This fantastic picture came to Ruggero  email several weeks ago. He told me about it, but I did not have time to check it out till today, and as soon I clicked on it…WOW!!!. Suddenly, all the faces and wonderful memories of Italy hit me like a tsunami wave. But above all, it reminds me of a beautiful family I met two years ago in Trento, North of Italy.

The man you see in the pictures above is Luciano Marenzi. Luciano (Ruggero’s nephew) is a wonderful husband of Raffaella and a totally devoted father to his two beautiful daughters: Francesca 12, and Lucia 10. When I first met this man, I was fooled by the simple impression he presented himself. This man is so humble in the way he talks and the way he dresses (Italian, men and women, they are very sophisticated even in daily living). Only a few in the family knew he earned a doctor degree in computer science,  and is currently working on several researches and medical programming for hospitals in Italy (his mother was very proud to show Ruggero and I the framed diplomas of her two sons in her living room). During our conversation at his house, he expressed his frustration and disappointment in Italy government for not helping with scientist research and projects. I told him if he were in America, the condition probably would be a lot different. Anyway, not only I do admire Luciano for his character, personality and his work, but also as a loving husband and a wonderful father to his children. Oh, and not to mention how many titles and cups of champion Luciano and his younger brother won as a team in sailing and swords fighting in Milan as well.

The first time when I met Luciano and his family was in September 2008, my second trip to Italy. On the second day right after Ruggero and I arrived to Milan, Adriana and Gianpiero (Ruggero’s only sister and her husband) took us on a trip to visit one of their sons who is living in Trento with his family. The trip took about three hours from Milan. I thought I was in heaven during that three hours trip. Because between indulging my eyes with the panorama of the magnificent villages on the green hills and mountains along the highway, and tasting the fantastic food and sipping the Macchiatto along the way…I was drifting in and out of my consciousness due to the different time zone, the condition that some people call it “Jet lag”. The conversations in the car however(in Italian, which I know very little, of course) between Ruggero and his family kept me awake and reminding me I was in Italy, not heaven yet.

We reached Trento around 1pm. the entire warm and loving family came to the gate to welcome us. It was also the first time for Ruggero to meet Raffaella (Luciano’s wife) and the children. The first “Hello” between the little girls and I was a little difficult since they don’t understand English and I don’t know much about Italian. By the time we all were sitting down for lunch an hour later, the three of us felt more comfortable and could communicate better with gestures and my broken Italian.

The more I got to know this two little girls, the more I adore them. They are truly a beautiful symbol of purity and innocent. Unlike the children I have seen in America who are proud with their possessions of cell phone, video games and electronic toys and make up kits… These two girls are very different. Instead, Francesca was proud to show me how good she played Violin and the art projects she had been completed in school. She also told me about the books she had read (I understood by looking at the children books). Meanwhile, Lucia, her younger sister was very anxious and could not wait till her time to show me her skills too. Lucia is very good with keyboard and the circus cloth tricks she had learned in school, as you can see her in the picture on the right. She gave us a ten minutes performance and it was fantastic.

That night, Ruggero and I were invited to a fund-raiser party at the school of Francesca and Lucia. All the parents were the supporters of this event. They contribute not only by buying their own  tickets but also giving their times to organize the party. It was a very beautiful and intimate night between the parents, teachers, and students with lots of food, flowers and candles on each table. The musicians who performed that night were actually the teachers themselves, and they were fantastic artists.

Sadly, the next day Ruggero and I had to leave Trento and the Marenzi. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to this loving family. I felt as if my heart was left behind as we drove off. Even till today, the haunting faces, the beautiful smiles, the loving embraces have become the missing parts of my heart ever since the day I set my foot in Trento.