I visited my Italian grandparents every Saturday and Sunday. My brother, sister and nine cousins would all arrive at approximately the same time along with our respective parents and stay the whole afternoon. If our dad and uncles were having a heated card game, we’d stay most of the night too.
It was a small, crowded house and in the summer we’d spill out into the street to play. That was exciting.
Nonna would flit around the kitchen, cooking pasta with meatballs and parmigiana. My exotic Italian relatives spoke a cryptic mix of Italian, English and the Irpinian dialect (a sort of variant of Neapolitan). There was always coffee on the stove, smelling amazing. Decades before cafe chains, we were sipping espresso and dipping biscotti or amaretti biscuits.
When the UK voted to leave the EU, my older relatives had to apply for permanent residence in a country they’d been living in for the majority of their lives. English relatives on my mother’s side voted to leave. My own brother and sister, who are half Italian like myself voted to leave. My sis is married to an Irishman. I still don’t understand their decisions. I’m afraid to ask them why. Why would they deny other families the opportunities our own had? I feel sad. I feel like half the country have attacked my culture, family and childhood. I’m sure there are good reasons for leaving the EU, but I haven’t been convinced yet. Maybe something tangible and positive will happen eventually.