Home / Author Archives: Danielle Festino

Author Archives: Danielle Festino

Danielle was born and raised in Stoneham, now resides in Medford, and has roots in Puglia. In 2004, she graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in International Relations and Italian Studies. She is passionate about telling stories and hopes to provide a glimpse into what it means to grow up Italian-American.

Confessions of a carboholic

Nutella

I walked into the dining room and my jaw hit the floor. Before me was a three-tiered altar, draped in white cloth, holding gorgeously decorated, ornately shaped pieces of bread. From afar, it looked mouthwatering: gorgeous, porous, crunchy-on-the-outside, heaven-on-the-inside Italian bread. Each masterpiece had been skillfully molded by hand into the shapes of horses, ducks, hearts and crosses, and brushed with egg before baking. At the top of the tiered structure perched a large portrait of the baby Jesus with his father. I was 7, at my first feast for St. Joseph, and had just discovered my drug of choice: ...

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#Age of Jesus

Rome-web

“How are we celebrating your birthday next week?” my mother asked as we gave our dog, Rufus, a bath. In truth, she was giving him a bath, while I took pictures of his adorable, soapy face. I’m very helpful like that. I groaned. “Let’s not and say we did?” “No! You are the age of Jesus. We need to celebrate!” “The age of who now?” “L’eta di Gesù,” my mom repeated matter-of-factly as she pulled a flailing Rufus out of the tub and began to towel him off. “Because I’m 33?” “Exactly. My mother always used to say it was ...

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Of kidnappers and cockroaches

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The first thing I noticed was the cleanliness of the hotel room; the second thing I noticed was the intruder. I was on a business trip to one of the “kidnap capitals” of the world. I had prepared by reading the city’s State Department warnings and convinced myself there was a statistical likelihood that I would, in fact, be kidnapped. From there, I hoarded mal occhio charms, watched Buffy re-runs, and wrote heartfelt letters to my family in case I was sold into a human-trafficking ring and never returned. By the time I checked into the hotel, I was sporting ...

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Finding Something Positive in Boston’s Worst Winter

boston-snow

Most Italians know that when you lose something, you should pray to Sant’Antonio. This small act of asking for help usually works. As such, I have been sending him desperate pleas quite often these past few weeks; I hope by the time this story is published, he will have answered my prayers and the city of Boston will have found its lost sidewalks. Or at the very least, I hope we can back out of our driveways without performing the sign of the cross and whispering a silent prayer that we don’t get hit. I don’t think I’m alone when ...

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Foul Faux Pas, or… No Birds in the House!

pasquale-home

Like most tales of woe, it started off innocent enough. My best friend Paul and I were lazily walking the holiday décor aisles of Target. We did that sometimes after dinner on a Friday night. We’d head to Walgreens or Target, peruse the dollar bins for knick-knacks and bargains, and pat ourselves on the back for treasure-hunting such amazing deals. If I’m being honest, we still do that today; we did it last week. But I digress. On the night in question we had grabbed a bite to eat at TGIFriday’s in Everett and had walked over to Target to ...

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Dating Disaster All Over Again

Dating_Disaster

I had been listening to Solo Noi on repeat for days. I just turned 30 and had just been dumped. And Solo Noi, with its dramatic music and haunting lyrics, is arguably the best breakup song of all time. Anyway, after two weeks of moping and constant Toto Cutugno melodies, my friends and family encouraged me to get back into the dating scene. Shortly thereafter, I met Luke through an online dating site. The only facts I knew about him included: his name, his age (29), his employment status (graduate student), where he lived (Medford) and that his mother was ...

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Love comes softly

vin-and-ang

One of my mother’s favorite films is the Hallmark Channel’s 19th-century period piece “Love Comes Softly,” starring a fresh-faced Katherine Heigl. The story centers on a pregnant widow who finds herself stranded out West during the winter and forced to live with a widower and his daughter on his farm. At the outset, the couple hates one another of course, but slowly they cultivate a mutual understanding and respect, and ultimately develop a passionate and deep love. At one point in the movie, her neighbor — a slightly older woman who has perhaps picked up on the chemistry between the ...

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Returning to Italy: Any Suggestions?

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“What are you going to write about this month?” asked my sister. I let out a long sigh, “I haven’t a clue. Maybe I have writer’s block or something? Any ideas?” She was quiet for a minute. Although my sister Lisa lived hundreds of miles away in Washington D.C., I could picture her deep in thought: phone in hand, lips pursed, eyes slightly squinted. #184162944 / gettyimages.com “Hmmm … what about the time you slapped me in Basilicata?” I laughed; I should have seen this coming. “You are never going to let that go, are you?” “Nope. Never. You slapped ...

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Mi scappa la pipì, Pina

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My love affair with Nutella was one for the ages. I don’t recall when we first met, I only know that we were always drawn to one another. It wasn’t until I was studying abroad in Bologna, though, that we took our relationship to the next level. I’m not sure if my senses were just heightened or if the Nutella in Italy simply tasted better, but either way, our love grew stronger with each passing day. The chocolate and hazelnut combination somehow seemed richer and deeper as I spread it on cookies in my little studentato. I could find a ...

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Keep calm and rock salt on

rock-salt-on

I ate a lot of rock salt as a child. I know, right? It sounds gross and wrong and downright dangerous. You are wondering: why and how? You may not believe me, but I promise I’m telling the truth and I’m going to answer your questions. Well … some of them. A lot of people blame “falling on their head as a child” as the reason they are weird or foolish. I blame the rock salt and constantly offer it up as an explanation for my shortcomings. You can’t wink? Why can’t you wink? Well, I ate a lot of ...

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My journey toward “la bella figura”

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“Where do you think you’re going dressed like that?” my father demanded, his voice dripping with disapproval. He was seated at the kitchen table, reading the Sunday Globe. I glanced down at my Wellesley t-shirt, worn sweat pants, and beat up Chuck Taylor sneakers. I ran my hand through my disheveled hair and answered back with the attitude of the 18-year-old-know-it-all that I was, “Ah, I’m going to the supermarket … is there a problem?” He sighed, took a deep breath, and thought for a moment … as if he wasn’t quite sure how to turn his thoughts into words ...

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And the horse he road in on

horse-home

“I’m wondering if you ever sell horse meat?” The butcher looked at me for a moment, and I could have sworn I saw his moustache twitch.

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