Finding America Half a World Away

As I approached my second Independence Day abroad, I sighed. I guess it’s time to throw in the towel on my favorite holiday and the traditions it brings. Sure I’ll admit it, I really love the Fourth of July for the lakes, boats, brews and, of course, the fireworks. I know there should be more reason to love Independence Day, and I do appreciate that; but it’s about the traditions, the family, the food, and all the things that make the days special.

Here I was in Italy, living with an Italian who still doesn’t understand why we have Thanksgiving, and I was doomed to another non-existent Fourth. I was ready to watch the day pass as another lazy Sunday. Then, my oh-so-involved expat friend posted me a link to the Tuscan American Association celebration of this overseas tradition.

That blazing Sunday we found ourselves, Italian-toting Americans wide-eyed staring at the grills and frills set up to celebrate our holiday. We arrived early and made a beeline to the hotdog stand, complete with ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish and all the traditional sides. We spent the first mind-numbingly-hot hour in the shade with hotdogs and (Dutch) beers in hand. Around us there were tables full of gawking Italians waiting for the other food stands to open so they could snag some Tuscan fare.

We were content. We wondered around “Main Street USA” and laughed at the photos comparing Italy to America over the years. My favorite being the Lire to AMEX comparison.

The night was spent in the thankfully cooling air, sipping beers and listening to some local band rattle off some great covers, as well as original songs, and watching at the American students bounce around in front of the stage. We were even treated to a unexpected fireworks show from across the river.

The only thing I needed to make this my perfect celebration was the token lake and boat combo. Nothing beats a cold one on the back of the boat, or better yet halfway submerged in the cool water thanks to a trusty inter-tube.