Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

From This Day: a marriage of cultures

He is a fourth-generation Tampa native whose family has a long history dating to Italy, but Anthony Scaglione flipped for the cultural attributes of Mexico during a study abroad program in Puebla in 2005.

Diana Hernandez-Ontiveros grew up in Mexico and moved to Tampa in 1999 to be part of an English immersion program, choosing the area because her grandparents had retired to Sun City, and it was comforting to have family close by.

One evening in 2010, a friend talked her into joining a group at Cheap, a tapas restaurant on S Howard Avenue. Tony was there, too, and someone else in the group told Diana that Tony was just back from visiting Mexico and Argentina and had considerable mastery of Spanish.

"He didn't look Latin," she says today, "and I didn't think he would speak fluent Spanish."

He did, in fact, and even was knowledgeable about pronunciations unique to each of the two nations.

"He was telling me the history of Mexico," she says. "He likes my culture."

There was much more to talk about. The two are soccer enthusiasts, and both were interested in the FIFA World Cup that summer.

Tony kept inviting her to go to the movies, and she kept telling him she was busy. So busy. There was school and her studies.

Diana, 30, soon will finish her doctorate in medical sciences with a concentration in neuroscience at the University of South Florida, where she earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's in molecular medicine.

And she was training for a 5K race at the time.

"I can run," he told her. Their first date was at Tampa's Al Lopez Park.

"He was persistent," Diana says.

Tony, a 29-year-old communications and Hispanic marketing graduate of Florida State University, is a financial adviser for UBS and serves on the boards of directors of the Ybor City Rotary Club and the Ybor City Museum Society.

"He is very charming," Diana says, "very approachable, a little more extroverted than I am. It's kind of like a balance. I'm more serious, and he's a little more outgoing. Everywhere we go in Tampa, people know him."

After celebrating New Year's Eve at Channelside with friends, on Jan. 1, 2012, they went to a big family gathering at the home of his grandfather Joe Russo. Tony kept shooing people back into the house and finally turned to Diana, in the back yard.

Will you spend the rest of your life with me? he asked. Will you marry me?

The ceremony on March 1 was at downtown Tampa's historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and the couple spent a few days afterward at the Sheraton Sand Key on Clearwater Beach. Because she has such a large family in Mexico, they will travel to Puerta Vallarta to have a marriage blessing ceremony there, on July 4.

And later in the year will come the extended honeymoon, in Italy or perhaps Costa Rica. There are so many cultures to explore.

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