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Un Onore Davvero! (Italian Version)

10 Sep

Due settimane fa, e inaspettatamente, abbiamo ricevuto un invito a partecipare alla 76a Mostra Internazionale del Cinema di Venezia, ospiti del Prof. Dr. Massimo Lucidi, giornalista economico, autore e fondatore di numerosi eventi internazionali come il Premio Eccellenza o il Premio Italiano Eccellenza .

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Il festival si tiene al Lido di Venezia e il nostro incontro è stato all’Hotel Excelsior. Per il loro sito web: “Questa straordinaria creazione ha riscosso un grande successo il 21 luglio 1908, con una sontuosa festa in riva al mare per oltre 3.000 ospiti. È diventata rapidamente un paradiso per l’elite, le star del cinema e la regalità”.

Nel 1932, l’Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort ha dato il benvenuto al primo Festival del cinema di Venezia ed è ora la sede ufficiale di questo evento di fama mondiale.

© HOTEL EXCELSIOR VAT: 09825980965

Ci siamo presi un momento per goderci un cappuccino in buona compagnia.

©blogginginitaly.com

L’incontro a cui abbiamo partecipato è stato intitolato “Cinema e Web”. Si è concentrato sul rapporto tra emozione e seduzione del cinema e le opportunità digitali di oggi per preservare e condividere storia e cultura.

Ma perché noi? Un po ‘di storia richiesta qui …

Io e Len, entrambi di origini italiane, abbiamo sempre avuto il sogno e l’obiettivo di trascorrere un periodo significativo in Italia. Dal 2001, con il nostro viaggio in Calabria per trovare i documenti dei nonni di Len, abbiamo continuato la ricerca delle nostre case ancestrali e visitato la maggior parte. Una volta in pensione, e desiderosi di vivere davvero il paese dei nostri antenati, abbiamo scelto l’antica e bellissima città di Cortona in Toscana.

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Per noi, era la dimensione e l’ambiente perfetti per darci una base centrale da cui partire, per interagire veramente con la gente del posto e per assorbire la cultura dei nostri antenati mentre ci immergevamo nella vita quotidiana italiana. Non avremmo potuto immaginare le grandi amicizie che avremmo fatto.

Crescendo, io e Len siamo stati entrambi fortunati ad essere circondati da grandi famiglie italiane estese. Ognuna delle nostre vite era piena di divertenti tradizioni italiane, grandi riunioni di famiglia e amore.

Nella mia famiglia c’erano 10 nipoti per parte. E mentre sapevamo dei risultati dei nostri nonni, non era come se parlassero di se stessi. Per noi, erano nonni tipici e divertenti che lavoravano duramente e amavano i loro nipoti a caro prezzo.

Di conseguenza, il mio fascino ancestrale iniziò davvero molti anni dopo, quando iniziai a ricercare mio nonno paterno, Alex Capraro.

©blogginginitaly.com   Alex Capraro and wife Maude

Lasciò Pietrabbondante in Abruzzo all’età di quattro anni ed emigrò con i suoi giovani genitori in America dove alla fine divenne il primo architetto italo-americano autorizzato in Illinois. Agli inizi degli anni ’30, fu nominato capo architetto dal governo italiano per il padiglione italiano alla Century of Progress Fair del 1933 a Chicago. Anche se è morto quando avevo cinque anni, mia nonna conservava molte delle sue lettere e dei suoi documenti. Alla fine, questi mi sono stati trasmessi. A tempo debito, sono stato in grado di mettere insieme così tanto di ciò che era e ciò che aveva realizzato nella sua vita, come documentato nella mia serie di blog: Attraverso le sue parole: riflessioni da e su mio nonno.

La storia di Alex ha suscitato interesse, non solo con i miei familiari, ma anche con molti amici italiani.

Questo mi ha portato a ricercare e condividere qualcosa in più su mio nonno materno, Salvatore Ferrara, che ha aperto una pasticceria al dettaglio nella sezione Little Italy di Chicago nei primi anni del 1900.

Salvatore Ferrara (r) C.1908

La pasticceria produceva dolci italiani, grandi torte nuziali e mandorle ricoperte di zucchero, o coriandoli, che Salvatore aveva imparato a fare in Italia. Quando le vendite di caramelle hanno superato i pasticcini, ha lasciato la moglie per dirigere il forno e alla fine ha lanciato la Ferrara Pan Candy Company. Nel 2017 il Gruppo Ferrero, produttore di Nutella e il secondo produttore di cioccolato e azienda dolciaria al mondo, ha acquistato la Ferrara Candy Company.

Per non essere superata dagli uomini, mia nonna materna, Serafina Ferrara, divenne una dinamica personalità imprenditoriale e filantropo.

