Giovanna Fletcher Giovanna Fletcher

A tribute to my Nonna

Yesterday my Nonna passed away. You might think it’s too soon to be writing a post about it, but she’s being buried today. They don’t wait around in Italy. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d take some time to sit and reflect. To think about the wonderful lady she was and tell you a little about her. And she was wonderful. Truly.

My 96year old Nonna didn’t speak English. We don’t really speak Italian. Yet the language barrier never stopped us communicating. Obviously it’s always been handy having my dad there to translate, but so much is said in the tone of voice, with facial expressions and body language. Italians are so expressive, although often seem to be furiously shouting about something catastrophic when, in actuality, they’re simply talking about dinner plans.


I could never have a proper one on one conversation with my Nonna, but I understood her in a very different way. She enthralled me. When we were younger we’d go to Italy every year and I can remember being so excited to see her during the day-long drive. Often Dad wouldn’t tell her we were going over. We’d arrive unannounced but it wouldn’t take long for us all to be sitting around the table eating pasta.

Nonna was the real life Wonderwoman. Having raised four children largely on her own, survived a horrendous earthquake which robbed her of her home and then living in, what should’ve been, temporary accommodation for over two decades. Nonna would walk up the mountain to the fountain with a bucket on her head and a basket under each arm. She’d put her hand in fire and turn logs without even flinching. Her hands were made of stone – something we know to be fact as when making chilli mash together she’d peel the skin of boiled potatoes as though they were cold, whereas we couldn’t even pick them up.

Nonna had a voice that could carry, a shout that told you when you were in serious trouble. Yet her laugh was infectious. It came from the belly and caused her shoulders to bounce. She had a kind heart. When we were younger we’d kick off our sheets in the night because it was so hot. Nonna would come by and put the sheets back over us. We’d stay like that until she was gone and then kick them off again. She gave the softest cuddles and made little noises like ‘do-do’ in our ears, which she’d always cackle after doing.

Leaving my Nonna was always the worst part of any trip, and it’s never become any easier. During our last visit my Nonna was already in hospital. Saying goodbye to her on the ward was heart-wrenching. Not seeing her standing at the door of the house waving us off was an emotional moment. I wished we’d seen her stood there again and I’m sad to know that we won’t.

My Nonna was a special woman and incredibly important to all of us. She was the one in charge, the one we all looked up to. I’m so deeply upset that she’s gone, but she will forever be in our hearts.

Gi. Xx

10 Discussions on
“A tribute to my Nonna”
  • Dear Giovanna

    Please except my condolences on the loss of your beautiful nonna.

    I too understand what it means to loose a nonna who I admire miss everyday.

    Being Italian myself I know what you and all your family are going through.

    Best wishes


  • Thank you for sharing this beautiful woman with the world Mrs. Fletcher. These are the things I hope to leave behind some day. Though my hands will take some work to get to her warrior level of hand toughness. Not to mention character toughness. God bless you all.

  • Dear Gi so very sorry for your loss but always remember the good time with your wonderful Nonna. Thank you for sharing this it is a beautiful tribute to her and all the memories you have of her will be perfect to share with your boys when they are old. Take care of yourself and cry as much as you need to…. it does help xxx

  • Giovanna , I have been watching your blogs for a few years now and a year ago yesterday world was shattered when my much loved dad passed away , two weeks after this my nan who was suffering with Alzheimer’s passed away. Your blogs have always had such positivity and are so family focused there really have kept me grounded this past year and feeling much more positive then I thought would be possible just wanted to let u know how much I this has helped me cope. I’m very very sorry to hear about your nonna , I know this doesn’t help but hoping that the love I’m sending u will x

  • What a beautiful tribute to an obviously well loved grandmother. Sorry for your family’s loss. You must remember to cherish those special things she taught you. X

  • What a lovely tribute to your Nonna, Giovanna. It’s never easy to lose a loved one and is so difficult to comprehend. Just wanted to thank you for sharing your memories of your nonna with your readers and for celebrating her life in such a public way- she sounds like she was such a warm, loving and fun woman. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. With love, Rachel

  • Gi what wonderful memories, treasure and adore them. This brought back memories of my Nan! No one can ever take them away from you. God bless x

  • Thank you for this post. My nonna passed away just under 2 years ago the same month my first child was born. It was lovely to hear of your stories and memories most of mine are quite similar. what a beautiful woman she was, I’m sure they are both enjoying a yummy plate of pasta, glass of wine and smiling down on us xxx

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