Monday, August 27, 2007

SOFTI Part Five in Cassino

Part Five of a Series

We left early on Monday morning with my mom to get a bus to Formia, to take another bus to Cassino. My cousins picked us up at the train/bus station and drove us to my aunts' apartment building. It was weird being back after almost 14 yrs. The city didn't look much different to me, but my aunts have gotten much older--79 and 75!

The bus we rode, about an hour's ride.

In the picture are my aunts, Zia Wanda and Zia Elisa, my cousin Franco, my mother, and my cousin Sergio.

We settled in and had a wonderful lunch (really a dinner). In the afternoon we went to a new museum that focused on the history of Cassino, and especially on the destruction done to it during WWII. The whole city was destroyed, as in completely reduced to rubble, as well as the monastery on the mountain top. It was a very emotional visit for my mother, who was about 3 at the time. Her sisters were much older and vividly recall the war. (My cousins said they still talk about that time as if it were yesterday.) The family had evacuated to a mountainside village opposite the monastery during the war, so fortunately they were all able to survive. Here's a website of Montecassino, and another with pictures and talk about the battle.

In the evening my three cousins (Franco, Fabio and Sergio) and two of the wives (Marina and Marisa) took Eddie and me out to a bar for drinks and talking. Ok, Eddie mostly listened, I mostly talked. :) I even brought my dictionary, and got to use it a couple times. LOL We had a really great time, and got back late.

The next day we went to visit Montecassino. The kids really enjoyed it--very ornate inside, lots of marble of different colors making beautiful mosaics, all reproductions of what was there before the bombing, although some small pieces were original.

This picture was taken from my aunt's apartment window.

In the central courtyard of the monastery.

We had a pizza party that night with all 3 cousins and their wives, and my aunts. One pizza per person! The guys took their pizzas to the large living room.
Eddie has his back to the camera. Franco is on the left, Fabio in the middle and Sergio on the right. Behind him in green is his step-son.

The women stayed in the smaller dining room. In the very left is Zia Wanda, then my mother, Marisa (Fabio's wife), Marina's mother, Marina (Franco's wife), hidden is Cinzia (pronounced Chintzia, Sergio's wife), and with her back to the camera is Zia Elisa.

You can see Marina, Cinzia and Zia Elisa better here. Not to mention the pizzas!

My cousin Franco's wife, Marina, brought her mother, also, and she had made a delicious dessert/pastry called baba, which is like an elongated muffin-shaped sponge cake soaked in sugar and rum. Delicious! Here's an interesting history of the pastry.
These are the baba in the bowl and on the plate.

I asked Marisa (Fabio's wife) and Cinzia (Sergio's wife) to teach me how to play Scopa, an Italian card game. Here's an article on the playing the game in case you're even mildly interested. :) Wednesday, my mother wanted to see the mausoleum where her parents are buried. (Cemeteries don’t generally exist like here because there’s not enough space.)

This is her mother's spot.

And her father's.

She also visited the crypt where her father's brother and some other relatives are buried. A genealogist would have a field day in a place like that!

We did a bit of shopping later on, and also visited Franco and Marina's apartment to see their wedding video.

The kids had time to play a little soccer in the apartment building's enclosed yard and driveway.
On Thursday the 15th, Fabio and Sergio drove us all back to Gaeta and stayed for pizza, then we went to the beach for a while. That's the life!

The next day was pretty relaxed, and we even found the soccer stadium and watched some teams practicing. I also found out that the stadium's gym complex is where the taekwondo school is and got to watch a class for a while.

Part six tomorrow!

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