Serafina Ferrara and brother

A differenza di miei nonni, ho avuto la fortuna di conoscerla tra i 20 anni. Oltre a gestire la panetteria, ha aperto due delle prime sale per banchetti di Chicago, il Chateau Royale e il maniero di Ferrara. Ha anche dedicato un tempo significativo a cause caritatevoli e civili. Era conosciuta come “L’angelo di Halsted Street” per la sua infinita generosità verso i meno fortunati. Nel 1956, fu nominata nonna nazionale dell’anno insieme a Ed Sullivan come nonno dell’anno. Lo stesso anno, fu decorata dal Governo italiano per aver contribuito a cementare le relazioni italo-americane: i suoi numerosi successi nella vita sono stati inseriti nel record congressuale della Camera dei Rappresentanti degli Stati Uniti dall’onorevole Frank Annunzio nel 1972.

Nel corso del tempo, ho potuto vedere gli ingranaggi girare nella testa del nostro buon amico Carlo. Era incuriosito, non solo per la storia di questi immigrati italiani che hanno realizzato così tanto in America, ma che le due famiglie erano unite dal matrimonio di mia madre, Benita Ferrara, e di mio padre, Bill Capraro. Carlo è stato anche colpito dalla decisione di Len e dalla mia decisione di immergerci completamente nella storia e nella cultura dei nostri antenati, nonché di ricercare e condividere le nostre storie. Sapevo che aveva iniziato a parlare con gli altri, ma mai fino a che punto.

Avanti veloce alla scorsa settimana e l’invito.

A cena mercoledì sera, abbiamo incontrato Massimo Lucidi (di fronte a me) per la prima volta, sebbene fosse stato ben informato. Prima che la serata fosse finita, mi aveva invitato a partecipare a un panel la mattina successiva.

©blogginginitaly.com

La sala conferenze Tropicana dell’Hotel Excelsior ospitava il padiglione italiano dove si sarebbe tenuto l’incontro.

©blogginginitaly.com
©blogginginitaly.com

All’improvviso, sono stato sul palco con un membro del parlamento, un colonnello dei carabinieri, il Presidente di Rai Cinema e Massimo Lucidi, tutti che recitano ruoli significativi e vari nella promozione del cinema e delle arti legate alla storia e alla cultura dell’Italia in un palcoscenico internazionale.

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Il mio ruolo è stato quello di condividere una breve storia (in italiano, ovviamente!) Dei miei nonni, tutti immigrati italiani e dei contributi che hanno fatto in America. E perché così tanto interesse? Come è stato sottolineato durante il panel, ci sono così tante storie meravigliose di immigrati italiani che non vengono mai ascoltate e mai raccontate, ed è la sfida di coloro che sono coinvolti in tutti i tipi di media a cercare tali storie.

Nella sala c’erano produttori, registi, attori, scrittori e giornalisti, e molti furono riconosciuti per il loro lavoro.

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E poi, alla conclusione del panel, è arrivata la nostra incredibile sorpresa e il nostro straordinario onore – Len ed io siamo stati riconosciuti dal Comitato Esecutivo del Premio Eccellenza come segue:

Per la storia di straordinario impegno, passione e stile,
siamo lieti di premiare
Judy e Leonard Gingerella
Ambasciatori della storia italiana dell’emigrazione

©blogginginitaly.com     Colonel Anania, Len , Judy, Massimo Lucidi

La cerimonia di premiazione effettiva si terrà a Washington DC in ottobre, ma poiché non saremo disponibili, ci è stato assegnato il nostro premio in anticipo. Ed è per questo che siamo stati invitati a Venezia.

Dopo l’evento, Massimo ha condotto un’intervista con me e Carlo, disponibile su YouTubehttps://youtu.be/Ikif5iup2mY

https://youtu.be/Ikif5iup2mY

Abbiamo presentato a Massimo un libro di Luciano Meoni, il sindaco di Cortona.

©blogginginitaly.com
©blogginginitaly.com

E il colonnello Anania ha presentato un libro all’onorevole Nicola Acunzo di Francesco Attesti, Consigliere culturale di Cortona.

Len ed io saremo per sempre grati a Massimo, Orazio, Carlo ea tutti coloro che vedono valore nel condividere il passato e sono impegnati a mantenere vive le storie. Grazie mille, grazie! Il nostro tempo trascorso insieme al 76 ° Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Venezia sarà qualcosa che apprezzeremo per sempre.

Soprattutto, la mia sincera gratitudine verso i miei nonni e bisnonni per avere il coraggio di lasciarsi alle spalle il noto, cercare opportunità in America e creare eredità straordinarie. Sarò sempre sbalordito e anche ispirato dai loro successi. Come loro nipote, sono così orgoglioso di poter condividere le loro storie.

