Long story short…
Here are some shortened versions if you don’t want to read the whole thing:
- Love Stories by Questa Dolce Vita: Brittni and Alberto
- Bergamo News: Lascia le spiagge di Palm Beach per Bagnatica
- Corriere della Sera: Dalla Florida a Bagnatica per Alberto
Long story long…
Summer 2015: after a night with my friend Jennifer watching sappy Italian themed movies (Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat Pray Love, of course) I went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night needing to get back to Italy. This happened to me every once in a while, but this time was different. I texted my three Italian girlfriends: Jessica from Piamonte, Stefania from Reggio Emilia, and Marianna from Lombardia. I found a cheap flight, and for the first, and last time, they were ALL available to meet up during the time frame I was looking at. Basically all the stars aligned and I immediately bought the ticket, not knowing that this trip would change my life.
The day/night before leaving (the embarrassing, not at all romantic part of the story): Being that I was a 25-year-old, true-to-the-soul Florida girl, I liked to party [♪ I liked, I liked to party ♪]. Anyway, I was getting to the age where I was calming down a little and going out a lot less. I went out on a boat and got embarrassingly drunk. I made a complete fool of myself. What started as a fun day on the boat, ended with me having a panic attack on my bed in front of all of my friends who took care of me (thank god for them). I knew that that was it. It was my turning point. At a certain age, it wasn’t cute anymore, and it certainly wasn’t fun. The next morning, all bruised up, empty stomached and late, I rushed to the Miami airport a new person (and very hungover). I was ready to stop being the epitome of ‘Florida Girl’ and ready to get a little more serious.
My trip leading up to September 17th: I stayed mostly with Jessica in Piemonte, I met her while I was an Au Pair in the summer of 2012. We immediately became close friends and she actually even came to visit me in Florida. She and her family were my home base for the trip. We visited the local spots, and I got to visit with the Cortese family (the family I was an au pair for).
Then I hopped on a train to Milan to meet up with Stefania. She and I met through an Italian family that I babysat for in Boca Raton, Florida. She worked for the dad and had come to Florida to visit. I met her while she was staying there and introduced her to my Italian professor, Ilaria, who connected her with other Italians in the area. I met Stefania for the first time on my birthday. She was extremely brave for an Italian girl and she came right to my house without knowing anyone to celebrate my 25th birthday.
So, Stefania and her friends brought me back to her house with her family, to visit Bologna and other treasures along the way. “Brittni, we have to find you an Italian husband,” was the ongoing joke the entire time. Honestly, being with them felt so good and it just felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that very moment. This whole vacation I couldn’t escape that feeling. It was beautiful, just being.
After my adventures with Stefania, it was back to Jessica and off to Lisbon, Portugal. We spent a super fun, interesting weekend getaway which was innocent. It was an adventure for sure. During this whole trip, and for probably years before the trip, I was a dating app user. It was fun and I met really cool people through it, who ended up being my friends, dated a couple people through it. There was something in the air that made me decide in our Air Bnb in Lisbon that I wasn’t looking for anyone anymore. I was done. He was going to find me and that was that. At that moment, I deleted all dating apps. I was confident that he was on his way. Crazy, I know. It sounds completely absurd while I write these words, but honestly, this is how it was.
September 17th, 2015: We landed back at Orio al Serio, Bergamo airport. I told everyone I was going to Milan because who knows where Bergamo is?! Noone. Jessica drove me over to Marianna’s house. Marianna and I met in Boca Raton, FL. She went there to work on her College Thesis at Florida Atlantic Univerisity since she had already known my Italian professor, Ilaria. Ilaria, introduced Marianna to Stefania and Stefania brought Marianna to brunch with me. We were the Three Amigas, a real fun little trio.
Driving past vineyards and hills right under the mountains, I was absolutely in love with her little town. It was immediately my favorite place so far. My trip at this point was almost over. Spending so much time bouncing around Marianna suggested that we spend a relaxing night watching a movie, Letters to Juliet, since the next day she was going to bring me to Verona. We did just that and it got me so excited to go and write my own letter!
September 18th, 2015: Verona is absolutely AMAZING. Being surrounded by romance, the city just wrapped me up with excitement. We had an early aperitivo at noon because that’s how they do it there. We went to a local little restaurant where the owner told me I can stay there work for him and be his wife… “Tempting,” I thought, “but no thanks.” haha! We tasted gelato that was to die for, walked through beautiful gardens, tight cobblestone streets, and just soaked up all the magic that the city has to offer. There’s a lot of magic.
Before leaving we went to La Casa di Giulietta. This is the house where Juliet supposedly lived and where women come from all over to write a letter asking for help in the love department. I didn’t know how special this day was at the time. When we arrived we decided not to pay to enter the museum. Instead, there was a room open just to the left of the Juliet statue. In this room was paper, pens, and a little box where you could insert your letter. There was a table and chair for me to sit and write peacefully while only a couple other people were even in this big room. I sat down and wrote a very simple straight forward letter that said something like this:
I’m done looking. Please help the man I’m supposed to be with come find me. I’m ready to be serious and settle down. I’d really like someone on my team. Mostly, someone decently attractive that I can laugh with (I like funny guys), travel with, have a family with. Someone who has a good job and a life of their own that will mix well with mine.
