Mission Accomplished! Missione Compiuta!

12 Mar

For years in my Italian class, I was always somewhat envious of classmates who had familial connections in Italy. Being second generation, I realized that my ancestors had emigrated years ago, so I understood. Yet, were there relatives I did not know?

As we planned our trip to Napoli, my curiosity went into high gear. After several phone calls, emails and internet searches, the pieces of my puzzle began to take shape. And then yesterday, the final pieces of the puzzle were put into place.

Meet Bianca and her son, Danilo, distant cousins on my maternal grandmother’s side.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Although it was a bit of a challenge understanding all the connections and generations, with fast conversations mostly in Italian, Bianca’s great-grandmother Fiorita is my great, great grandmother.

They were born in a tiny area of Castel San Giorgio called Santa Maria a Favore, way too small to be called a village. It seems to have only three streets, one being Via Villa, the street of their home. In the photo above, Bianca and Danilo stand on the rooftop terrace overlooking part of the expansive villa.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The villa was built around 1835, we think by Gaetano Auria, a distant uncle and attorney.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Gaetano’s wife, Fiorita Liguori, seems to have come from a noble family. They had no children, so they eventually left parts of the villa to a nephew, Pasquale, and a niece, Fiorita, Bianca’s and my ancestors. The villa, therefore, was the home where Bianca’s mother, Carolina (Anna) and my grandmother, Serafina, who were first cousins, lived as children with their parents and  siblings.

Pictured below are my maternal grandparents, Salvatore and Serafina, years after they met and married in Chicago. His family came from Nola, a part of metro Naples, but back to the villa.

Salvatore and Serafina, my grandparents ©Blogginginitaly.com

Salvatore and Serafina, my grandparents ©Blogginginitaly.com

This is part of the front of the main building when you enter the complex.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Over the years, (and my order is suspect here), some emigrated to America, the villa was rented to a hospital which repurposed it, the hospital moved out, some relatives returned from America and moved in, and at some point, the earthquakes occurred, causing severe damage to the structure.

At various times, the original villa as well as the apartments were divided. Some years ago, Bianca began to restore a part of the villa, including rooms where my grandmother lived until age 16, when she, her parents and siblings, emigrated. If I understand correctly, Bianca’s family lived in the area over the arch which used to connect inside to the area on the left. The left area is where my grandmother and her family lived and the area which has been restored. It is easy to see the damaging effects of time and nature and at the same time, see the beauty and grandeur that once existed. No wonder my grandmother always loved being surrounded by beautiful things.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

I had only ever hoped to see the outside of the villa, so it was a great surprise that we were able to enter and see a bit of the restored rooms inside of Via Villa 49.

Street door©Blogginginitaly.com

Street door©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

original doors©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

original portico©Blogginginitaly.com

There’s even a wine cellar under this part of the building, and apparently a much larger one under the main house.

wine cellar©Blogginginitaly.com

wine cellar©Blogginginitaly.com

wine cellar©Blogginginitaly.com

wine cellar©Blogginginitaly.com

How I’d love to tap these barrels!

wine cellar©Blogginginitaly.com

wine cellar©Blogginginitaly.com

A Day of Italian Hospitality

Danilo and Bianca picked us up in Napoli at 9:30. Our first stop was Vietri sul Mare, home of ceramics and incredible views on the Gulf of Salerno.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Next stop, the beautiful city of Salerno, perhaps too often bypassed because of the popularity of Positano. This is the region of my grandmother’s home and the beginning of the Amalfi drive. We walked along the lungo mare, through the beautiful old city, and finally up to the Duomo.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then on to see my grandmother’s villa before the rain began.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

This is a view down quiet Via Villa from one of the villa’s balconies.

View from villa window down Via Villa©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

The next photo is a panoramic view, a bit confusing but it does show the size of the property and all of the structures. Try to picture it as a closed rectangle. The open archway on the left is actually the center entrance archway and is quite large. The building with car on the right actually wraps around to meet the building with arch on the left. Ok, forget it.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

On to Bianca’s beautiful home in San Giorgio for an incredible five-course meal, all lovingly homemade, and served with conversation, smiles, and more deciphering of the family tree.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Even artichokes roasted in the fire.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

At the house, we met Bianca’s husband, Giovanni, his sister, and Danilo’s wife, Anna Paola, who made the delicious chocolate torte. Bianca and her husband are retired teachers and Danilo and his wife both have PhDs, his as a physicist and hers in bioethics. “He works on the volcano,” his uncle Renato told me before coming, so we kidded Danilo about being able to flip the switch for tourists. In reality, he actually does monitor the seismic activity among other things, so he’s definitely a good person to know when in Napoli!

I explained to my new-found relatives that each trip we take to Italy gives us a few extra special experiences, soprattutto, above all others. Spending the day with them was certainly one of these!

