Why Nina Barbaglia stays on The Hill
Twenty-six-year-old Nina Barbaglia sits in sawdust in her home on Sublette Avenue. She positions herself near a window that faces south, the direction of her father Joe Barbaglia’s house.
“He’s the most generous person I know,” she says. “It doesn’t get better than him.” So this is where she sits when she needs to think. The teacher bought the duplex recently. She’s renovating the south side for herself and renting the other.
Barbaglia remembers walking home from St. Ambrose School with a pack of 12 friends. “We had a route where we’d drop everybody off – me and Regina Savio were always the last ones. And now, she bought a house right around the corner from mine.”
At a time in her life when a lot of her friends are moving around the country, choosing school districts and moving to the suburbs, she’s staying put – at least for now.
“I can talk about school districts being the most important thing when I have kids someday, but is it the most important? Or is it being close to family and close to everything, you know? That’s a hard decision.
“In the suburbs, you get the big house and the good school, but you don’t get the meaning of the house you’re living in. You don’t know who’s living next door to you. Who lived there before? There’s so much history around here. It’s good to know that other people had family and happy memories in this house, and I can personally talk to those people. To know that somebody started their family here or somebody’s life ended here gives a whole meaning to the house.”
Here on The Hill, people stay. “I lived in my dad’s house my whole life. My dad moved straight from his parents’ house into that house. So thinking of moving was terrifying. I couldn’t even think about moving away to college because my grandma was older, and I didn’t want to miss a single minute.”
Her grandmother did pass away last year, and she carries a picture of her in her purse. “Sometimes I feel a lot like her. Like an old Italian lady trapped in a young body.”
Carmen Troesser is a longtime contributing photographer and writer for Sauce Magazine.
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