P.S. Preferably tall if possible, although it’s not mandatory.
After writing this letter I felt different. A huge release and SUPER full of hope. I actually even wrote to an old Italian fling (the reason I was set on never dating an Italian again) wishing him well and basically letting it go. What really brought me to do that? I have no idea. Leaving Verona I felt so fresh [♪ and so clean, clean ♪], independent, confident, secure in so many ways that I never had been in my life. At the Verona train station, Marianna told me that she planned a night out with a lot of her friends; pregaming at a bar called Cubo Cafè (when it was in Seriate) and then a night at the discotecca Costez. She told me, “they aren’t very good looking, but they are all really nice,” (remember this comment).
We got back to Bergamo and I was exhausted, we decided to skip the pregaming to rest, so we could just meet up with them at the night club after. Last-minute something came over me. This was the last weekend of my trip, the last opportunity I had to even go out. I asked if it was too late to change my mind since skipping pregaming means skipping everything. Who in the world can sit down in the evening and then get back up to go dance…. definetly not me! We got ready real quick and we were off!
Marianna’s best friend Valentina and her boyfriend Danilo drove us. Danilo had told his soccer team (calcetto) that they were bringing an American girl out with them tonight, so boys being boys, they all came. When we got to Cubo, before even walking in I remembered that comment that Marianna said and immediately thought, “maybe she is crazy.” I had to physically stop her, take a breath and say, “OMG, we’ve found it. This is the watering hole of beautiful Italian men. Bergamo is my favorite.” Little did I know my future husband was just inside those doors.
We walked in and Danilo told me, “choose which one you like, they’re all single.” I laughed about the thought that I could just pick one, and now I tell my friends to come to Italy and pick out their husbands. In the end, he picked me. I told Marianna that I was going to go get a beer and Alberto was next to her. “Se serve un aiuto alla tua amica, posso aiutarla io,” (if your friend needs help, I can help her) not thinking that I understood. I responded, “no, posso farlo io, grazie.” (no, I can do it, thanks.). I came back and he told me he stole my seat, I understood wrong and thought he said that he “saved my seat” so I responded, “grazie.” From that moment on, we spoke about work, about family, about things we want to do, or would never do. There was a little language barrier, but it was a perfect conversation. I was a little smitten, and the girls noticed. We all took a few pictures and then we were off to go dancing…. well, me and all of his friends. He left because he had to work the next day, and this really caught my attention. Marianna told everyone that the next day she had to work so maybe they could take me out in the center of Bergamo and after a few nudges, and giggles from all of his friends Alberto said that he would. (I never thought that he actually would though)
September 19th, 2015: Waking up after a fun night out (where I didn’t drink too much and danced my little butt off) felt nice especially when Marianna came running over to me saying, “Brittni, Brittni He texted me! He never texted me ever! He wants to know if you want to go out with him for an aperitivo!” She was so excited, and SO WAS I! I actually called my dad to tell him that I had a date (Alberto and I laugh about this now). Marianna brought me to the center of Bergamo where Alberto was meeting me “for our date night”. He was a little late and while I waited I was interviewed to be in their newspaper for their food and film festival. When I left the interview there he was. Alberto got there…. with four of his friends. This was not a date.
Was he interested? I felt really silly for a second, but it passed. We walked all around Città Alta, had some really good conversation about everything. Italians love to walk, that’s what we did for hours. He knew tons of people, and one of them was a clown (no joke!). Alberto gave me a balloon flower and his friend gave Alberto a sword. He then proceeded to make penis jokes about this sword, especially when it popped becoming an itty bitty tiny sword, haha! I loved his stupid sense of humor (he’s a funny guy). In between we stopped and had an aperitivo, a pizza later on, then he bought me a gelato. We did do some flirting and I was definitely interested but didn’t want to get my hopes up or be too available. I was tired and when he offered to take me home so I could stay out with them, I actually declined the invite (the old Brittni would NEVER do something like that). My flight was early the next morning, and if someone was interested in me, they would come to find me…
I watched him and his friends leave thinking, “man, it’d be nice to see him again, but I probably won’t.” He texted me immediately after asking for the selfie that I took of the group the night before. This was going to be his memory of me. We agreed to keep in touch to practice his English and my Italian. I never in a million years expected a message from him to be there when I got off the plane the next day in Florida…. and then every single day thereafter.
And then: We were CONSTANTLY texting, but I never got annoyed. Fully enjoying every moment, I made myself ok with the idea that maybe this was only a moment. However, something in me was so sure, no doubts. If he bought his ticket, he was the one. I just knew it. Just about two weeks later he bought his ticket to come to visit me. “WHEN YOU KNOW YOU KNOW” IS A REAL THING!
October 30th, 2015: Alberto arrived in Florida for our first visit, but this is no longer “how we met” so I’ll save it for another time.