Within a year of my arrival to Northern Michigan, I can say that it has been a huge VENI VIDI VICI experience. I came to this small town where I found great people and I easily “conquered” their hearts – and vice versa.
This pretty town crossed by the 45th parallel, Traverse City has an incredible – and more than sure, magical – particularity: Once you land here, it doesn’t take too long to call it Home.
Talking about great people, I would like to talk about the most inspirational and full of happy ending story of the town that I now call home:
As with every single town in the world, Traverse City met difficult times during its history. One of the toughest times was probably when the town needed to decide what to do with the abandoned, eerie Traverse City State Hospital, in the past known as the Northern Michigan Asylum.
Every single time I stop by and look what the Traverse City State Hospital has become after more than $30 million investments in it’s over a decade of restorations, I like to think of it like an enormous slap in the face to the global Economic crisis. Sometimes it takes great people with no fear and huge trust in their capabilities, in order to accomplish tough and hopeless projects. In the Asylum’s case, it only took a couple of people to go against every single odd. The local developer, Raymond Minervini endorsed by his wife Marsha Minervini, won the big battle of convincing the Big People that their vision was the best for the town. They gained ownership of 63 acres and 27 Victorian-Italianate brick buildings. What they accomplished is incredible. They gave a new identity to what was supposed to be demolished and forgotten. Many years of hard work made it possible for the now called The Village to emerge as a successful retail, office, and residential hub and interesting destination for domestic and international tourists.
Since a young age, I believed those good people would always find a way to connect to each other. Spending time in one of The Village’s retail shops, I had the nice opportunity to meet the man behind the great restoration: Raymond Minervini. In this case what probably made that happened easily was the fact that I spent half of my life in Italy. Ray’s parents are originally from Abruzzo, Italy.
Besides what he and his wife have accomplished, they also had the vision to create an Italian community in the heart of The Village of Traverse City. The first part of my thoughts was dedicated to how I feel home in this town that I’ve lived in for less than a year. C.I.A.O. Al Villaggio organization and its key people, Barbara and Antonietta, have a huge “fault”. Traverse City is home for me even thanks to C.I.A.O’s many activities. Their Italian cinema nights and Bocce Ball tournament have a great power: You almost forget whether you’re in Italy or abroad.
During the Tenth Annual Bocce Tournament, I was pleasantly surprised by how strongly people love their roots. Their interest for the Italian kitchen gave me the opportunity to eat amazing dishes that I used to enjoy back in Italy. The first bite of their grilled Italian style sausages took me right back to my time in Italy. Those people with their charming souls and choice of music made me feel like part of an Italian family.
Good job C.I.A.O Al Villaggio and thanks for teaching me how to play Bocce Ball! Participating in your tournament was a great experience that I will definitely not miss it next year!
Thanks, Barbara and Antonietta for not letting me miss Italy too much!