One summer when I was about 6 or 7, we went to Sicily to visit my grandparents. I don't remember too many things about my grandfather, Nonno Enzo, mostly because he was a quiet man. My grandmother was the center of the family in those days, and my grandfather liked to retreat to his study where he wrote poems and novels, and worked on his hobby of astrology. This search for quiet to work on writing, or other creative things and hobbies, is something he and I have in common. But if I think hard about it, I do have a few personal memories of him -- one of them quite important to me.
I remember how one day that summer I wandered into his study as his typewriter clicked away. His office smelled like books and papers and ink, and I loved it. Nonno stopped tapping the keys to greet me and asked me questions, but my eyes were soon fixed on the wall where there was a map. He must have seen how I stared at it, and he pointed to it and explained how the peninsula was Italy, the country I was visiting at the moment. He explained about the boot and the football, and he pointed to Catania on the eastern coast of Sicily. "This is where we are," he said. I remember feeling awed by knowing what Italy looked like, and by understanding my place on the map at that very moment. I have never forgotten it. Years later, as a teenager, I also had a map of Italy on the wall of my room. Italy was then, and still is, another home to me.