Three months into my Project 365 and it seems a good time to take stock, so last night I looked back on all of my experiences to date.
What surprised me was that considering that the majority of the pictures have been taken in the North East, how many nations have been represented in my portraits so far. There are at least 14 countries apart from the UK that have supplied one of my subjects (it’s possible that some of those I’ve assumed to be Anglo Saxons have a more exotic origin, but unless there’s an accent to give them away I haven’t tended to ask.
I don’t consider us the most cosmopolitan of regions yet I have representatives from Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North America. Must go out and find some South Americans! What is perhaps surprising is that amongst the Europeans I have met there has not been an Italian thus far.
Italians have made themselves at home in the UK for nearly two thousand years, thanks to the Roman invasion ordered by Claudius in AD43, the migration of Italian bankers in the middle ages, and then when the Napoleonic wars ravaged the agriculture of Northern Italy another wave came to these shores in search of a better living. This last group almost exclusively established food businesses, and so “Britalians” became known for their ice cream parlours, coffee bars and restaurants.
Of course when I refer to them as Italians I do so to identify their geographic origin, since Italy as a nation was not formed until the middle of the 19th Century when the various regions that had built up around the mediaeval city states were unified in 1861.
My experiences of Italians when I grew up were of Italians in the food trade, the Notariannis and Minchellas provided the sea front ice cream cones of my youth, and slightly further afield I encountered Rianis and Di Mambros in Houghton le Spring where my father’s business was located, and Valente in Seaham where he was born.
Whether my love of Italian food goes back to these fondly remembered days, or the travels my family and I have made in that beautiful country I cannot say, but it says a lot when my birthday yesterday was marked with everything I need to make the perfect cappuccino or espresso and a rather nice bottle of grappa!
The lack of Italian representation is therefore all the more surprising. I was in Gabriele’s, provider of great pizza since my teens and local institution celebrating last night (but didn’t take Nevio’s picture as I was off duty!), to my mind the best restaurant in the Sunderland and South Tyneside area is Romano’s in Cleadon, and our regular walks along the coast take us past the door of Little Italy, so no excuse! My blog has even been read in Italy, which makes this omission all the more inexcusable.
Time to put that right, so off I went to Gabby’s again. I could have added Portugal to my list of countries with some of the other staff, but it was the real Italian that I was after and sure enough he was there by the bar and happy to pose. Second bite of the ciliegio!