We asked some former members to talk about their experiences with the Benvenuto Club. How did they found out about the Club, why did they join and how did it influenced their stay here in Italy...
What did Benvenuto mean to me?
Moving to a new country with your husband’s company when you don’t speak the language and with 3 teenage children is a challenge!
Being welcomed into the Benvenuto fold was a life saver, from when we were first looking at rental properties with Anne and she explained about Benvenuto and the support/friendship it offered it made the move less daunting.
Joining the group I could have been occupied every day with different activities, book group at Anne’s, Yoga with Janu and all of the Special Activities that were on offer. A personal favourite was Ester’s Market Tour. It was very strange to be at home, not working in the very demanding job I had in the UK so being busy was great.
In our second year I was the Special Activities Director on the Board, invaluably assisted by Ester’s local knowledge and ideas, the attached photo was that year’s board with Mary as the President. Highlights of this year were a trip to Switzerland, the visit to Portofino and the wine trip, along with working alongside a great group of women.
Kathryn Ann Lee
I arrived in Monza in 1988 and had to travel to Milan initially to attend Benvenuto club meetings before the Benvenuto Club of Monza was founded. For me the club provided a lifeline of people from all over the world and the friendships forged were incredibly important, replacing friends and family left behind. There was also the opportunity to go on cultural excursions, join interest groups and give back to the local community through supporting local charities. The Monza Benvenuto Club has a special place in my heart and I consider myself fortunate to be able to visit occasionally as I now live fairly close by in Lugano in Switzerland. Pam Blakey
Sisters from another mister
I was a member of Benvenuto ten of its 30 years (2007-2017) and outside of my Italian husband and sons, it was the only local “family” I had. I’ve been out of Italy for three years now but I miss all of the “lifers” greatly and often recall the years when I thought I was one.
I was a new mum when I first joined and I left a mother of three. My husband’s chiropractic practice was supported by the group and our family made some amazing friends who we still keep in touch with, others who we’ve lost touch with but hope that they still know we love them, and some who are no longer with us today. The group was a big support during my mom’s death and I’m grateful for the time I had doing yoga or traveling with the group while representing both the USA, where I was born, and the Philippines, where I became a naturalised citizen.
I didn’t move to Italy aware that there were groups like Benvenuto but I left knowing that I now have family in the area. Happy 30 years, ladies and cheers to 30 more! I hope you can make it to Dubai or Manila one day or to all see you if we make it back for a visit home this year.
Jeanne Stokowski - Bisanti
I was a member of the Benvenuto Club for the 5 years in which we lived in Monza, if I remember correctly 1993 to 1998. It was a wonderful way to make new friends in the area with whom I could share the ups and downs of trying to learn a new language and live in a totally new environment. It was better than other expatriate groups I have joined because it included Italians and allowed me to meet very special people for whom Monza was home. They are still my very dear friends. The presence of local people also added a very rich dimension to our activities as they shared with us their history and local knowledge on our trips and excursions. Joining the club was a huge help in learning Italian, it meant that I can now hold my own in conversation even after so many years in English-speaking countries. The expatriate people I met through the Benvenuto Club who still live in Monza or moved away to other countries are also friends I greatly cherish, they live all over the world now and we catch up when we travel to their home countries. I cannot express adequately my gratitude for their support and loving kindness when we suffered the worst tragedy that can befall any parent, the loss of our son. The bonds I formed through mutual need for companionship and support have endured over the 22 years since we moved from Monza to London and then back to Australia. The Benvenuto Club was certainly a blessing for a lonely woman struggling with homesickness far from my homeland, and helped me appreciate so much more a country I still love and visit often. Roz Zito, Australia