Keeping Traditions While Living Abroad: A Roman Thanksgiving

As a degree-seeking sophomore at John Cabot University, I have not been home to celebrate Thanksgiving for the past two years. For most other holidays this doesn’t bother me, especially because in Italy holidays are always celebrated with amazing food and good conversation. Thanksgiving is different, though, because it is purely an American tradition celebrated best with family and with food that can be difficult to find outside of the U.S.

Last year on Thanksgiving some friends hosted a dinner at their Viale Trastevere apartment. It was a potluck and the food was plentiful, but we were missing a lot of the traditional dishes.


This year, my roommate and I took matters into our own hands (she is Italian but knows how good the holiday can be when done right)! Thursday night we hosted twenty guests in our cozy little apartment in Trastevere. Everyone brought a dish to share and although there were a few Italian dishes thrown in there (Marta made lasagna and the delicious Italian sweet bread Pandoro was served for dessert) we managed to capture a bit of the Thanksgiving tradition that I’ve missed so much.

IMG_3552Let me also say that finding a Thanksgiving turkey is not an easy feat in Rome! All of the thanks go to my roommate and two friends who volunteered for the job! My roommate ordered a 5-kilo turkey (about 11lbs) a few days before, but when she went to go pick it up the manager brought out not a 5-kilo turkey but a 15-KILO TURKEY! Can you imagine how long it would take to cook a 33LB turkey!? Thankfully the manager was able to find a smaller one from a different store, and even though the cooking started late and the turkey didn’t show up until 10pm it was one of the most delicious Thanksgiving turkey’s I have ever tasted! Brave ragazze!


I am so thankful that all of my friends at JCU who come from all over the world were happy to join me in celebrating such a special American holiday together. I am also thankful for being reminded of how much I love living in Rome, my home away from home.



Gillian McMurray
Communications Major
JCU Class of 2016
Evanston, Illinois

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