Taken from Talia Walker’s blog La piccola viaggiatrice (The Little Traveller), these words encapsulate the contradictory position of living as both Australian and Italian.
Walker, 25, was born in Australia to an Italo-Australian mother and an Anglo-Australian father.
Her mother’s parents were migrants from Abruzzo, who arrived in Australia in the ‘60s.
Strongly rooted in her Italian heritage, Walker’s blog is about her travels both far and close to home in Sydney, and reflects on what it means to be Italo-Australian.
“I remember in 2017 when I was visiting my grandmother’s town in Abruzzo,” Walker recalled.
“I was proudly introduced to everyone as l’australiana (the Australian) and la nipote di Licia e la figlia di Daniela (Licia’s granddaughter and Daniela’s daughter).
“So while I was recognised as Italian – my family comes from there, and I have Italian citizenship – I was also always known as the Australian.”
Walker laughed, and went on to agree that when she is in Australia, however, she is always known as “the Italian”.
It’s a feeling of dislocation which is inherent to any person of mixed heritage.
But Walker also has a culturally enriched sense of identity, and her blog is a chance to explore that.
This year, it followed her on another interesting trip to Italy, which included a visit to her grandfather’s hometown of Celano.
“I was so small the last time that I saw my grandfather’s sister that I really can’t remember much,” Walker wrote.
“Now, I know that she has an incredible smile which lights up not only her own face, but that of every person fortunate enough to be in the room with her.
“I now know that she loves to make people laugh, and will pull faces or shout out phrases in English (even without knowing what they mean) to entertain others.
“I now know that she is wonderfully sweet, and is a resilient woman full of life and determined to be happy.”
In that post, Walker admits that she no longer felt “like a visitor”.
She felt like she was going home.
Walker is fluent in Italian, having been inspired through her childhood travels to learn the language, so that she could really connect with her family.
Now, having completed both a bachelor and honours degree at the University of Sydney, Walker is researching and working in the Italian department there as she undertakes a PhD in Italian.
Walker’s PhD topic sounds interesting; it’s about the performance of apologies in Italian language and is strongly linguistic-centric.
Perhaps it’s her transnational blog, however, which most strongly maintains that closeness to her Italian heritage.
Walking into the village, I felt like I was coming home, to a place in which I have never lived.
Those streets, those homes, those fields – all are inherent aspects of that undeniable Italian heritage I carry with me each day.
The geography of that village and all who live there is etched in my heart; I know those streets, and I know that terrain.
Talia Walker, ‘The Curious Case of Returning to your Non-Birthplace’
You can read more on Talia Walker’s blog.