Around 7 PM, Danilo and Bianca returned us to our hotel in Napoli, a nearly 2 hour drive back in crazy bumper to bumper traffic, which Danilo makes twice daily for work.

Bianca and Danilo, I am so grateful we had the opportunity to meet you, to try to untangle the family tree, to see my grandmother’s house, and benefit from your incredibly warm hospitality. We will always remember the day we spent with you and your family.

Bianca e Danilo, io sono così grato abbiamo avuto l’opportunità di incontrare voi, per cercare di districare l’albero genealogico, per vedere la casa di mia nonna, e trarre vantaggio dalla tua incredibilmente calorosa ospitalità. Ricorderemo sempre il giorno abbiamo trascorso con voi e la vostra famiglia.

Grazie mille… speriamo che ci vediamo di nuovo qualche volta!

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

When I get home, I will attempt to reconstruct the family tree from my scribbled notes and assemble my siblings, aunt, and any interested nieces, nephews and cousins, to share more photos and stories. For now, I remain incredibly happy to be able to share this amazing experience. Definitely Missione Compiuta!

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

20 Responses to “Mission Accomplished! Missione Compiuta!”

  1. Connelly, Vincent J. March 12, 2016 at 10:21 AM #

    Judy – it’s me ( Fiorita;-) bravissima!! I’m reading this on Vince’s phone – so excited for hearing more and going there one day –
    Maybe we can all go together! Thanks for tracking down the original Florence- from where my name is derived – and so great that you actually saw the hous – love to all! Florence❤️
    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly March 12, 2016 at 10:27 AM #

      It was amazing, I’m thrilled it all worked out so well. Such lovely people, our relatives!

      Like

  2. Larsen, L R March 12, 2016 at 10:59 AM #

    That was a monumentally impressive Blog.
    Spectacularly organized and well photographed.
    The Villa was only too impressive
    I feel like your visit was mine
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ted Walker March 12, 2016 at 11:37 AM #

    What a wonderful story and, as usual, wonderful pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sandra March 12, 2016 at 11:54 AM #

    Thanks, Judy,very interesting. You sure get to the bottom of things. How great for you to find your relatives! I notice that Bianca went home to San Giorgio. Is that Calabria? Rudy’s mother’s family came from San Giorgio, Mogeto. Can it possibly be the same place? Probably many San Giorgio’s! But…..had to ask.

    Sounds like an incredible trip. How long are you there? Is this leading to Cortona in the Fall? Or is that a second Italian trip?

    Ciao, Sandra

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly March 12, 2016 at 2:48 PM #

      Sandra, this San Giorgio is the larger town that my grandmother’s town belongs to, both in Salerno, so not the same. And yes, eventually Cortona. Judy

      Like

  5. Connelly, Vincent J. March 12, 2016 at 2:29 PM #

    I think this happens to be your longest blog but also probably your best blog ever.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dominic Mosca March 12, 2016 at 6:22 PM #

    You’re a great detective

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Barbara Kaines March 13, 2016 at 12:51 PM #

    Sounds like the most wonderful walk through your family’s history. As always, I love tagging along on your journey.
    Ciao,
    Barbara Kaines

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robert Ross March 13, 2016 at 1:31 PM #

    What a lovely story connecting family roots and great photos. Thank you for sharing this. It is very moving and well told. I have no Italian family connections ( that I know of ) but got very interested in and connected to the area around Impruneta ( just above Florence ) years ago and have been working on research and writing regarding the amazing terra cotta from that area and the generations of families that keep the wonderful traditions alive and rich.

    Your work inspires me even more! Returning in October now.

    Best,

    Robert W. Ross
    Landscape Architect and Garden Consultant

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly March 13, 2016 at 2:46 PM #

      Thanks and best of luck to you in your research of the beautiful terra cotta.

      Like

  9. Hilary Martinez March 13, 2016 at 2:15 PM #

    Wonderful Judy!! What a find…what a treat!! Thanks for sharing ..keep on enjoying! Saludos, Hilary and Gustavo

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alexis Colianni March 13, 2016 at 8:37 PM #

    What a wonderful day, Judy. The pictures are lovely. This was quite an opening adventure to your travels!
    xoxo Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

  11. jean March 14, 2016 at 1:06 AM #

    This is wonderful! I went to research my grandfather’s birthplace in Scotland and found… a town full of Italians! Italians date back to the 19th century in Scotland and there are 100,000 with their own tartan.
    http://www.incognitobistro.com/clan-italia/
    Maybe that is why I feel at home in Italy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. karenincalabria March 22, 2016 at 9:51 PM #

    Wow! What a great story and set of pictures, from the relatives to the houses to the beautifully decorated cake!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: