Anna Has a Dream

June 15,  2015

I go to the convent early in the morning. (Ex-convent, actually.) I use the terrace as my office. Anna, shiny as the rising sun–arrives with my cappuccio. I squirm at being served because we’ve become kissing friends. Here are the things about her that I bet you cannot guess:

Sicilian Barista, copyright Jann Huizenga

*She works 3 jobs.

*She has 5 kids.


Italians have one of the lowest birthrates on the planet. “And what surprises people more than my 5 kids,” says Anna, “is that all of them are with the same husband, and we’re still together!” Her oldest, a girl, is studying architecture in Venice.

People from Northern Italy claim that Sicilians don’t work hard. I have not found this to be true. Anna has two waitress jobs and teaches gymnastics to seniors. For fun she does amateur theater. How does she manage it all, looking gorgeous to boot? “I’ve taught my kids that a family must collaborate. Everyone must do what they can. The little one picks up her toys, and the bigger ones  clean and take care of their clothes. I do most of the cooking, but my daughter Lucrezia makes wonderful pastas with sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant.”

Her customers tell her things like: You cheer us up and If there were a contest in Italy for the most beautiful barista smile, you’d surely win. 

Anna’s dream, like that of many Sicilians, is to spend a bit of time in the US. She’d like to improve her school English by helping out in an Italian restaurant. Any ideas? Please let me know.



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34 comments to Anna Has a Dream

  • There you are again Jann. You have a sense for the most beautiful people inside and out. And they, in turn, are drawn to your sensitivity and intuition and let you share their lives with us. Grazie cara! x

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, Brava for Anna, anyone with all that love for family can’t miss. Follow your dream Anna, the world is waiting to welcome you

  • Lisa

    I just discovered your blog and the first story I read was about this lovely woman named Anna! My husband and I will be traveling to Sicily within the year – no dates yet, specifically the Ragusa Province. I will be looking you both up. thanks for the great post!

    • Jann

      Ciao Lisa–thanks very much for your comment & let us know when you come to town. Buon viaggio.

  • I have never known a Sicilian who hasn’t worked hard, including my son-in-law. If they aren’t working, it’s probably because there are no jobs available.

  • All these offers for Anna, and some are from Australia. You must both be pleased.

  • There are lots of Italian speaking owners of Italian restaurants in Melbourne. She could change her dream and come here!
    It is rather unusual in Italy to have so many children. What a lovely woman and your portraits of her too.

    • Jann

      Thanks Francesca, that’s something interesting to consider. And I could come along as chaperone.

  • mattea Francesco

    Oh!!!!! how I love to receive these emails…..I feel every heartbeat from the ‘boot’ and surroundings as I wish I was there to share it all….thank U…Mattea….

  • Love Anna’s story! And she’s so beautiful – and proof that having five children will not make you OLD before your time. I love her smile – thank you for sharing her story. I can’t wait to see where she ends up in the US – they will be blessed to have her.

  • Jann,
    I have an Italian restaurant near NYC and we would love to have her come for a month. The chef speaks Italian ( he’s Genovese)
    We could also put her up at our house. Great story about Anna. We visited Ragusa last month for a few days and fell in love with

    • Jann

      Dennis–I’m speechless! 🙂 When you were in Ragusa did you go to the Antico Convento in the Ibla gardens? That’s one of the restaurants Anna works in. I’ll contact you via your email address…. Grazie mille

  • Denise

    Anna’s wonderfull ! What a beautiful lady, mother and wife,.

    I love to hear your stories of Sicily, I’m an Australian and very fortunate but sometimes dream of the Sicilian family life style.

    Warmest wishes


    • Jann

      Ciao Denise, it’s so nice to hear all the way from Down Under. Thanks very much for your sweet comment & tante belle cose.

  • Robert

    Wonderful and inspiring story! Thanks, Jann! 🙂

  • Nancy

    Would you like me to inquire at our local Italian restaurants? I’d be willing to host her for a month if she wanted. We live in a snowy area in Pennsylvania.

    • Jann

      Nancy, you are so sweet! And you would love Anna–she’s a joy. Someone just wrote me from an Italian restaurant in New Orleans–they may be interested. SO…. let’s wait and see what the response is and what her options are. Thank you so much, and I’ll be back in touch.

  • Fascinating intro to a real go-getter, Jann!! I’m sure Anna would do well at whatever she undertakes; however, her first “job” right now would seem to be finishing the raising of those five precious kids (unless, of course, you’re talking about a temporary, short stint in the States, and her husband is willing and able to shoulder the full load while she’s away!!)

    • Jann

      Hi Debbie, yes we’re talking about a short (month) stint in the US. There’s only one child still in primary school, and her hubby is willing to take on the extra chores while she’s away.

  • I have a strong feeling that Anna will succeed in whatever she does.
    How inspiring to other women.
    Can she teach me Italian?!!
    And she’s beautiful.

    xxx kiss from MN.
    Ps. She should do some kind of exchange restaurant thing?? I am sure the people in America would love her.

    • Jann

      Kim, you 2 would make great conversation partners–her teaching you Italian and you teaching English. Are you sure you can’t fly over?????? xxxxxxxx

  • dennis

    Anna is a dream. She can come and visit me anytime.

  • Sam

    Instead of restaurant work, I think she should be writing a book explaining how one gets a family to work together as a team: how to “collaborate”.

  • Nancy

    Probably have to go to a big city to find a genuine Italian restaurant with Italian speaking owners. We have several that are owned by Italians but not sure about the speaking part. If she can find a restaurant possibly she can find someone to host her while she’s in the US. Sort of like an exchange student (we had 10). Does she want to come alone, or with her family? And for how long?

    • Jann

      Ciao Nancy, she’d like to come on her own for about a month or so, maybe in January-February 2016–low season here in Sicily when she wouldn’t be working. Thanks for asking!

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