Italian-American revisits roots abroad

Columnist Matt Flocco talks about reconnecting with his heritage.

Greetings, Owls! While I am dismayed to hear you got a break on the first day of school, I get full bragging rights because I am studying abroad in Rome living “la dolce vita” (the good life).

Matt Flocco

I feel blessed because this opportunity is one not all students will get to experience due to financial strains and credit requirements, so I’m going to let you in on my experiences in Rome.

As you sit in Saxbys Coffee drinking your overpriced latte reading my column, you may ask, “Why Italy?”

I knew I wanted to study abroad as soon as I discovered it was a possibility.

The next step was to search Temple’s programs offered. I wanted to go somewhere I had not been, so Spain and London were both out.

I wanted to get away from the School of Communications and Theater for a bit – no offense to 95 percent of my friends and fellow writers. While I love my major and my SCT professors, I wanted to branch out and try something new.

That left Tokyo and Rome. I considered Tokyo for about a week, then thought: “Stunad” (as my father always says, which means stupid-head), you love pasta, Frank Sinatra and art history. You’re Catholic, you know Spanish already – which is similar to Italian – you want to get a tan to cancel out the Irish blood, and your hairy-chimpanzee arms will blend right in.

So here I am, home in Rome.

Though I’ll be in Rome for the next “cuatri mesi” or four months, I come from elsewhere in Italy. If memory serves, my nana comes from Sicily and my grandfather from Naples.

My genes are 50 percent Italian; the rest is a ridiculous jumble of French, Irish, Scandinavian, Mexican and Native American.

While I love Italian traditions, I practice very few. My grandfather passed away early and my grandmother lives in Chicago, so it’s tough to learn from their experiences, but I plan on picking up some Italian mannerisms.

This column was suggested to be open-ended. I narrowed possible topics down to discussing my Italian roots, swearing in Italian or writing about religion.

And while I would love to arm you with authentic Italian insults, sex positions and street slang, I would like to avoid damaging any sort of meager reputation I have earned. The world is not exactly seeking communications majors, so I need all the help I can get.

This leaves us with religion. I figured no one has done this yet, although I could be wrong.

As a liberal Catholic who writes about people going against God in his creative writing classes, I’m excited to explore my own faith while abroad.

I’m not going to go so deep as to question whether God exists, but for the record, let it be known I believe He does.

Not only will I be exploring the Catholic faith, I’m also going to explore all the stuff you saw in “Hercules” such as the ancient myths and rituals.

Perhaps the piece of the column I am interested to find out the most about is other religions in Rome. Where are the synagogues, mosques and temples? What about the agnostics and the atheists?

I want to know what faith and religion are like in a city of God, and I want to share it with you.

Matt Flocco can be reached at

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