It all started one summer in the south of France, I met a young Italian who kept following me around on the beach and declaring his love for me. We camped out close to the beach and had an idyllic summer romance. I was just 17 and a half years old. Autumn arrived we both managed to find a job near Marseille, we rented a room in a lovely old mansion by the coast and everything was perfect until my Italian boyfriend decided it was time for him to return home to Puglia for Christmas, and for me to meet the parents. We would have gone to London, but my father wouldn’t guarantee for my boyfriend, once at the UK border he was sent back to France! My parents were horrified I had fallen for an Italian, the heart always seems to rule the head when you are young a foolish, as I definitely was!
One of the first memories of arriving in Puglia in December, was the curiosity of my future mother in law and sister in law, I was wearing a miniskirt and knee high boots needless to say they kept looking me up and down as if I was an alien! Once the novelty had passed the next hurdle was communicating with the family. I had a dictionary and asked them to talk slowly, but unbeknown to me they spoke in dialect and their words could not be found in my dictionary, so I began to learn the local dialect and written Italian. A few days after arrival my boyfriend had to leave for his (then obligatory) military service of 12 months! I wanted to return home to UK. My father said ” once you return to London, you’re not going back there again”, my boyfriend said ” if you leave, then don’t bother coming back”, torn between the two I chose to stay in Italy…. …..to be continued