Thursday, August 23, 2007

Story of Our Family Trip to Italy

Part One of a Series

Back in September 2005, Eddie, Emily, Thomas, my parents and I all took a month-long trip together to Italy. While we were there, I kept notes of what we did and where we went, and once we were back, I wrote down a long email to family, the friends who’d been taking care of our chickens, and to my “NovemberMoms” (they are my friends from an email list that started as a group of women all pregnant and due with their child in November 1996—we’re still going strong after more than 10 years!). Fortunately I was able to find that message in the list’s archives, and now I’d like to create a short series of posts about the trip, using that message, and adding photos and links and other bits of Italian trivia, to help me remember and keep it for posterity, and just for fun.

By way of introduction--
We have strong family ties to Italy. My mother was born in Cassino, and her sisters still live there, along with my cousins. She has cousins there as well, scattered around Italy. And my mother’s family had strong ties to the US, even before my mother married my American father. Her parents and grandparents had a history of coming to America for work, and then going back to Italy (by boat, of course), and again and again, in the early 1900’s.

My Italian grandmother (Nonna Teresa) was born in Brooklyn, and her parents moved back to Italy when she was very young, then back to NY and back to Italy. I was able to find the passenger list with my grandmother’s name on it (Teresa Colella) from Ellis Island, when she was four years old, arriving in NY with her parents in 1909. [You have to sign in to view records, but you'll be able to see the passenger record, the original ship manifest, and a picture of the ship they took, the Neckar.]

After she got married, she and my grandfather (Nonno Alberto) moved to Brooklyn with their oldest daughter (my aunt Zia Wanda). They had another daughter (Zia Elisa), born in Brooklyn, and later moved back to Italy. My mother was born in Italy, and they never moved back to the US again. But my grandmother was the oldest of 10 surviving children, and many of her siblings moved to the US and stayed here, and her parents moved back once again and later died in Brooklyn. [Funny coincidence, my father’s mother was also born in Brooklyn, and so was I.]

While I was growing up, we made several trips to Italy to visit the family, about every 2-3 years. We spent a whole summer there when I was 15, but usually our trips were at Christmas-time. After finishing college, I lived there for 6 months, as well. So I really wanted to be able to share this part of my heritage (and my passion) with my husband and children. They just didn't get it till we went there, and they saw it, too.

We started planning about a year in advance, saving up money for the tickets and other things we’d need while there. Eddie listened to some Berlitz Italian CDs, and Emily tried the Italian Rosetta Stone program, but at the age she was then (about 8) she wasn’t ready or motivated enough to really study it.

My cousins found us an apartment to rent for the month—much cheaper than a week at the beach in Nags Head!—and this was at the beach, too. We’d be able to buy all our groceries and cook at home, and have space to spread out a bit—much better than a hotel would have been. We were ready!

Part two tomorrow.

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JohnPark said...

This is great, Silvia, can't wait for the next part.