Tuesday, 28 September 2021 | News today: 0

Macedonians and Italians share a genuine passion for football

Italian Alessio Zuccarini says Macedonia has a lot to offer. Beautiful nature, historical landmarks, unique traditional food. He has been living and working here since 2004. He says he appreciates the readiness of the Macedonian people to help. He told “Republika” that love was crucial to make a decision to stay in Macedonia because here he met his wife Silvija.

When did you first come to Macedonia?

I moved to Skopje in January 2004, as I started working here for the European Union. Skopje was quite different back then!

You come from a country with different culture and tradition than Macedonia. How did you manage to adapt to the life here?

It is not as easy as it seems to adjust to life abroad. You need to break out of your comfortable “cocoon” and try to immerse yourself in the local culture. The first major step is to let go the false impressions and stereotypes and build your own reality based on real experiences.  However, after living in a foreign country for a while little things that were charming you at the beginning could become annoying too. You need to simply accept the fact that things are simply not the same and you need to be patient, humble and respectful. You should always respect the golden rules of the good “guest”.

How did you decide to stay in Macedonia?

It was a natural choice that matured after time, it happened smoothly and lightly. I simply decided that the best thing for me was to stay close to the person I love.

Do Macedonian people provide you help when you need it?

I have always appreciated the readiness to help from the people.  I was lucky as I found good friends and they have always been there with their hints and suggestions when I needed support.

What is your opinion about the Macedonian people, the lifestyle here?

Well, as I said i respect the golden rule of the good guest. It would be very inappropriate from my side to express opinions on the people of Macedonia. What I can say is that I found quite few similarities between people here and my country (Italy) in terms of mentality: we care about our family ties, we respect the traditions and we take football (too) seriously!  We also share a genuine passion for good food, spending quality time with our friends and all those “mediterranean” traits that our friends from northern Europe often fail to understand. That said, I also hope that the current (and too-long lasting) climate of mistrust and polarization among Macedonian people will end soon. We all need to work for the future of our daughters and sons and it is not by arguing on everything and dividing ourselves over power-struggles of political (and economic) reasons that we will be able to do so.

Your wife Silvija Mitevska through the written word is a real ambassador of Macedonia. Recently she won the special award Slow Food-Terra Madre in Italy for her short story “Lucia’s dream”. How much support is needed from a husband for such achievements?

Of course I am biased but let me say it loud: I am very proud of Silvija. She has an incredible energy and doesn’t turn her back to challenges, even the most difficult ones. Take the book she wrote, for example. “While Dante sleeps” was written during the first months of life of our son. Those are very challenging times for a couple since we have to learn to be parents. Well, she managed to turn those moments of “quiet”, when our son Dante was asleep, into creative and productive parenthesis thus writing the stories for her book. When Dante was awake though she was always a perfect mother, isn’t that amazing?!  We have been on both the giving and the receiving end of supporting and believing in each other. And we both love giving and receiving support each other, who doesn’t? We believe that it is very important and also helps us to stay connected and grow together.  The fact that she has won a literature price in my country with her story  “Lucia’s dream” doesn’t surprise me after all, knowing her potentials.

Do you like the Macedonian cuisine?

I love the traditional food here as the cuisine combines Balkan and Mediterranean characteristics. My favorite dishes are tavce-gravce, ajvar, and pastrmajlija. Of course I also love skara (grilled meat) and here I have to give credit to my father-in-law Meto since he makes the best skara ever, I guarantee. I also appreciate some of your wines which in recent years have become more and more quality oriented.

How much free time do you have to travel across Macedonia? What do you think, which are the best places to visit in Macedonia?

We travel quite often across the country. We love the nature,  hiking, paragliding, bicycling , skying, and your country has a lot to offer in this respect. From Mavrovo to Ohrid, passing by Pelister and Krushevo there are so many beautiful places to discover and enjoy! I also suggest to my friends visiting not to miss Heraclea Lyncestis and Stobi as they are very remarkable archaeological sites.

Do you miss your home country?

I think I have passed that stage some time ago.

What are your plans, are you staying in Macedonia?

We are not planning to leave Macedonia although we are aware that many people decided to leave in the recent years seeking for more elsewhere. We have a responsibility as parents and we keep our “antennas” up because, like all other parents, we care about the environment in which our son is growing up.  Let me put it like this, if I may: it will be Macedonia to tell us if we can stay or otherwise. We are here and love this land and its people but, as they say, we must be in two to dance a tango. We hope that Macedonia will always offer us the right conditions to keep dancing together!

By: K.N.K.