Archive | June, 2014

Almost there!

29 Jun

For those following Alex’s journey, we hope to get to Pietrabbondante tomorrow. Limited wifi for a few days, Pescara beachbut will respond to your comments and give you an update as soon as possible! Hoping at last to find the house where my grandfather was born in 1895! Aunt Marion, this is especially for you!!




Making Cheese with Lapo

28 Jun

One day pasta, the next day cheese. What could be better than learning from two experts? My latest lesson: pecorino and ricotta.

Lapo began by explaining the process. The milk is fresh from their sheep and needs to be heated carefully.

There is a special utensil used to stir the milk and cause the cheese bulk to form.

An expert like Lapo doesn’t need a thermometer to know when it’s ready – instead, it’s all done by touch. In the meantime, while the milk is heating, he explains how they coat cheese before storing it. He demonstrates two methods – one using ash from the previous night’s grilling with added olive oil and the second from a tomato like paste made from his garden.


The rounds are then stacked on their sides to allow air to circulate between them and are separated with walnut leaves, which impart a slight flavor.

He shows us some storage barrels, one with hay and one with the dried walnut leaves. The first is from 1798. If you look closely at the second, you can see the rounds of cheese in them.

Lapo knows the milk has reached the proper temperature when the tool stands upright unsupported.

Then the twirling action begins… fast and precise…

until the liquid separates from the cheese.

We sample the cheese at this point and it is somewhat rubbery, a bit sweet, and without much taste.

Thus far, Lapo is doing all the work, but now it is our turn to get involved. We are each given a portion of cheese and per instructions, are to hold and pinch the cheese carefully, slowly eliminating water from the cheese. Thanks, Carrol, for the great photos that follow.

This is actually harder than it sounds, as it requires much patience and pressure from only fingers. When my fingers start to hurt, I use my palms, but alas, the master catches me in the act, so back to finger pinching for me.

When Lapo is satisfied we have pushed out sufficient water, we empty our bowls for the next step.

Time to turn the cheese over…

Now we push, not pinch, with outstretched fingers.

Lapo is not only watching us, but touching our hands to ensure they are warm from our body heat. Cold hands are not good for making cheese, and he announces that our hands passed…we are all about the same proper temperature.

After several rounds of pressing, my cheese begins to have a nice fragrance, so I give my friend Larry a whiff.

This is the fruit of our efforts!

In keeping with the tradition of using everything, Lapo takes the milky water we have pushed from our cheese and begins making ricotta. The liquid is carefully poured through a strainer to remove any clumps which would burn in the reheating.

And then it is recooked, hence ricotta, until it reaches the proper consistency.

As a reward for our hard work, Paola has prepared a lovely lunch on the veranda.

First, samples of young and aged pecorino with toasted bread, small sausage bites with olives, and the class is very happy!

Then Paola treats us to Cace e Pepe, a simple pasta made with pecorino, parmegiano, and pepper.

Finally, we are treated with the ricotta made in class, topped with fig jam. Delicious.

Quite full, and content with our work, I get the class to pose for a photo reminder of the great day!

Our pecorino won’t be ready for about 10 weeks, but in the meantime, we each have a certificate to remind us of what we learned. Here’s a sample of Lapo’s Lessons:

1. Nothing can replace passion and dedication when it comes to quality, and patience is paramount.

2. Everything from the garden is better.

3. Cheese is like your body; if your body is too cold or hot, the cheese is too cold or hot, so move it.

4. Share what you make with others.

Finally, before leaving, I had to snap a picture of the setting where I not only learned to make cheese but also experienced the love and passion of carrying on traditions from generation to generation.

Grazie Lapo e Paola!




Making Pasta with Paola

27 Jun

Last night, we were at Casale della Torre again for dinner with our friends Larry and Carrol. As usual, it was such a treat and always a learning experience with Lapo and Paola in the kitchen.

We arrived to find Paola making fresh pasta.

Naturally, I had to try this myself.

After a few tips, they said I passed. It was just to get me out of their way, I think.


Next up, Paola’s fried veggies including zucchini flowers, zucchini, and onions, freshly picked from their garden.


The men moved outside to enjoy the view and the Prosecco, and wait patiently for the appetizers to arrive. They were also in charge of grilling the sausage.

Meanwhile, Paola opened the treasure chest from the freezer…porcini mushrooms Lapo had found last fall, and had saved for Carrol and Larry’s arrival dinner. Such a treat for all of us.

