A Strong Connection
A Reflection on Italian Heritage by Stefano McCoy
Meet Stefano McCoy, an Italian American guy who, just like us, loves to discuss the cultural nuances of Italy and the U.S.A.
Stefano, can you tell us about your heritage?
In the summer of 1979, my father was visiting his sister in Switzerland, when he decided to take a trip to Italy. He was walking down the Aurelia – the Italian highway 1 – when a man on a Vespa offered him a ride. My father was hesitant because he had been warned that Italians were too emotional and reckless at times (not to say crazy), but he accepted the ride.
The man brought my father to my mother’s restaurant in a small seaside village called Sori. It was a life-changing ride, after all, and my father never regretted that he took a chance and opposed a cultural stereotype. My parents stayed in touch for 15 years after their acquaintance. In 1989, my mother visited my father after a devastating earthquake in the region. They got married on Valentine’s Day and exactly nine months later, I was born in Santa Clara, California. Therefore, I’m proudly 50% Italian (from Genova), currently living in Santa Cruz, California.
What does Italian heritage mean to you?
Growing up, I went to Italy every summer until I was 14. I spent a lot of time in a small town called Piedmontese, Mombaruzzo, where the local kids gave me rides on their scooters, and I experimented with hashish and wine at a young age. I also spent much of my summers in Genova, cruising around the ancient alleyways and eating focaccia, while unconsciously picking up the Genovese accent. On a recent trip to Italy, I was told I sounded like a Genovese sailor. I’m not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, but I preferred to treat it as a former.
Stefano, your Italian is perfect, and your light Genovese accent is fantastic. Do you still have a strong connection with Italian heritage?
Well, my parents divorced, and it was decided that I would spend a full year in Italy. Everything changed in the 8th grade. At the time, I was devastated by this prospect, but it turned out to be the most formative and inspiring experience of my life. I made countless friends and became much more fluent in Italian. My youthful experience still pays dividends today. Now that I’m 30, it’s getting harder and harder to spend much time in Italy. I am looking for a way to give myself a professional excuse to go back and forth and to keep a connection with my roots.
We know that surfing is one of your passions. Can you tell us about that and other interests?
Yes, surfing is one of my greatest passions. Growing up in Genova, I developed a deep passion for the sea that has stayed with me throughout my life. I enjoy surfing on every possible occasion. I perceive the waves the way I treat life, with energy and optimism. Sometimes, the waves push me down, but I get back on my surfboard over and over again and finish the day by dominating them.
I am also passionate about cooking, photography, music and fitness As you have noticed, I’m proud to be half Italian and like to talk about the connection between Italy and the USA. As a matter of fact, I created “The Made in Italy Podcast” available on the web. My mission is to make known people (and their endeavors), whose abilities, love for adventure, generosity, and business acumen may be of inspiration, especially to young people on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.
For one of Stefano McCoy’s podcasts click here
by Severino Ricci
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