WWOOF Italia: The Beginning

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Earlier this month I gave you five reasons to join WWOOF Italia. Although the overall experience was life-changing, it did not come without problems. Here is my story.

My first problem occurred two months before I arrived in Rome, Italy and it was a blessing in disguise. I lost my job of six years in Hollywood, California.

As fate would have it, the weekend that I lost my job was also the beginning of Oscar week in Hollywood along with the L.A. Italia Film Festival. For six years, I lived two blocks away from the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars took place, and even closer to the famous Graumann’s Chinese Theatre. Now I had some free time.

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Before I begin I must provide some context. My Dad’s family is Italian and immigrated from a small village near Naples in the early 1900s. In October 2009, I traveled to the villages of Solofra and Avellino (yes, where Tony Soprano’s family was from) on the last day of a month-long backpacking trip, and had quite an eventful day, to say the least. You can read about it HERE.

In college, I studied Communications-Mass Media, and also received a Bachelor’s Degree in History. What was my final research paper on? Italian Immigration to the United States 1880-1920. Who was the woman I was pursuing back in 2004? An Italian girl (a real Italian girl). What movies did I watch? Italian movies – specifically Italian Neorealism. My favorite movie director? Martin Scorsese. The great Italian-American filmmaker is well-known for his gangster films, but have you heard about his documentary called “My Voyage To Italy?” The film was a huge inspiration for me back then and continues to be to this day. Check it out HERE.

Here is a brief timeline of events:

May 2004: Graduated from college. I was supposed to arrive in Rome on my birthday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo), for a three-week Exploration Seminar but I signed up too late. FAIL.

June 2006: Moved to Hollywood.

July 2009: Quit my job in Hollywood; decided to stay after new perks and month vacation (which I used to travel to Europe).

October 1-31 2009: European backpacking trip. On day one, I arrived in Madrid and met my cousin who was working for WWOOF in Spain. Why is this relevant? Keep reading.

October 31, 2009: Disastrous/Inspiring trip to the village of my ancestors. If you haven’t already, please read about it HERE.

February 17, 2012: Let go from my job in Hollywood.

Now that you have some background, you may understand why I was thrilled to hear that L.A. Italia would begin two days after I lost my job. Not only would it take place in my neighborhood, but it was free. The first film I saw was a documentary about the great Sophia Loren called “Becoming Sophia.” She is commonly associated with Naples, however she is from the nearby town of Puozzoli. I didn’t know it then, but I would be there 2 1/2 months later. Or would I? More on that later. Halfway through the festival, I was watching films about Naples and reminded of my experience in 2009. If only I could back…

After a week of free films (I saw 15), meeting Italian film legends (Dario Argento, Franco Nero, Dante Ferretti) and a little Oscar fun…it was time to make a decision about my next move in life.

The following day I spoke with two cousins. The first was Cerina Vincent, who has been an actress in Hollywood for fifteen years and helped me get acclimated to the town six years prior. Hours after meeting with Cerina, I received an unexpected phone call from my cousin Cody. Who is he? The cousin I met with in Madrid, Spain in 2009. We discussed his latest WWOOF experience in Hawaii, and I spoke about a desire to return to Italy.

“Hey man, you know there is a WWOOF Italia right?”

Lightbulb!

To be continued…

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