Lapo's Porcini Find! -

Lapo’s Porcini Find!

Frozen porcini sections –

After appertivo on the veranda, we moved inside for dinner. Gustavo, a guest of Larry and Carrol’s, and the evening’s assistant chef, had requested Tripe. Yikes! But the men were all happy and said it was delicious. The ladies just looked on with eyebrows raised as the men enjoyed several servings.

Gustavo was very grateful!

Next was two kinds of pasta – one with ragu of chianna beef, a Tuscan speciality, and the second with mushrooms. These were followed by a salad from the garden and the grilled sausage. Delicious.


Finally, dessert – peaches marinated in Lapo’s red vino, vanilla gelato with mint sprig, and my hostess gift apple torta.

We quickly learned no evening is complete without a taste of Lapo’s homemade liquors.

At the end of a very relaxing and fun evening, Lapo decided that Gustavo reminded him of Popeye. And why not – here is a man who, along with his brother, rode his bike from Mexico City to Toronto back in the 50s! Lacking a pipe, Lapo gave Gustavo a wooden spoon and actually lit it.

Before we left, Paola and Lapo invited us to make cheese with them the next day. Fresh pasta Thursday, cheese on Friday. My cup runneth over!



A Typical Thursday – Camucia Market and Tuscher Caffe

26 Jun

If it’s Thursday in Cortona, it’s market day in Camucia, the town at the bottom of the hill. As usual, we strolled for hours amongst the clothing, housewares, shoes, jewelry and food stalls.

Camucia Market -

Camucia Market –

Camucia Market  –

Camucia Market -

Camucia Market –

Camucia Market -

Camucia Market –

Camucia Market -

Camucia Market –

Camucia Market -

Camucia Market –

Len and I returned to Cortona about 2 PM and had lunch at our very favorite Tuscher Caffe on Via Nazionale. We eat here almost everyday, and usually try to be a little heathy, but today we really splurged. We shared the special, a pasta prepared with light cream sauce of prosciutto, onions, and melon, (yes thinly sliced melon! as only the Italians know how), and it was not only beautiful but incredibly delicious.

Tuscher Cafe -

Tuscher Caffe –

We also shared our daily tomato salad – very healthy!

Tuscher Cafe -

Tuscher Caffe –

Then for dessert, which we usually never have at lunch, Edoardo, the chef and our friend, convinced us to try his special tiramisu with fresh cherries. Well, it ranks among the best desserts I have ever had. No drenched cookies with liquor here. Instead, a light, smooth, lovely dessert with the fresh cherries – simply amazing.

Edoardo's Tiramisu Tuscher Cafe

Edoardo’s Tiramisu
Tuscher Caffe

Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Cafe

Edoardo, Chef at Tuscher Caffe

Tonight we have been invited to a friend’s home, so Edoardo is making me his delicious apple torta to take to my hosts.

Edoardo's Mela (Apple) Torta -

Edoardo’s Mela (Apple) Torta –

As for tomorrow’s agenda? Extended hiking, then more eating, of course.

I know, it’s a tough life. So glad it’s us that “has” to do it!





Lapo turns 60!

23 Jun

Last year, I wrote about the wonderful dinner we had at Casale delle Torre Agriturismo. Our dear friends Carrol and Larry, who rent there during the summer, had invited us to dinner

Carroll, Lapo, Larry –

and it was there we met Lapo and Paola, the Agriturismo’s proprietors, and now also our friends.

Last night, we were again invited, this time to celebrate Lapo’s 60th birthday. The lovely women in the family, Paola, Ilaria and Laura, threw a surprise party for Lapo, and surprising him was no small feat!


The trees were filled with photos of fond memories of Lapo’s life.

Their wedding

Their wedding

Nightgowns for two?

Night gowns for two?

Pheasant Hunting

Pheasant Hunting

Lapo and Paola

Sempre amore

And their two grand successes!

Their two successful daughters

And a poster representing 60 years of Lapo’s work, with cheese, sheep and hay –


and place cards to match.


Place cards

The setting could have been in an Italian film, with one beautiful table set for 48.

Lapo's Birthday table

Lapo’s Birthday table

And a view no movie set could match.

Our friend Larry was tasked with keeping Lapo busy from 3:30 till 8:00, not an easy assignment, but alas, they arrived, and we knew Lapo was surprised by the tears rolling down his cheeks.

