Anthony Bianco’s trip to Italy lifted the lid on a few Italian truths

1. Your grandparents’ backyard is full of fruit trees

Old habits die hard! When I was growing up, I used to wonder why my grandparent’s back yard was full of fruit trees and vegetables and all of the Anglo families only had lawn. When I went to Italy I realised they’d just transplanted their ways of sourcing organic, seasonal produce from their backyard, straight into the kitchen for a tasty meal.

2. Alcohol is medicinal

My great aunt who lived to 98 told me that the secret to a long, happy and healthy life is to drink 500 ml of red wine a day, and have a dash of grappa (a rocket fuel spirit distilled from grapes) in your coffee in the morning. Sounds good to me!

3. Mangia, mangia, mangia!

Meals were a 7 course affair, and every course was accompanied with the one Italian word I could understand – ‘Mangia, mangia, mangia!’ (Eat, Eat, Eat)!

4. Crazy drivers are a way of life

I have a theory – the amount of religious paraphernalia on a car’s rear view mirror is a reliable indicator of how crazy the drivers are. The more crucifixes or rosary beads wrapped around the mirror, the more dangerous the driving is. I tested this theory in Italy, and I was proven right!

5. Olives come from the garage, not the deli

When I was in Italy we’d go to some guy’s garage to watch olives being pressed into olive oil. The smell is wonderful. Or we’d stop by a local winery where people go straight to the vat to fill up their 25 and 50 litre containers so they have an ample supply for lunches and dinners. There’s a more community feel to life.

Will Hamish Blake track down his great-grandmother’s birthplace? Find out, and see more of our Follow Your Roots stories here.