I come from a very small town in the South of Italy. I was born and grew up in Australia but a lot of my family still live in Italy.
The people of Italy were the original inspiration behind Pt. Nemo. It’s a place where everything is made from scratch or traded with neighbours. Everyone looks out for everyone, everyone respects one another and everyone presents herself or himself in a stylish and clean manner.
It’s a place where the mafia have a stronghold over local businesses and if you don’t pay your ‘taxes’ then your shop or business gets shot up. It’s the sort of place where people die from old age and rarely, car accidents. Where if you don’t grow it, make it or find it growing wild then you don’t eat it so food is so in season, so fresh and so good for you. There is even a family business who make coal the old fashion way and most people don’t even know that this goes on in the world.
Every year my uncle Pino and Tom (Batrouney) walk up into the mountains a short distance from my Nonna’s house where the earth is always wet and full of nutrients and search for Porcini mushrooms.
My family makes absolutely everything from scratch. From red wine that you drink by the litre not by the glass to soap made from pig fat and the odd fly that falls into the mix. Nonna still to this day has people at her front door sent by the local doctor. Her soap has become a way of treating people with skin irritations and we use it everyday in Sydney. It’s unlike anything you have ever felt!
The roads take learning and anyone in town for the holidays visiting family will learn where the new potholes are quickly or be roadside fixing their car. The drive to the beach is always spent with Tom driving fast and trying to avoid every bump while my cousin with the voice of an angel sits in the back seat singing the latest Euro hits as we tear across the countryside looking around every corner for unexpected sheep on the road.
The beaches in the area are some of the best I have seen in the world. They are beautiful because of the colour of the water, the vibe and the people. On the right day the water is the most indescribable light blue and is so inviting. Families usually arrive to the beach early in the morning with at least 3 generations of family members and enough food for the day. Younger people will play Euro dance music and smoke cigarettes and old people will play cards, gossip and go on ‘passeggiata’ (walks) in the shallows. I have still never seen a tourist in my home town in Italy and while that makes sense I can’t help but think about the first one that shows up for some reason. Sure there may not be much to do and if you don’t know anyone it would be hard to find food and shelter but you can guarantee the day you arrive you would have half the town knocking on your door bringing you fresh ricotta, cured meats and fresh bread.
Being from a tiny town in Italy and having lived in Rome and Venice I have a great perspective on what Italy is and what it means to be Italian. Everyone in Italy from towns to cities have similar traits. They are incredibly hard working, pride themselves on looking good every time they step outside in public and if they want to do something then they just do it themselves no matter how hard it may be.