Appertivo was poolside, with music and dancing, of course!

Lapo is a proud farmer who among other things raises his own sheep, and produces wine, olive oil and cheese – a man of many talents for sure.

He is also affectionately known as “movie star” as he is the sheep herder in Under the Tuscan Sun and appears several times throughout the movie.


Dinner as you might imagine was several delicious courses, most of which I remembered to photograph before eating!

Fagottini di Borraggione

Fagottini di Borraggione –

Rosemary roasted potatoes

Rosemary roasted potatoes

smoked pok

smoked pork

Toasts and speeches were made, and Paola read a poem she wrote in the local dialect. Even the Italians next to me from Bergamo didn’t quite understand, but there were plenty of laughs and smiles from those who did. We think we got the gist of it, however,  from Paola’s antics!

Paola's poem to Lapo

Paola’s poem to Lapo

Lapo's speech


While most were eating, Mother and daughter Laura were busy decorating the homemade cake, again with elements of Lapo’s life.

Laura decorating the cake,

And the final, very delicious product…

After dinner, we moved poolside once again to sing Happy Birthday, then Lapo did the honors, fireworks and all!

Time for more champagne and Lapo’s heartfelt gratitude to his wife and daughters for their love and hard work.

More champaign and toasts

Afterward, Ilaria read a tribute and followed it with a short and fun movie of Lapo’s life.

Besides being a great husband and father, Lapo is also a caring and wonderful friend to so many. Just ask his family and friends.

The evening, which began under the warm summer sunshine and ended under the stars, was filled with love, laughter and the happy celebration of a wonderful man by his loving family.

Tanti auguri, Lapo!

E un grande abbraccio,


Judy e Leonardo

Treasure or Trash?

22 Jun

Every third Sunday in Cortona, the antique market comes to town. Trash or treasure, it’s in the eye of the beholder, yet it brings many antique followers to town. I keep hoping I’ll find a da Vinci, but alas, none so far.

Children’s books:

children's books,

Remember the Brownie?

Remember the Brownie?

Victoria No 2 – 1825 small sewing machine, still working!

Serving bowl?

Actually this is Snoopy but the Madama looks right~

And then our long walk, with vistas like this everywhere… makes exercise enjoyable.

Heading to a party tonight. As I close, someone is playing lovely music outside, and it is flowing in with the summer breeze.




“An Enchanting Walk”…

21 Jun

There is a new project underway in Cortona entitled An Enchanting Walk Under the Tuscan Sun. The goal of the program (I think)  is to increase awareness of the historic center of Cortona and other towns in Tuscany, and it ties to some of Frances Mayes’ writings and some of the shooting locations of the movie. Tonight she was celebrated as a Cortona ambassador and together, we toured some of the town’s historic sites. I had a chance to speak with her briefly and she was very gracious.


Frances Mayes in Cortona,

An unscheduled stop was in the piazza, where there were several vintage sport cars on display including Fiats, Alphas, and a Mercedes or two.





Vintage Fiat, Cortona,

Vintage Fiat, Cortona,

Vintage Fiat, Cortona,

Vintage Fiat, Cortona,

Earlier today was the typical wedding concluding on the grand steps of the municipal building, where the uninvited join the guests,

Wedding Cortona,

Wedding Cortona,

this one followed by a release of white balloons.


Last night, we enjoyed a wonderful multi-course fish dinner at AD, a new restaurant in town, with a chef  from Napoli. I took many photos and will write about it as soon as I can get back to ask the chef what we ate! (There were eight of us and we let the chef decide our dinner.)

Always something interesting happening in Cortona.





Return to Cortona

19 Jun

Hardly here 24 hours and have already reconnected with so many local friends, returning friends, and even had time to make new friends.

My long time wonderful friend Sue was visiting her daughter in Firenze, then spent a night with us before heading home. We had appertivo last night at Tuscher Cafe (Benita’s favorite!),

IMG_1515 - Version 2

then lunch there again today including Pici Amatriciana and a caprese salad.


Pici Amatriciana da Tuscher Cafe in Cortona,

Pici Amatriciana da Tuscher Cafe in Cortona,


Pici is like a thick spaghetti, made from flour and water only. It originated in the Siena area and is usually only found in Tuscany. The Amatriciana included speck, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and cheese. Delicioso! And as usual, there’s nothing quite like an Italian tomato.

In between all the eating, we managed some walking on the steep streets of this lovely Etruscan town.


