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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Miller

Growing up a world citizen: Henry Pasetto’s perspective on Treviso, the U.S., and Rome

By Leigh Miller - Columnist

Recently, I sat down and chatted with JFRC student Henry Pasetto about everything from the U.S., Italy, and even his love of Chipotle and his favorite soccer team. Henry went to school in both the U.S and Italy, so he’s got a unique perspective. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did!

Also - who else has a Chipotle craving???

Hi Henry! Ok, starting off - what was it like growing up in both Italy (Treviso) and Chicago/Tinley Park?

I would say the biggest differences between the two were the way I was taught, especially here in Italy, in Treviso, I felt that the teachers were a lot more strict, and put an emphasis on more practical skills like cursive writing, on penmanship, things that didn’t focus on creativity. When I went to the U.S. there was a lot more of an opportunity to express myself through classes such as music, art, applied technology - things we just didn’t have access to in Treviso.

Was it hard, culturally, to go back and forth?

At first it was, but I started school in the U.S. in 4th grade, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as an adjustment, as I was fairly young and able to adapt quickly. Even in Italy I had the chance to take English classes at my school.

What would you say was your biggest shock when you returned several years later to go to school again? What was your biggest surprise?

How much Italy had changed, I guess, in the decade I was gone. They’ve made strides, great strides to being more focused on those things we already had in the U.S., like those classes I already mentioned, like music, art, applied technology... But the culture of teaching had also changed. Teachers weren’t as strict, they were more forgiving compared to what I was used to when I was a kid.

So tell me a bit about Treviso and Venice.

They are a unique part of Italy in my opinion, just because they are shoved up into the corner of Italy, especially with Venice being one of the major trade ports of Italy since the Renaissance really, if not before then. Treviso, where I’ve actually spent the larger part of my time, is very unique because it's located near a major tourist city but it’s far enough away to have a small city feel. I think it’s around 80,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. So it's a very unique medieval city, very quiet, but also has some influence from Venice.

What’s your favorite attraction or favorite thing to do there?

Treviso or Venice?

Both, actually.

Both... okay! Venice, that’s hard; I like the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with De Amicis (my primary school in Treviso). I got to see how glass was made, to sit on Attila the Hun’s throne, all these very cool things. So, that’s probably my favorite thing(s) in Venice.

In Treviso, besides seeing my family of course, they’ve got some really cool art inside the Duomo in Treviso that I think is very unique. We have a lot in Rome that is unique as well, but the Duomo, it's just special.

And we also have this really cool Mosaic, I don’t know how many hundreds of years old it is... it's like something you would usually see preserved in a museum in a major city. But it’s in the open air in Treviso, and it’s just very cool.

And what would you say is the biggest difference from Venice, or Veneto in general, to Rome?

The people! The people in Rome are very expressive, in my opinion, compared to what I was used to in the Veneto region. They are always very kind, which is always great, but yes, they are... expressive is probably the best word. Other than that, I would say that Rome has more of a Roman influence, obviously because of the Roman ruins we have here, whereas Treviso and the Veneto region has more Renaissance influence, or at least you can see the Renaissance influence more clearly in Veneto than Rome.

So... any favorite foods?


In Italy. I already know abut your love of Chipotle, so let's start with Veneto.

Well, Risotto di radicchio rosso di Treviso, of course, and in Rome, cacio e pepe is really good.

Yes, I think those might be my favorites from each region as well.

Well, the radicchio in Treviso is very well known. I think they may have even had a Jeopardy question about it!

I heard about that! I even like the ravioli di radicchio, it’s so good!

Anything with radicchio is pretty good.

Even the ragu sauce, they have a vegetarian ragu sauce, using radicchio instead of meat. They just have it diced in a certain way so that the radicchio has the texture of meat. You can find it in stores actually, even the canned version is not too bad.

I'll have to check that out! But probably not canned, my grandmother might get upset if she saw me trying that way.

(laughing) Agreed, she might kill you for that; and she can make it way better anyway.

Exactly, oh boy.

And what do you miss the most from the U.S. when you’re here?

Chipotle! As bad as it sounds, I really do like Latino food in the U.S., just because we have such a strong influence over there. I’m sure you can find it here in Italy, but it’s just not the same.

What's the first thing you want to do when you go back to Chicago - besides eat Chipotle?

Hmm, very good question. Probably just walk around downtown Chicago because I really miss the city. Rome is a major city, just not the same as Chicago. Chicago, if you think about it, is built vertically instead of horizontally, so it has that very modern city feel, as opposed to Rome, which has still maintained its antiquity tradition to some extent. Very cool, but it makes me miss Chicago.

In the future, can you see yourself working or living in Italy? Where would you want to work or live if you did?

I can see myself working in Italy for at least half the year. I would probably live in a major northern city like Milan, just because that’s where I feel most comfortable. I would like to work in environmental sustainability or alternative proteins, those are my fields of choice. It would be interesting to take that to Italy and see what they have here as well.

Awesome. Favorite soccer team? (I laugh, because I already know his favorite team).

A.C. Milan of course!

And least favorite soccer team? Dare we share that before final grades come out?

(laughing) Ooooh... no, no, let’s not do that, I’m going to withhold that for now!

Interview conducted by Leigh Miller featuring Henry Pasetto

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