My name is Ariana Nicole Zita Garbaccio.
I was raised in my family’s small mom and pop Italian deli & pizzeria. I was almost always in the kitchen with my dad, watching him as he prepared all of his dishes without a recipe. I’d run around grabbing ingredients as quickly as he called them out…That was, and still is, my favorite thing to do. My interests were always different from those of my friends, though. I loved learning about cultures that were different from my own and although I had never been further than the Bahamas, I knew I wanted to travel. My aunt is in the travel business and growing up, she would bring me gifts from every country she would visit; videos from China, postcards and scarves from India, fans and trinkets from Japan… the list goes on and on. I was so intrigued by how people lived and how big the world really was. I wanted to be everywhere at once and I wanted to learn. I had a fascination with Italy in particular, mostly because of my family’s mixed Italian heritage. My maternal grandmother, a tough Sicilian woman whos parents were arranged to marry before arriving to America to start a life together. My Piedmontese. I had hoped to visit eventually, but after years of seeing my family invest more time and money into our business, I realized it would be long before I’d get there, unless I made it happen on my own. And so, my fascination with the world grew over time as I continued on with my normal life.
Fast forward to 2009, when I dated my first boyfriend. He just so happened to be born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. It was my first experience being invited into an entirely different culture and I loved every minute of it. From cooking in the kitchen with his mother and trying to learn Japanese, I felt as though I fit in perfectly. In 2010, we took a three-week trip to Japan. Aside from the initial culture shock I experienced, I was quickly able to immerse myself in daily life. As if my trip couldn’t get any cooler, I was invited to perform in a festival and after learning the entire performance, I was dressed up in typical Japanese garb and was dancing for the city. This was my first experience abroad and my first time seeing the world in a new way. I learned so much through this family who essentially took me in and showed me a different way of living, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Yet still, I was anxious to learn more.
I went on to college where I took my first cultural anthropology course, introducing me to a subject that met all of my desires and answered all of my questions. This would go on to be the minor with which I graduated college. Aside from the fact that I read about the history of food and the regional cooking of Italy in my spare time, I was your typical college student; a sorority girl who spent Saturday night drinking wine with my sisters and Sunday morning volunteering. Life was the best it had ever been, but it was only about to get better. The fall of my junior year, four of my best friends and I spontaneously decided we were going to apply to study abroad in Rome that following summer. We were accepted to John Cabot University and on a plane to Fiumicino airport just a few months later. From the minute I stepped onto those cobblestone streets, my entire world had changed. Our professor took us to a different neighborhood in Rome twice a week; neighborhoods of which I knew absolutely nothing about and most likely would not have visited had I taken another course. It really opened up my eyes and showed me the real, less traveled Rome. Through this course, my anthropology courses at home, and my experience abroad, I learned to look past the “touristy,” well-known images of a city and look deeper into the area; the people, the culture, even the city’s social issues. I was no longer a superficial traveler and it was through this type of learning and traveling that my perspective of the world changed forever. I felt a connection to Italy, the culture, and especially the food thanks to my experience in the food business… I felt the sense that I really belonged here or as though somehow, my Sicilian grandmother who had passed 10 years earlier, was placing me here for a reason…bringing me back to my roots. The place I had dreamed of my entire life was everything I had imagined and more. I was the happiest I believed I had ever been and deep down, I knew I would eventually be back for more.
In the months following my trip, almost every person that knew me knew about my obsession with the Italian way. When someone would bring up Rome, Italy, or travel in general (even in movies and TV shows…), – my mind would shift to my time abroad and I would instantly feel nostalgic. But as much as I dreamed of my hypothetical return and “joked” about living in Italy, I dismissed the idea as simply a dream- one that was too unrealistic to ever come true.
Just before I graduated college with a degree in Global Communications, my sorority gave out their annual superlatives. I laughed (and cried) when I received, “Sister Most Likely to Move to Italy and Start a Food and Travel blog” …Yet here I am now, doing just that.
It’s so cliché when people say “everything happens for a reason” but I truly believe that everything leading up to this point had a purpose in this little story called life. Funny how things work out, huh?
Today, I still spend almost every day at our family deli. Whether I’m working behind the counter making sandwiches or simply grabbing a cup of coffee and chatting with my parents, this is where I go to see familiar faces and where I go to spend time with my crazy family. This is something I’ll definitely miss while I’m here in Italy. This business has not only been my second home for my entire life, but growing up in the food industry has given me my love, appreciation, and knowledge for all things ‘food’.
In the upcoming months, I will be living with a loving family in Torino in return for spending time with and teaching English to their daughter. I will be spending my free time exploring, learning about my new home, and living my dream to its fullest capacity. I am so excited to share this adventure and these experiences with you.
Perhaps only some of my content will be relevant to you, but I do hope that you find my posts useful in feeding your curiosities and wanderlust. If nothing more, I hope that you will check back in and travel on this incredible journey with me.