PIQUA — Although she lives several thousand miles away in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, Italy, 20-year-old Alice Terruzzi resembles a typical American millennial when it comes to fashion, music and aspirations to complete her education.
For the past three weeks, Terruzzi has been the houseguest of Melvin and Connie Porchers of Piqua. The relationship stems from Connie Porchers’ affinity for Christmas ornaments and Terruzzi’s lineage with Soffieria De Carlini, world-renowned glass blowers of artistic silvered hand-decorated Christmas ornaments in Milan.
Alice Terruzzi, who arrived with her father, Luca, to a Christmas convention in Rye, N.Y., in mid-summer, spent a week with a family in the New York City area before traveling to Piqua to spend time with her new American “family.” Father Luca Terruzzi heads up the glass blowing workshop within the family business. Her grandmother, Rosa De Carlini Terruzzi, is the daughter of Enrico De Carlini, who founded the business in 1947. Alice’s parents operate the factory for the exquisite Italian ornaments which Porchers has been selling online since 2003.
Relaxing in the backyard pool at the Porchers’ home, Alice described her first visit to the United States. “It’s very fast-paced,” she began, noting similarities between life in Milan and New York City. Accompanied by several daughters of New York hosts her own age, Alice had an opportunity to attend a performance of “Les Miserables,” visit Central Park and do some shopping in U.S. brand clothing stores — of which there are none in Milan despite it being a renowned fashion capital in Europe.
Although exhausted by all the walking in the Big Apple, the slender, dark-haired visitor enjoyed the experience, noting that when she returns to the U.S., she hopes to visit Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston and the West Coast.
Alice, who has one brother, Marco, 15, has enjoyed her stay in Piqua with the Porchers, visiting local sites as well as traveling to Cleveland and Cincinnati. A music aficionado, the young Italian guest especially enjoyed visiting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, observing, “It’s nice to know the history of music and where it comes from,” and adding she’s a special fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse and Elvis Presley, “who is the King.” Also a fan of Bon Jovi, Alice modestly admitted she sings in a six-member rock band made up of volunteers of the White Cross organization, which is equivalent to the Red Cross. “We’ve only practiced one time and we are bad,” she laughed. “We haven’t performed elsewhere yet.”
She especially likes seafood — oysters and mussels — and can’t get enough American hamburgers with ketchup and French fries. During her visit to Cincinnati, Alice and Porchers stopped at The Greene en route to their destination and shopped ‘til they dropped at several department stores and fashion outlets during their whirlwind trip. During a trip to Nordstrom’s, Alice was introduced to a stylist who outfitted her in three outfits with matching shoes and accessories. After each fitting, Alice sent an app photo to her mother in Italy for approval before paring down the choices, which included several fashionable tops and an assortment of jewelry.
In between activities, Alice has disciplined herself to study subjects such as chemistry and biology in preparation for entrance exams in September when she returns for her sophomore year at the Universita Di Pavia. She is currently enrolled in a five-year pharmacy program and, upon graduation, would like to perhaps work for a pharmaceutical company. Her mother and aunt both have pharmacy backgrounds and numerous relatives are either physicians or surgeons. Alice resides at home and commutes two hours by train daily to attend the university, which opened the first pharmacy school in Italy and counts among its student body many international students.
As her visit to Piqua winds down, Alice will attend an American-style wedding this evening before she departs. Asked what she looks forward to upon her return to Milan, she smiled and replied, “Pizza.”
Now that’s Italian!
Sharon Semanie is a journalist and longtime Piqua resident. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Belinda M. Paschal contributed to this story.