Written by Tanya Tecce, told by Rosa Agliata
Coming to America was one of my dreams. I immigrated to the United States in March 2000 for love and my job as director of Italy’s Campania Regione. I was charged with helping companies from Campania start up in the American market. My degrees are in political science and international politics.
My favorite period in history was the enlightenment (1685-1815), the “long 18th century”–the electric era when European teachers of philosophy, politics, science and communications began to question traditional authority and think outside the box on how to improve humanity. This and my desire to have a better under-standing of democracies and the constitutional republic led me to research more about Philadelphia.
Although not typically considered as international as New York City, Philadelphia began to appeal to me more and more over time. It was a very vibrant city and offered so much. I decided to live here and commute to New York daily by train.
Immersed in two “big cities” in my new American life, my understanding and resources increased exponentially and I was able to help my clients explore more than just the New York market. For me, it wasn’t only New York “as usual.” Philadelphia is more accessible in many ways and geographically strategic – perfectly situated between New York City and Washington, D.C. – and the cradle of American democracy and the American dream! Perfetto.
I’d been commuting to my fancy office (which I loved!) via train daily for a year and half when I had to adapt further, and get grounded in the here-and-now so I could decide what to do next, as I wanted to build a family For a while it felt like I was in limbo, so I completed a marketing program at Pennsylvania State University to elevate my marketing skills and utilize my love for fashion.
My exposure in Italy and both cities’ business and fashion was like an accelerated course. I realized how much potential there is when you combine the creative (right brain) with the practical, logical, pragmatic business (left brain) as the best formula to achieve your goals.
When the market crashed in 2008 I adjusted again and combined my business sense with my creative side and added importing beautiful items from Italy to my services for clients. This expanded organically when clients would ask me for guidance on the origination of items, their stories and background; how to use or present them in an authentically Italian way. I really enjoy sharing in this way. My passion is educating clients about styling, decorating, and living in an authentic Italian style. In 2016 I ventured out on my own.
As an immigrant, one of the things I love most about this country is despite some difficulties, when you have an idea it’s relatively easy to navigate the process, get the pieces in place and start small.
Sometimes I feel like a hybrid, or sometimes I feel split in half. For certain values I feel completely Italian: the creativity and our aesthetic feels as if it is imprinted in my brain and my blood! The other side – the practicality, the functionality, the sense of structure – I love that about the American way. Americans want to evolve and elevate ourselves personally, yes, and also in business and community. There are plenty of resources accessible to you here, both paid and free. It’s as if America wants you to succeed.
America brings right brain/left brain together. America brings West/East together, as in the examples of medicine, yoga, and the like. Business ventures and logistics run much smoother and with better flow here than in Italy.
Italians can be set in their ways. We had so many invasions so it makes sense to grab onto what we know so tightly. America is fresh soil to dig into, there’s flexibility here.
My mission has evolved to serving as the corpus callosum – the network of communication, translation and integration – between the two brain hemispheres. I bring coherence to the way to eat, the way to travel, the way to dress, and always with a sense of aesthetic, health, and beauty down to the smallest nuances. When we put together a plate of mozzarella and tomatoes it is a feast for your eyes and all of your senses – not just your stomach.
Americans rush through that, the beauty and elegance in the everyday; at the market or church, in other people. It’s everywhere. I teach to activate all the senses. It looks pretty, it tastes good, it smells good. It’s all good!
I’m doing what I love and people appreciate the benefits. I bring self-confidence through your beauty from the inside out. In true Italian fashion: through your clothes, your food, the way you travel, through your decor. How do you want to show up in the world, how do you want to express yourself? As an Italian woman from Napoli I know how to express myself!
Although I had my green card, in 2004 I chose to become American. I wanted to be part of this country. Everyone needs to belong to something, it helps you feel grounded. To belong to something helps you feel safe. To belong to two things, even better! I’m fluent in both lifestyles. It’s a great, luxurious feeling.
My world is without windows. I am a citizen of the United States of America and of Italy/Europe. I am not Italian-American. I am an Italian and I am an American. That’s the answer right there.
Rosa Agliata is an Italian fashion, style and food curator and the founder of My Italian Lifestyle, offering a curated experience that helps clients find and build their inner style and confidence.
OUR IMMIGRANT STORIES ARE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY STAMPONE O’BRIEN DILSHEIMER LAW