An American Girl in Italy in the 60s


There’s nothing like living in Italy as a child, especially in the 1960s.

Those were the years before parents got paranoid of strangers snatching their children. We had the freedom to roam the neighborhood and play to our heart’s content. We were expected to have the good sense to come in at dark.

The Italians adored and honored children. When I went to my Italian friends’ houses, I was welcomed in, a chair was brought for me to sit with the family at the table, and a plate of food appeared in front of me. I was only eight, but I was welcomed more warmly then than I have been in the almost fifty years of my life since then.

The 60s was a magical time.  My mother played the popular passionate and melodious Italian songs at high volume as we cleaned the house on Saturday morning.  We knew all the words to the British and American catchy rock and pop songs. Teenage girls with their miniskirts and long straight hair and go-go boots were my idols. It looked to my childish eyes like there was nothing more fun that being a teenager.

My American school valued the Italian culture, and took us on field trips.  The highlight was a weeklong trip to the Matterhorn to ski. We had classes in the morning, and skied in the afternoon. Other field trips were to Vinci to see where Leonardo da Vinci was born; Collodi’s  fabulous garden and park featuring Pinnochio; and Carrara to see the marble mountain and watch the workmen cutting gigantic slabs as they had been doing for centuries.

We lived less than a mile from the beach. In the summertime, we rushed to finish our morning chores so we could walk to the beach. The adults in our lives didn’t hover over us, worrying if we were going to drown, or going to be sunburned, or going to be hungry. They trusted the lifeguard to do his job and expected us to take care of ourselves.

The 60s were the best time to be a child in Italy.

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