Trip to Italy opens eyes to the past

By Rosemarie Gonzalez
September 26, 2002

John Verdi

Two Cabrini students were awarded a free trip to Italy this summer by the National Italian-American Foundation upon nomination by staff at the college. The students, John Verdi, senior and Anthony Contipodero, 2002 graduate, both of Italian-American descent, received the grant to go to Italy to find out about their heritage and culture.

Cabrini is affiliated with the National Italian-American Foundation, which has a Gift of Discovery Program for students to learn about their Italian culture. Members of the organization sent applications to the college, and faculty and staff nominated those students whom they thought deserved to go. Both Verdi and Contipodero were nominated by Dr. Mary Laver, coordinator of community outreach and partnerships in the Wolfington Center.

“I thought that this would be a great experience because I was finally going to learn about my heritage. Plus, I spent my 21st birthday there, which was really cool,” Verdi said.

They first landed in Rome, but they did not spend any time there at all, so they didn’t get to see the pope at all. The closest they got to see the pope was when they went to Viterbo and saw the Pope’s Palace during the Reformation Period. They spent most of their time in Sardinia, which is an island off the west coast of Italy. Seven days were spent there touring many small cities and villages.

Some sites included nostalgic villages, which dated back to 2000 B.C. and medieval villages that still had people living there. In a nostalgic village, Verdi got the opportunity to go inside of a cave that collapsed a few thousand years ago and saw the remnants of people who were warriors from the time before Christ.

“It was an awesome thing to see and I got to climb a mountain, which was about a mile and a half long, so it wasn’t too bad,” he said.

The medieval villages and how the people were still living there also amazed Verdi. The buildings, houses, streets and everything else surrounding you pretty much looked the same as it did during medieval times. There was not that big of a difference.

Verdi also discovered that the employment rate in Italy is very low compared to the United States. He met with Italian officials and professors that want to plan for a better life in the smaller cities of Italy. Since the economy is low in these areas, they want to develop them so that they may eventually become tourist attractions for people from all over the world.

Verdi said, “I was astonished by how the people are so content with the little things they have. Well, to us they are little, but over in Italy, they are big things. I just think that since we are so Americanized, we take a lot for granted.”

For fun, Verdi ate at many different restaurants. He had plenty of eight-course meals and everywhere he went they would give him some wine and plenty of salty ham, salami and cheese.

“The food was very good. That was probably the best thing aside from finding out about my heritage. I got some really good food,” said John.

“It was an amazing trip. I loved it there. I learned so much from just being there and seeing how the people lived. I was even in some newspapers over there. Although I don’t understand what most of them say, it’s just nice to see,” Verdi said.

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Rosemarie Gonzalez

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