From Italy with love

Adriana Saraga and Peter O'Brien with children Ava (2 years) and Joey (9 Months). Pictures: Rob Carew

By Melissa Meehan

A summer fling turned into life and babies on the other side of the globe for Adriana Saraga.

Adriana from Andezeno in north west Italy, met her now partner Peter when he visited her small village to attend a friend’s wedding.

The groom was Adriana’s cousin.

She was one of few people who spoke English, albeit self-taught from watching Disney movies.

They fell in love, she moved to Australia and now the Croydon couple have two young children together.

“It was supposed to be a summer adventure kind of thing,” she laughs.

“Before we knew we were in a little bit of trouble because we fell in love straight away.”

But after a long chat with her mum, Adriana knew it was meant to be.

So she made the almost 15,000km journey knowing no one but Peter.

In the month before she left, she spent weeks on YouTube to try and learn more about Australia.

“It was scary at first, but it’s great,” she said.

“He’s an amazing person. It’s been really hard with Covid-19 not seeing my family and he’s been so understanding.”

Her mum was lucky enough to visit and offer support after the birth of their first child, Ava – who is now two.

But she couldn’t bear to be there for the actual birth.

“She thought she couldn’t handle seeing me in pain, but it was great to have her here,” Adriana said.

Sadly, due to Covid-19 and border restrictions Adriana hasn’t been able to see her family but keeps in touch regularly.

Adriana, who has recently been granted her permanent visa, says Australia is where she plans to raise the kids.

“For us, we plan to stay here – there are more opportunities for the whole family here,” she said.

“As much as I love my family and my country, this is the place for us.”

There are some very big and some other subtle differences about growing up in Italy compared to Australia.

For instance, Adriana grew up surrounded by a huge family by Australian standards.

She was the eldest of more than 20 cousins, so had a lot of practice babysitting.

In her village, made up of only 2000 people, everyone knew each other.

Ava and Joey, who is nine-months-old, will learn to speak Italian too.

Adriana already speaks to Ava in Italian when they are alone, but in English when Peter is around because he doesn’t understand Italian.

“There are a few words she can swap easily between Italian and English. She knows she needs to speak Italian when on phone with Nonna and when she talks to my brother,” she said.

“And the way she says words in Italian – there’s a little bit of an accent, which is the cutest thing.”

For now, while the borders are closed, she’ll have to rely on video calls and her small Australian village, made up of friends from her mother’s group, organised by her local council.

“They have been fantastic, we still catch up now and it’s been such a great support for me. Some really great girls and friendships.”