Gerolo is the name of my mother’s family farm located about thirty minutes south of Milan, Italy. I was fortunate enough to spend many long summers on that farm. It is a big part of why I love Italy, my experiences and time spent with my family there are invaluable. Arriving in Gerolo, you quickly find that you have stepped back into time. My brother and I were the only American grandchildren Gemma and Savino had, and to make matters worse, we didn’t really speak that much Italian. Although we were raised by Maria Raffo, my lovely mom, in California (which was a mini-version of living in Gerolo, naps and all) there really was no preparing us for the kind of culture shock that we would experience each and every time we would visit the farm.
We learned very quickly that Gerolo was very different than what we were accustomed to, but it quickly felt like home. Although it lacked some of the basic “necessities” we were used to like, ice cubes, hot water, screens on the windows, milk from actual containers from a store, air conditioned cars, The Price is Right, etc, it didn’t matter. It was a magical place for Glenn and I. We had nothing but time and freedom to roam the gardens and land on our bikes made in 1940, plenty of good wine on the table for our meals, our amazing Italian family close by, and daily events and meals that kept all of us close and connected each summer day. Summers were always amazing, and we always returned with a bit more appreciation to life and the little things that really mattered. Gerolo seems to always put things in perspective, especially returning to Southern California.
The photo above is one of my all time favorite photos. I believe the year was around 2006. Siena, Isabella, and Gemma Raffo walking back from one of the gardens on the property. Both girls have spent time in Gerolo, and both were even baptized across the river from our farm in a church located inside a castle called Roveleto. Gerolo will always be a very special and magical place to all of us.