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  • Send Your Love to Italy for the Holidays
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    NOVEMBER 14, 2004 - The holiday season is right around the corner, which means it's the perfect time to show your gratitude and affection to loved ones near and far. Thanks to modern technology keeping in touch with your relatives and friends in Italy is easier than ever. Here are some easy - and affordable - ways to send your love during the happiest time of the year:

    Write right. E-mail is probably the cheapest and best way to keep in touch with those who also have a computer. Like in the old days, you can write lengthy letters (and take the time to translate them if necessary) without having to worry about per-minute charges as you do with phone calls. Now, however, it will take mere seconds - instead of weeks - for your relatives to receive your correspondence. Exchanging photos, videos, and music or audio files is possible via e-mail. When I want to get creative, I might even throw some family photos into a Word document and create a newsletter for the relatives in Italy. You can attach the Word doc to an e-mail and they'll be able to open it on their computers. God bless Microsoft's monopoly on the universe! If you want to spiff things up, you can always send a virtual greeting card. My favorite site for free e-cards is Cartoline Gratuite. It offers a wide variety of cards for a range of holidays - from name days to anniversaries to the days that your favorite soccer team is playing. You'll find appropriate cards for everyone from your long-distance lover to nonna. The cartoline on this particular site feature adorable cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, caricatures of famous Italians including the cast of Grande Fratello and religious icons.

    Be a chatterbox! If you're looking for more give and take than an e-mail can provide, you should try an instant messenger service. MSN Messenger is the best one for communicating with people in other countries. Downloading basic MSN is absolutely free all over the globe. (But you might have to sign up for a free Hotmail account if your e-mail service is not affiliated with MSN.) When you send an e-mail to invite friends and relatives to chat with you in real time, you can actually ask them in their native tongue just by changing the language setting on MSN. Once all of your buddies are signed on to this instant messenger service, you can “talk” for hours without paying a cent. In addition to the adorable emoticons (smiley faces, kissing lips and little devils), music and photo files are easily shared via MSN messenger.

    Send a sweet SMS. Cell phone junkies have learned to share romantic messages and quick hellos via text messaging, which is far cheaper than making an actual phone call. Thanks to my AT&T Wireless plan, I pay about $.05 for every SMS or text message that I send to my pal Antonio in Ischia, Italy. I could also change my plan so that I pay $5 to send 50 messages per month. Just about every cell phone provider offers an international text message or SMS plan. In no time, your Italian sweetie will be sending you flirty little messages that will make your day just a little brighter.

    Talk the old-fashioned way. Anyone who refuses to give up on the classic approach (read: plain ol' phone call) can pick up pre-paid phone cards and mail them via snail mail to their loved ones in Italy. It's easy. It's affordable. And it guarantees a phone call - no waiting around for that precious ring!

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