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Su una nota profetica … a fine luglio, la nostra famiglia allargata si è riunita a Chicago per una settimana. Una notte attorno a una grande tavola rotonda, ci hanno chiesto ciascuno di completare la seguente frase:

“Sono un 10 a _________.”

Ho riflettuto, non sono sicuro della mia risposta, e poi a mia volta, la parola è semplicemente saltata fuori: RICERCA.

Non avrei mai immaginato che la mia ricerca mi avrebbe portato in questo incredibile viaggio.

Resta sintonizzato: potrebbe esserci ancora qualcosa in arrivo.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Honor Indeed!

10 Sep

Two weeks ago, and most unexpectedly, we received an invitation to attend the 76th Venice International Film Festival, guests of Prof. Dr. Massimo Lucidi, economic journalist, author, and founder of numerous international events such as the Premio Eccellenza or Italian Excellence Award.

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The festival is held on Venice Lido and our meeting was at the Hotel Excelsior. Per their website: “This extraordinary creation opened to great acclaim on 21st July 1908, with a lavish ocean-front party for over 3,000 guests. It rapidly became a haven for the elite, film stars and royalty.”

In 1932, Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort welcomed the first ever Venice Film Festival and is now the official venue of this world-famous event.

© HOTEL EXCELSIOR VAT: 09825980965

We took a moment to enjoy a cappuccino in good company.

©blogginginitaly.com

The meeting we participated in was titled “Cinema and Web.” It focused on the relationship between the emotion and seduction of cinema and today’s digital opportunities to preserve and share history and culture.

But why us? A bit of history required here…

Len and I, both with Italian origins, always had a dream and goal to spend significant time in Italy. Since 2001, with our trip to Calabria to find Len’s grandparents’ records, we’ve continued the research of our ancestral homes and visited most. Once we retired, and wanting to truly experience the country of our ancestors, we chose the ancient and beautiful town of Cortona in Tuscany.

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For us, it was the perfect size and setting to give us a central base from which to travel, to truly interact with locals, and to absorb the culture of our ancestors as we became immersed in daily Italian living. Little could we have imagined the great friendships we would make.

Growing up, Len and I were both very fortunate to be surrounded by large extended Italian families. Each of our lives was filled with fun Italian traditions, large family gatherings and love.

In my family, there were 10 grandchildren on each side. And while we knew of our grandparents’ accomplishments, it wasn’t as if they talked about themselves. For us, they were typical and fun grandparents who worked hard and loved their grandchildren dearly.

As a result, my ancestral fascination truly began many years later when I started researching my paternal grandfather, Alex Capraro.

©blogginginitaly.com   Alex Capraro and wife Maude

He left Pietrabbondante in Abruzzo at age four and emigrated with his young parents to America where he eventually became the first licensed Italian-American architect in Illinois. In the early 1930’s, he was appointed chief architect by the Italian Government for the Italian Pavilion at the 1933 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago. Although he passed away when I was five, my grandmother kept many of his letters and documents.  Eventually, these were passed on to me. In due time, I was able to piece together so much of who he was and what he had accomplished in his life, as documented in my blog series: Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather.

Alex’s story generated interest, not only with my family members, but also with many Italian friends.

This led me to research and share more about my maternal grandfather, Salvatore Ferrara, who opened a retail pastry and candy shop in the Little Italy section of Chicago in the early 1900s.

Salvatore Ferrara (r) C.1908

The bakery produced Italian pastries, large wedding cakes, and the sugarcoated almonds, or confetti, that Salvatore had learned to make in Italy. When candy sales surpassed pastries, he left his wife to run the bakery and eventually launched the Ferrara Pan Candy Company. In 2017, the Ferrero Group, maker of Nutella and the second largest chocolate producer and confectionery company in the world, purchased the Ferrara Candy Company.

Not to be outdone by the men, my maternal grandmother, Serafina Ferrara, became a dynamic business personality and philanthropist.

Serafina Ferrara and brother

Unlike my grandfathers, I had the good fortune to know her into my 20s. In addition to running the bakery, she opened two of Chicago’s first banquet halls, the Chateau Royale and Ferrara Manor. She also devoted significant time to charitable and civic causes. She was known as “The Angel of Halsted Street” for her unending generosity to those less fortunate. In 1956, she was named national grandmother of the year along with Ed Sullivan as grandfather of the year. The same year, she was decorated by the Italian government for helping to cement Italo-American relations. Her many life accomplishments were entered into the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional record by the Honorable Frank Annunzio in 1972.