And then just before heading home, we stopped in the piazza, and as usual, always something happening.


Finally, I had to stop these kids as I had never seen so large a gelato. Glad I got to them before the dripping began!


Ciao for now,




Through His Words: Day Thirty-Six

17 Jun

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect


Saturday  August 20, 1938
(no letter written for 5 days)

Honey, I got the real kick of the whole trip today when I reached my hometown and saw the house and the actual room of my birth. It was necessary to go the opposite direction from Naples to Pietrabbondante than to Ricigliano for Rici is about 100 miles southeast of Naples and my town about 100 miles north east.

Pietrabbondante to Ricigliano today by car - Google Maps

Pietrabbondante to Ricigliano today by car – Google Maps

Alex’s parents left Pietrabbondante in 1899, when he was just four years old, to bring him to America. On the other hand, Maude’s parents and even some of her grandparents, were born in Chicago, but traced their roots to Ricigliano. Alex had promised Maude that he would visit each of their ancestral towns.

It certainly was a blessing to have the use of a car to get to these mountain towns, and when I say mountain,  I mean just that. Rici is about 2500 feet above sea level and Pietra is about 4000 feet above. Rici is almost impossible to get to it as the R.R. Station is at Bovano-Ricigliano, 10 miles from Rici, and from there, the only means of transportation is a jackass with a guide or to walk. Without a car, I never could have gone there.

Joe Colianni placed the car with chauffeur at my disposal. I am paying for the gas, however, to compensate in a way for his generosity. This fella is a Chicago boy, Tony Dell Croce is his name, a nice young chap 22 years old and a marvel in those mountains. There is a lot to tell about the small towns, but today I met Rosaria’s mother, my aunt, another aunt Beatrice, and Rosaria’s other brothers and sister, two boys and one girl and a flock of near real relatives. They cried with joy in both aunts and cousins never stopped feasting their eyes on the boy from America. We took some pictures and you can see what kind of country this is, if they come out well.

I also found my relative is the big shot of the town for my Aunt Beatrice’s son is the mayor of the town and his son in turn is the priest and pastor of the church. In a few minutes, word spread that I was there and the whole town seemed to come around my aunt’s house to see the “fine automobile and the prodigal son from America.”

I went to the church climbing several hundred feet to the top of a cliff and there it was, just exactly as I had remembered it when I was a little over four years old. I went to the rear of the church and from there it is a sheer drop of a couple of thousand feet. It just makes you dizzy. From the vantage point, you can see about 20 other towns including Agnone where Doc Vitullo comes from. 

Landscape on Agnone from Pietrabbondante,

Landscape on Agnone from Pietrabbondante,

Now for a brief comparison. Rici has a little over 800 population, no railroad, and is practically in Calabria. 100 feet more and you would have been a Callabrian. There is one street a little over a block long and it is not paved, not even the Piazza or Square. (You must know that every town in Italy has a Piazza.) The only buildings with electric lights are the Pagano’s, the City Hall, and the church. The people are terribly poor and it’s hard to figure out how they live for there is nothing around it in the way of farmlands, etc. The crops are meager and scarce, but on these meager crops, they have to exist.

The people from my town are in a little better circumstance for besides raising wheat, etc., there is a great mountain forest with a very expensive wood as a product of the trees, and a few sawmills to cut the trees and market the lumber. The town has 4000 inhabitants, electric light, and a secondary railroad, so that it is accessible. It certainly is rightfully named for the mountain peaks of stone and rocks of marble from a wall on one side. The scenery here is beautiful beyond imagination, going to either town, but the roads are better going to Pietra than they are at Rici. I don’t say this to boast about my town; this is a fact.

Abbruzzi is quite higher in the mountains, cooler in summer and more scenic than any other part of Italy, and it is becoming a summer mountain resort catered to by people from Rome and Naples. Water there is marvelous. I must have drunk a gallon of water there today.

Well, I better quit writing about these towns. We got back to Naples about 11 o’clock and I am staying at Montenegros place tonight, for tomorrow I am to take a boat to Capri, which is an all-day trip.

Marionelli is coming in tomorrow morning from Rome and might go with me. He sent me a wire tonight and by coincidence, he is staying at the Flora Hotel in Rome where I stayed. He informed me there are four letters for me there. I wired back and told him to bring them with him.

Monday, the Coliannis are coming to Naples and we will be together and then on the ship for home.

