Mom’s the word

Updated: 2011-06-17 11:18

By Mike Peters (China Daily European Weekly)

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Meanwhile, learning more about cooking and culture have been priorities in her second year in China.

"The first year when you come here, the first thing you see is that everything is so cheap. So you run to shop," she says.

"I had all the guidebooks, and every day I would look through them to see what new market I would go to that week."

Every market was a new adventure - in part because neither she nor her friends could speak with the sellers in the markets - but she loved the vibrant exchanges and learned the newcomers' art of pantomime.

While shopping is no longer her chief recreation, it's still one of the great pleasures she finds in China's capital.

"We've made a good life here," she says, noting that she has groceries delivered to her home, she has an ayi she depends on and she enjoys occasionally relieving stress with a massage.

"Going back to Italy, eventually, will be a shock," she laughs.

Meanwhile, she's become quite comfortable in China - even when the prospect of a new baby brought new pressure from her family to come home.

"They were always worried about me coming to China," she says, since what they'd seen on television made life here seem hard.

But her husband had been smitten by China in his international business.

When an Italian firm gave him a post representing its Hangzhou-based plastic-bottle packaging facility, that meant being a week in Italy and three weeks in China.

His wife wanted the family together more than 25 percent of the time, and soon they were making a new life in Beijing.

By the time she was pregnant, the Chinese capital was home - and several members of her family had visited from Italy and seen the comfortable life the Rizzos now enjoy.

"From the beginning of my pregnancy, I wanted to stay here," she says.

"If I went back to Italy, I would have had to fly before the seventh month, and I probably would have stayed four months after Lucrezia was born before we came back. And most of that time, my husband would be here in China! That just didn't make sense to me.

"Also, in Italy I would have been having the baby in a public hospital - in a room with 10 other women in labor.

"Here, I was in a Western hospital (Beijing United Family) where I could be private with my husband and we could really enjoy the moment."

Now a slightly wicked grin spreads across her face at having avoided her well-meaning relatives on that occasion.

"At home, there would be relatives every hour, full of advice," she says, laughing.

"I love them, but I think this way was healthier for me. And some of my family were able to come to Beijing for the baptism," which was in late May at Beijing's South Cathedral, a century-old French Jesuit landmark.

The Rizzos hope to stay in China for a while. Alessandro's contract runs for another year, and the family hopes it will be renewed.

"My life is here now," says Luciana, "and it will be good if Andrea, who is now 17, can finish school and learn more Chinese. And staying here will be more settled for the baby, too."

So in a three-tongue household, what language will little Lucrezia learn first?

That's a question that tickles her mother. "She will either be fluent in three languages or totally confused," she laughs.

People who know Luciana Rizzo are betting on the first option.

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