Over time, I could see the gears turning in our good friend Carlo’s head. He was intrigued, not only about the story of these Italian immigrants who accomplished so much in America, but that the two families were united though the marriage of my mother, Benita Ferrara, and my dad, Bill Capraro. Carlo was also struck by Len’s and my decision to fully immerse ourselves in the history and culture of our ancestors, as well as research and share our stories. I knew he had begun talking to others, but never quite to what extent.

Fast forward to last week, and the invitation.

At dinner Wednesday night, we met Massimo Lucidi (across from me) for the first time, although he had been well briefed. Before the evening was over, he had invited me to join a panel the next morning.

©blogginginitaly.com

The Tropicana Conference Room at Hotel Excelsior housed the Italian Pavilion where the meeting would be held.

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©blogginginitaly.com

Suddenly, I was on stage with a parliamentary member, a carabinieri colonel, the president of Rai Cinema, and Massimo Lucidi, all who play significant and varied roles in the promotion of film and the arts related to the history and culture of Italy on an international stage.

©blogginginitaly.com

My role was to share a brief history (in Italian, of course!) of my grandparents, all Italian immigrants, and the contributions they made in America. And why so much interest? As was pointed out during the panel, there are so many wonderful stories of Italian immigrants that are never heard, and never told, and it is the challenge of those involved in all types of media to seek out such stories.

In the room were producers, directors, actors, writers and journalists, and several were recognized for their work.

©blogginginitaly.com

And then, at the conclusion of the panel, came our incredible surprise and amazing honor – Len and I were recognized by the Executive Committee of Premio Eccellenza as follows:

For the history of extraordinary commitment, passion and style,
we are pleased to award
Judy and Leonard Gingerella
Ambassadors of the Italian History of Emigration

©blogginginitaly.com     Colonel Anania, Len , Judy, Massimo Lucidi

The actual award ceremony will be held in Washington DC in October, but since we won’t be available, we were given our award in advance. And that is why we were invited to Venice.

After the event, Massimo conducted an interview with Carlo and me which is available on YouTube. https://youtu.be/Ikif5iup2mY

https://youtu.be/Ikif5iup2mY

We presented Massimo with a book from Luciano Meoni, the Mayor of Cortona.

©blogginginitaly.com
©blogginginitaly.com

And Colonel Anania presented a book to Honorable Nicola Acunzo from Francesco Attesti, the Cortona Cultural Councilor. 

Len and I will be forever grateful to Massimo, Orazio, Carlo and all those who see value in sharing the past and are committed to keeping the stories alive. Grazie mille, thank you! Our time spent together at the 76th Venice International Film Festival will be something we’ll cherish forever.

Most of all, my heartfelt gratitude to my grandparents and great grandparents for having the courage to leave the known behind, seek opportunity in America, and create extraordinary legacies. I will always be in awe and also inspired by their accomplishments. As their granddaughter, I am so proud to be able to share their stories.

©blogginginitaly.com

On a prophetic footnote… in late July, our extended family gathered in Chicago for a week. One night around a large round table, we were each asked to complete the following sentence:

“I am a 10 at _________.”

I pondered, not sure of my response, and then at my turn, the word just popped out – RESEARCHING.

Little could I have ever imagined that my research would take me on this incredible journey.

Stay tuned – there just might be more to come.

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day 2019- Buona Festa della Mamma!

12 May

(A repeat of my annual sentiments with a few added photos.)

Mother’s Day is a special time to remember
how fortunate I am to be part of a long line of strong,
intelligent and loving Italian women.

Maude©Blogginginitaly.com

Paternal Grandmother Maude ©Blogginginitaly.com

Serafina©Blogginginitaly.com

Maternal Grandmother Serafina ©Blogginginitaly.com

 

Benita©Blogginginitaly.com

My Mother Benita (at my wedding) ©Blogginginitaly.com

My parents wedding 1947 ©blogginginitaly.com

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(L-R visiting Paris) Aunt Marilyn, Mom, Aunt Florence ©Blogginginitaly.com

Aunt Marion ©blogginginitaly.com

It is also a day to celebrate
my incredible sisters, nieces and cousins, (pictured and not),
who are not only amazing Mothers,

but also determined women who incorporate
the traditions learned from our ancestors as they create new ones.

©blogginginitaly.com

Poor quality but fun memory! ©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

To all of them, 
and to the dear friends/wonderful Mothers
I have met throughout my life’s journeys…
I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love, family and relaxation.

And to my Benita… my forever gratitude for giving me this special day.

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy Mother’s Day – Buona Festa della Mamma!

Ciao,
Judy

2018 in Review

31 Dec

A great way to look back at 2018 is through my photos. For me, they paint a picture of wonderful times spent with family and friends. