''I feel like I gave birth to Marco with the entire country, not just with his father. So Italy and I had this love affair and together we had this beautiful child.''
Amanda spent twenty years of her life living in paradise – a place called the Amalfi Coast. She confesses, “it was the most amazing time of my life. I have no regrets, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
She was 26 years old, working hard building her career in fashion, first as a editor of a trendy young branch of Vogue called Lei Magazine in Milan, and then later, as Amanda describes it, “a babysitter” for Enrico Coveri’s 48 fashion ranges in Florence.
“Working for Enrico was rewarding but so challenging at the same time. I was convinced that at first he didn’t like me. There was a moment when we were all sitting around the boardroom and Enrico revealed the colour for his next range – a chartreuse green. Do you like it was the question? Everyone gushed, ‘Oh Enrico we love it you are brilliant' and I piped up, as I tend to do, and said personally I don’t. Silence. He was glaring at me and I know he was thinking you crazy Australian you know nothing! However, once we started working and he saw the hours I was putting in, everything changed. We would go to Paris and do those midnight collections where you would have to sit up taping shoes until 3am, sleep for four hours and then get up and do it all over again. It was all about who is the strongest. Then he ended up loving me.”
In the second year of working for Enrico, Amanda migrated south for a summer holiday, as all good Italians do, and it was then that she met Sergio. She rang her mum and said, “You know that guy I met in Positano?”
A nervous “yes...” came down the line from the other side of the world.
“Well he is so beautiful, I am going to go and live with him.”
As Amanda remembers her mum Maggie was concerned: “Amanda you are nuts, you’ve got this job and a career in fashion. You go to Paris and New York and you’re travelling and you’re making money and you’re getting a name and blah blah blah...”
All Amanda could say was, “Mum, I am out of here!”
“When this huge beautiful mountainous man appeared in front of me and said, ‘Why don’t you come and live with me?’, it really was a no brainer. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I be taping shoes in a back alley in Paris with all the crazy neurotic personalties when I could live in a garage, with a water bed and this guy.”
So Amanda went back to Florence and got her tiny 126 Fiat and piled up everything she owned.
“When I got into that car and headed south, it was literally as if time stopped.”
It wasn’t until she left at 46 that she realised she had been living in a bubble. Even though every year she would come back to Australia for Christmas with Sergio and her son Marco, and stay a few weeks, she was never really involved in living and functioning in society outside her beloved Amalfi Coast.
She has such beautiful memories of her time there, and is no stranger, visiting her friends at least once a year.
When I ask Amanda the question ‘what is your affair with Italy?’, she doesn’t hesitate to respond “It’s my gorgeous son Marco.”
“I feel like I gave birth to Marco with the entire country, not just with his father. So Italy and I had this love affair and together we had this beautiful child.”
I ask Amanda about the dashing young man of 20, reluctantly taking part in this photoshoot, embarrassed by his mum’s fussing.
“Marco is so Italian sometimes. He speaks Neapolitan and he’s got all the gestures and the characteristics. Even his way of organising himself is very Italian, but then when he is in Australia he is very Australian. He goes to the pub with his mates and does all the things the Aussie boys do. He goes out on his surfboard whenever he can. When he is in Australia he is very Aussie, when he is in Italy he is so very Italian. And he’s gorgeous, he’s my little bear.”
Amanda claims that she is not like a true Italian Mum. She definitely doesn’t dote over her little prince like Italian mothers do with their sons. As I pack up my things to leave, Amanda jumps into top gear to prepare dinner for Marco before he goes off to his poker night with the boys (as she can’t bear the thought of him going hungry), I think to myself, Amanda Tabberer you’re far more Italian than you realise. Che bella donna!