"It was culture shock [when I came to Worcester]. Where I was brought up…we had everything within walking distance. Rome is made up of all neighborhoods. Every neighborhood has the people who live there and the merchants and the market. The open-air market. And everybody knew everybody. Which was good because there wasn’t any animosity. People just helped each other."
Egle Novia was born in Rome, Italy in 1930 and lived there until she married an Italian-American and relocated to his hometown of Worcester. In this interview, she discusses her childhood experiences in Rome during World War II, sharing memories of food rations, air raids, and the German occupation and emphasizing the financial and emotional struggles her family endured after the death of her father during this period. Egle goes on to discuss the transition and cultural shock she underwent after moving to Worcester. She talks about the differences between everyday life, community, and transportation between her homes, as well as her experiences learning a new language. Egle reflects upon the many changes that have occurred in Worcester over time, particularly the decline of the downtown shopping area and movie theatres. Egle also discusses the role of the Catholic Church in her life, both as a source of spiritual and material support in Rome during the war as well as a foundation for community and family life through the fellowship of Italian-Americans in Worcester.