Some wonderful postcards from Napoli circa 1938:

Napoli  1935- Via Caracciolo

Napoli – Via Caracciolo

Napoli  1937 - Nuova Palazzo RR. Paste - Lata posteriore

Napoli –  Nuova Palazzo  RR. Poste – Lata posteriore

Naploi - Piazza Plebiscito e Basilical S. Francesco Di Paola

Naploi – Piazza Plebiscito e Basilical S. Francesco Di Paola

This will probably be the last letter you will get before I see you, so Goodnight Sweetheart until we meet.

Lovingly yours,


Sadly for me, Alex’s trip has almost ended as this is his last letter from Italy. However, I am hoping in the next few weeks to visit Pietrabbondante and actually find the home of Alex’s birth, just as he did.  I have sent numerous emails to the local municipal office, and even contacted them by phone, but the fact is, I just need to show up. And thanks to Aunt Marion, I have my ancestors Italian birth records in hand!

It’s been an interesting and exciting journey for me. I have discovered so much about my grandparents lives and love, and what life was like for them in the 1930’s. The most fitting way I can think of to keep Alex’s trip alive is to keep it going.

Over the years, so much has changed in Pietrabbondante. Even the area has been redistricted and Pietrabbondante is now part of Molise instead of Abruzzo. Today, the population is less than 1000. And yet I’m sure, much remains the same. Who knows what I’ll discover?

Stay tuned as we all find out.




Through His Words: Day Thirty-One

13 Jun

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect


Grand Hotel Flora – Roma

Monday. August 15, 1938

“Eureka” !!

At last I received word from home and Maude dearest, was I ever so happy I felt like a child with the new toy. I got one from you, one from Billy, and one from Joe Montenegro, and it is just exactly one month since I left home.

You say you sent two letters to Naples. Well Naples is my last port of call and of course, I won’t get them until I get there Wednesday. I had hoped you sent some to Milan via American Express Company, which I should have received by now, however, I was so glad to hear from you, I will forgive you for any errors you may have made in connection with the mail.

Sometimes we just need to vent our frustrations!

I am glad to hear everyone home is in good health and Billy tells me he sees to it that you get out and enjoy yourself. Thank Billy for his letter, it was real cute. Also tell him I have taken a lot of pictures to show him when I get home. I am also very happy to know Monte is getting better. It certainly was a tragedy, and what a difference it would have made if he was in good condition and had made the trip with me.

I had expected to go to the American Express Company hoping to get mail, but this is a holiday over here. In fact, from Saturday to Tuesday, all shops are closed. The holiday is called Ferragosto and it is equal to our Labor Day.

Still celebrated today, Ferragosto is the August 15 holiday when Italians celebrate the harvest following a long period of agricultural labor.

Well, I took it rather easy yesterday, it being Sunday. I went to St. Peter’s to church,

St. Peter's at night -

St. Peter’s at night –

after which I walked around the Foro Romano (ruins) and the Coliseum.


Then I went to Fermes for dinner. They have been very nice to me and I wish you will drop them a line when I get home for the hospitality shown me. He has been with me every day since I got here, and I have met some very big shots here through him. By the way, his brother is a big mogul here but I am out of luck so far as meeting Prince Potenziani and others as they are all out of town in the country and naturally cannot be seen. However, I saw the Pope and I’m satisfied.

Alex was the first licensed Italian-American architect in the state of Illinois. In 1933, the Century of Progress Exhibition would open in Chicago. Prince Potenziani, the Royal Italian Commissioner to the Exposition, had chosen Alex to supervise the construction of the Italian Pavilion. The Prince was in Chicago for its opening, and bestowed a decoration on Alex for his work.

February 20, 1933 Ground Breaking for the Italian Pavilion. Prince Potenziani center

February 20, 1933 Ground Breaking for the Italian Pavilion. Prince Potenziani center. (Herald and Examiner Photo)

Italian Pavilion Alexander V Capraro  - Associate and Supervising Architect, Chicago

Italian Pavilion 1933,   M. Derenzi, A. Libera, A. Valente –  Architects Rome
Alexander V. Capraro – Associate and Supervising Architect, Chicago

Mr. and Mrs. Ferme and I went to the Camposanto of Rome early in the evening and it certainly was a sight to behold, altogether different from ours. Then we went to what is known as the “Baths of Caracalla” – an old ruin immense in size. They use it for open air grand opera. You should only have the chance to see it. It is a spectacle no other place in the world has. The opera was Aida. The stage, set between two huge pillars several thousand years old, 400 musicians in the orchestra, 1000 actors on the stage, the best opera stars, 20,000 people in the audience, and the seats filled only about one-third of the inside of the magnificent ruin.


