Program Coordinator told us that 4 years ago she was talking with some colleagues over dinner one night about how there should be a Masters in Museum Studies in Florence, and was shocked that such a program in a city filled with museums didn’t exist yet. 4 years later, here we are! I find this completely romantic – an idea born over a long dinner – and it is easy to tell that the people involved are beyond excited to see it come to fruition. I won’t bore you with my reading lists and class descriptions but I’ve already finished Thomas Hoving’s autobiography, “Making the Mummies Dance” (former Director of the Met) and am now full speed ahead into the biography of Alfred H. Barr, “Missionary for the Modern” (one of the founders of MOMA). After a 2 year break from school it’s WONDERFUL using parts of my brain that have been dormant for quite a while now. It also maybe be first semester jitters – as my friend Meredith said recently: who doesn’t love clean notebooks and new pens?! Once the notebooks get worn a bit and the pens lost, there is a huge chance that in three months I’ll be complaining to you that “I’m soooo tiward, I can’t handle this, what was I thinkingggg, wa wa wa.” But, for now, I LOVE SKEWL!

Let’s back track to 2 weeks ago during my orientation. I had a day full of activities when Robert was still here so while I was attending information sessions Robert was tucked in my apartment finishing up some school work (don’t even ask about the German university system. Robert’s classes for the semester were over at the end of July yet he has work for those classes that’s due through the end of September and then his next semester starts early October. Makes no sense to me!). But anyway, he needed to cram some work in so he set up camp at the kitchen table and planned to work the 2 days that I was in school. 

While the following story is coming second hand, I can promise you that all facts are true as the details have been recounted several times from multiple sources. So it’s around 9 am, Robert is settling in, sipping an espresso, trying to get in the zone. He hears some one buzzing my apartment which is completely strange since I don’t know anyone in the city and I’m at school and have the key so wouldn’t need his help to get in. He then realized that the person was furiously buzzing all of the apartments in the building so just figured it was some annoying guy trying to sell something or drop off advertisements.

He tried to re-focus on getting focused when he hears a man shouting in the streets. The man seemed to be blurting out to anyone who walked by, something along the lines of: SCUSI, CONOSCE UNA STUDENTESSA AMERICANA COGNOME PICCOLO?? LEI ABITA A QUI. CONOSCE? SCUSI! SCUSI! C’E UNA RAGAZZA AMERICANA DICA PICCOLO ABITA SULLA STRADA…. Robert jumped up and looked out the window to see a man relentlessly accosting innocent passerby’s, children, rogue dogs trying to get an answer out of anyone who would listen.

Realizing that this man was looking for me Robert ran downstairs to see what was going on with this crazy Italiano! Welllll as it turns out, my father’s first cousin, Antonetta, lives in Prato (a small city outside Florence) and was in Naples when my father was there 2 weeks ago and after running into each other (after 40 years!) at the town feast my father told her that I was studying in Florence and gave her my street address, so Antonetta immediately sent her husband, Antonio, to SEARCH ME OUT and not come home til he found me! 

So after Robert gathers the gist of this connection, he and Antonio end up spending the afternoon walking around the city getting to know one another. I mean, not what a boyfriend has planned when he’s moving his girlfriend into a foreign city – but Robert is so amazing that walking around town with my father’s cousin’s husband for a few hours instead of getting much needed work done barely fazed him. Again, God bless his soul. As it turns out Antonetta and Antonio lived in Germany for 30 years (small world isn’t it???) and moved to Prato 12 years ago. While my father is related to Antonetta, Antonio is from the same small town in Naples and remembers going to primary school with my father and Uncle Dominick. 

So at some point in the day I get a text from Robert: Your cousin found your apartment. We are having dinner in Prato tonight. Come home after school. Obviously I had no idea how these plans came about and almost died when Robert told me that Antonio had rung every buzzer on the street and had interrogated every shop keeper in the area if they knew “an American student with the last name Piccolo.” Gotta love la famiglia.

It is exciting, heart warming, overwhelming to meet family for the first time. I instantly felt connected to Antonetta and while I have a hard time understanding everyone in the family (as my Italian is strictly conversational (I’m working on it!) and they speak with a strong Neapolitan dialect) I was overwhelmed with love for these people I barely knew.

Here are a few pics from our epic dinner in Prato. 

Antonetta making tomato sauce for our spaghetti. She keeps it simple with some good quality olive oil, garlic, canned whole tomatoes, s+p and at the end throws in some fresh basil. Sta perfetto!


There are 4 generations of women in this photo. From Left to Right: Matsia, Me, Tina, Nonna, Antonio, Antonetta. Notice Nonna saluting! I love it.


Matsia, an outgoing, curious, spunky kid who was proud to correct my sorry excuse for Italian. She is unapologetically opinionated and my heart melted when she said "mi piace la tua vestiti." (She liked my dress!)


Matsia snapped a pic of Rob and I at the dinner table. A five hour meal spoken through a mix of Italian, German and a hint of English as Matsia and I practiced her 1,2,3s and names of animals and colors. The evening was fun and quite exhausting!


Some pics from one of Robert’s last days in Florence:

A view from Fiesole, a small wealthy town 9 km north of Florence. Rob and I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon walking around.


A lover's quarrel ensued for over an hour and I couldn't help but watch as these torn souls tried to forgive each other for whatever wrong doing was caused. Italian love seems to be an intense undertaking.


We finished our evening with a memorable meal at I’Polpa restaurant in the town center. The intimate setting, seasonal menu of Tuscan specialties, and quiet ambiance made for a perfect end to Robert’s trip to Florence.

Off to check out the Mercato di S. Ambrogio this morning. Word on the street is that they offer the biggest organic selection of produce. Will be in touch soon!



About Lauren Raffaela

Ciao ragazzi, mi chiamo Lauren. I am writing from Florence, Italy where I am in school for a Masters in Museum Studies. When not in school I spend my days strolling the streets, trying to look like a local. I love to people watch, go jogging before the city is awake, have small talk with old ladies and am constantly stopping to read menus in restaurant and cafe windows just to see what they're up to. My favorite gelato flavor is noccioloso and I try to control my intake to one (or two...) a week. My blog focuses on my adventures and discoveries - both about this beautiful city (and country) and about myself. If you would like to touch base or have any questions please feel free to leave a comment on my posts and I'll be sure to get in touch. Grazie and ciao!
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3 Responses to La mia famiglia in Prato

  1. Ky says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes.

    Four Generations. Amazing story. Wow.

  2. lil lisa says:

    laur. that cousin who seeked you out is such a piccolo. great story. love and miss

  3. Pingback: buon anno! | Lauren Raffaela's Blog

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