Through His Words: Day Seven

4 Feb

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect

Day Seven:

Friday, July 22, 1938  
On board ship        
Chapter 7

Today has been a little lazy, took a shower, getting warmer as we follow the coast of Africa. We will soon pass the coast of the southern tip of the Island of Sardinia and then tomorrow the paradise of Joe Montenegro, Napoli.

Joe Montenegro, as you might remember, was Alex’s dear friend who was to have been with him on this trip, but Joe became ill and was unable to travel. The Montenegro family still had a home in Naples.

I am going to his [Joe’s family’s] apartment in Naples and will leave one of my bags there which I will pick up later.

At the age of 43, Alex was about to step foot in the country where he was born and for the first time since his parents took him to America when he was just five years old.

Have done pretty well with my laundry, soiled only 3 shirts, a few handkerchiefs, and a couple of sox. Will leave them in Naples to have them cleaned. We stop at Naples for about 5 hours and then proceed to Cannes, France, where I get off. Will stay at Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo for 1.5 days, then go to Marseilles and Paris.

De Rosa has helped me with my itinerary and I am going to follow it as close as I can. 


Alex’s itinerary, July 24-August 23, 1938

Alex then gives Maude directions to write him via the American Express Co. at Venice, and lets her know he will inquire for mail at each office along the way. He realizes, however, that her letters may not catch up to him until he reaches Firenze. He is so anxious for word from her about the family.

After that, you can address me at the Flora Hotel in Roma where I expect to stay according to the itinerary. After you receive this, please write often as I want to hear all about you, the three rascals, Ruth and Pa, and any scandal back home.

Hotel Flora peaked my interest. Is it still there? Can I go visit it?


Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora
Via Vittorio Veneto 191

The answer is YES! Coincidently, as Alex reaches Italy tomorrow, so too will I, (God willing, as Nana would say), as I am going to visit Benita in Rome. (Just keeping up the family tradition as my parents visited me when I studied in Rome. Unfortunately, Len can’t join us.) Alex’s trip took seven days at sea. 75 years later, mine will be an overnight flight.

According to its website, here’s some history about the Grand Hotel Flora:

While conserving the atmosphere of the Belle Epoque, the hotel today is a top-class structure with services on a par with international luxury hotels. Construction started on the Flora Hotel in 1905 and its harmonious Art Nouveau style was the work of the architect Andrea Busiri Vici…

Work on the hotel was completed in 1907 and it quickly became a refined residence which attracted an international clientele. In 1930, Paul Valery, in a letter to a friend written from the Flora Hotel said, “it has a special atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else,” and Ada Negri writing to the Countess Anna Maria di Broglio described the hotel as her “Roman home”.

In more recent times, but still the last century, the Grand Hotel Flora became a home away from home for celebrities in the Sixties, the years of Rome’s “Dolce Vita.” It was here, in the Villa Borghese, in the Casina Valadier and in Rome’s famous cafes that the rich and famous met. In the concierge’s guest book you can see the names of Prince Maximilian of Bavaria, Richard Nixon, Paul Getty, Christian Barnard, Joan Crawford, Cassius Clay and Federico Fellini.

I wonder if the guest book goes all the way back to 1938? I’ll have to check it out!

PS. Have just landed and went to Joe Montenegro apt.  Ferme met me and we are having lunch together at the Vesuvio Hotel.

You guessed it, another beauty, this one overlooking the sea.

Might this have been their view at lunch?

It’s hard to imagine just how excited Alex was as he stepped off the ship. Wow.

Regards, Al

To be continued.


4 Responses to “Through His Words: Day Seven”

  1. Debra Kolkka February 4, 2014 at 4:50 PM #

    How exciting for you to see the things your grandfather did. I did this a few years ago in Finland and just loved it. I often walk in Helsinki and wonder if my grandfather saw some of the things I see now.


  2. len February 4, 2014 at 6:30 PM #

    I now have two incredible blogs to follow! Alex’s journey is like it’s happening now. Enjoy Rome and the Flora. Ti amo con tutto il cuore! (hope I have this right) xoxo


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