Baths of Caracalla –

Still today during the summer, the Caracalla Baths turn into a platform for breathtaking Teatro dell Opera performances. I need to add this to our Bucket list!

 Powerful lights turn night into day. Finally the lights go out, the orchestra starts playing, and then absolute silence in the throng of 20,000 spectators, real music lovers, real critics of ability. And I was almost breathless in the enjoyment of such a marvelous spectacle, a performance which can be held only in Rome, the Eternal City. And what a wonderful city this is. Paris was great, Venice was unusual and wonderful, but Rome is ever interesting, ever bewitching, the city of antiquity and modernism all-in-one; the city of the Caesars of yesterday and of great men of today. Clean as a whistle, law and order 100%, and no end to art, sculpture, painting, music and culture.

1938 Roma postcard

1938 Roma postcard

The men and women both dress as good if not better than we do in the States and they parade on the streets in smart style and the height of fashion. The evenings are spent mostly at little tables on the sidewalks, eating gelati or caffe. Every street is almost the same as far is this feature is concerned and all of them are lighted better than Madison Street at Crawford Avenue. Well, I better stop raving because I could go on like this for hours about Rome.

Today I visited three of the most important churches next to St. Peter’s, besides some smaller ones, and best of all, I made the holy stairs of St. John the Lateran. This is the most sacred spot in Rome. As the enclosed card shows, there are 28 wooden steps leading to an altar of our crucified Lord.

St. John Lateran

St. John Lateran

In order to gain an indulgence, you must kneel on the first step and say certain prayers, or the rosary will do. You must continue this on each and every step without rising on your feet or without touching the step below with your feet – only your knees. In other words, you must drag yourself up to the top on your hands and knees, stopping at each step to say prayers. I did it today and believe me, I thought I would never get to the 28th step. My kneecaps felt as if they were torn to pieces by the time I finished, but I made it, and Maude, what a feeling of relief as well as gratitude towards our Lord you have when you get to the top. Well, I hope the good Lord will reward the effort in answer to the prayers I offered for you, et all.

The other churches follow in rank next to St. Peter’s are St. Paul, St. John Lateran, and Santa Maria Maggiore.

St. Paul

St. Paul

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore interior -

Santa Maria Maggiore interior –

They are so gorgeous it is difficult to describe the grandeur of these churches. All told, there are 400 churches, every one of them would make Resurrection looks sick. In the main churches I mentioned, you could actually put a half dozen churches like Resurrection and still have room for Santa Maria on Alexander Street.

Then I saw the Pantheon, a very old edifice where the bodies of King Victor Emmanuel II and others are buried.

Pantheon at night -

Pantheon at night –

Tomorrow I shall spend at the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, and National Museum, and then I think I shall have seen enough of Rome to remember it vividly.

Two of the most beautiful art treasures Alex would long remember are Michelangelo’s Pieta, (1498–1499)

and his Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512).

You should have a month here alone to do a good job of it. It is 8 PM and I am waiting for Ferme to go out to dinner somewhere. 

P.S. Confidential
Ferme and I have seen certain officials here about the decoration for PA and it will come but not before April 21, 1939. There is an absolute law that cannot be broken by anyone that this particular class of decoration be given and presented on April 21 only, that being Natale di Roma and Festa di Lavoro. The decoration is called Stella Merita di Lavoro and is given an recognition for long and meritorious labor. Ferme has already written the council in Chicago about it.

Based on my research, this “medal of honor” dates back to a Royal Decree 1898 to recognize industrialists and their employees. In 1927,  it was extended to Italians living abroad who have given evidence of patriotism, honesty and hard work as an example to their countrymen. Alex was researching the viability of this honor for his father-in-law, Maude’s father.

In the meantime, good luck, and God bless you. Loads of love and my very best to all at home.

Finally Alex was content. He had heard from his family and knew all was well. He effortlessly penned an eight page letter to Maude, the love of his life, describing in detail the treasures of Rome he would never forget, and that she would only ever “see” through his eyes. Lucky for Maude, Alex’s eyes absorbed deep beyond the surface, as only an architect could.

As ever yours, AL 




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