Hello everyone, we're looking for

03/08/2019 - 05:21

Hello everyone, we're looking for people to interview for our series on the magazine about people who have traveled to Italy in search of their origins, visiting their ancestral towns and reconnecting with their Italian relatives. If you'd like to be considered for the series, please send a *brief* summary of your story to silvia@italymagazine.com. If we think the story fits the series, we'll then contact you with more detailed interview questions. Many thanks! 

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I am an architect and I was contacted by an American couple who were looking for their deceased grandfather's house on Lake Como. If you would like I can ask them if they are interested in being contacted by you.
I helped them to find the house and explained how to get there. When they came over I was on holiday so I never met them , but I know they found the house and found the experience very emotional. They were a bit troubled as 1. They had been led on a wild goose chase by some dodgy lawyer, which must have agitated things, and 2. they thought that they were entitled to ownership or part ownership of said house, and could not understand why another family owned it.
Until I explained that if – as they had said, the Grandfather returned to Italy and re-married – then on his death the house would automatically go to the wife and his children, but if the children were in the USA and did not get in touch, then when the wife sold it on to someone else – the US children would have lost their share in it. They said that it rang bells of the new Italian wife of the grandfather trying to contact the US family asking them to confirm their right to something or other, but they never did and so that was the reasin why the family were no longer entitled to any of the house.
The house was town house in the centro storico of a practically abandoned hill village on the north west shore of lake Como. It had no private parking and no lake view, so actually it would have been worth very little…..but the sentimental value to them was obviously enormous.

My parents emigrated from Trieste to America in 1956 with two young daughters, one aged 3 1/2 and the other only 40 days old, hoping for a better life for their young family.  I was born in NY four years later and over the years, we went "home" numerous times.  During these trips, most of the time was spent visiting with family, catching up. I had heard many stories about the lives my parents led prior to coming to America but I wanted to see for myself so five years ago, I went "home" to Trieste.  With the help of my cugina Triestina, I was able to explore the city, mostly on foot, seeing where my parents were married, the buildings where my parents had their first apartment and where my dad had his first tailor shop, etc.  I would have loved to have gone inside but did not have the nerve to knock on the doors.  It was a once-in-a-life time trip and although my parents were elderly and unable to travel with me, I took over 1,000 photographs so they wouldn't miss a thing. Although I was the only daughter born in America, I am more traditional than my sisters and loved listening to all the stories and history of my parents and their heritage.

My father was born in Italy and immigrated to USA from Villa latina in the Comino Valley when he was a young adult after serving in the Italian army. (My mom was born here but her parents came from Filicudi, one of the Aeolian Islands.) After my dad died a couple of years ago, I traveled to Villa Latina with some apprehension. My dad had told me there was nothing there as it was a poor town. He was wrong. It was the best experience of my life. To begin, my cousins there could not have been more welcoming and generous. They arranged for my stay at a wonderful agriturismo where the rooster woke me each morning. The showed me many incredible cutural sights: Monte Cassino, Castello Alvito, a tiny musuem for women artists, another small museum for zampongna. I learned from an ancient distant relative the story of the sad moment my dad decided to leave Italy. I saw his abandoned childhood home which moved me to tears. I saw a street sign Via Pacitti. I never felt closer to my dad or to my ancestral heritage than the time I spent in the Comino Valley. That week was the ultimate experience of my life. 

Thank you for this opportunity to tell our stories and for your bellisima magazine!I have been to Italy 12 times, starting when I was 16, with my parents and sister. On that trip, we did a tour and met my mother's first cousin,Giovanni and his family, who lived in Rome. I fell madly in love with Italy and we returned two years later, this time adding a trip with Giovanni to his mother's house (she was my grandfather's sister), where my grandfather grew up. We were a bit surprised at the low level of socio economic status and i=t helped understand why my grandfather had come to America when he was 12 to find a better life.Visiting the cemetery where my great grand-parents and other relatives wereburied had a profound impact on me, and I keep returning to find more connections to our family roots.In 2005, when my mother had the first stages of Alzheimer's disease, myhusband and I met my parents in Italy to do the "roots" tour. We visited the island of Ischia, where her mother had been born, but the family had left in 1900, so there were no relatives to meet. Walking the streets and visiting the church whose patron saint my grandmother was named after, again, made my roots stronger.We also went to the towns where my paternal side was from, and this is my most dramatic story. After asking (in broken Italian) where to locate the grave of my great-grandparents, in Avelino, the groundskeeper took us to a musoleum where they were buried. After verifying that it must be the right family, they opened the "drawer" and there was a plastic body bag containing the remains of three people - my father's grandmother and grandfather and step-grandmother, who my great-grandfather married after my great-grandmother had died and left him with five young children.So, after 81 years, my father got to finally "meet" his grandparents.We have no one left in Italy, now. However, it has always been my dream to go there and teach. The closest I have gotten to that dream so far is to bring two study abroad groups of University students to Italy (2005 and 2015)..I hope to see this dream come true soon.Grazie for letting me tell this story! I have photos from these trips, as well. Valdosta, GA USA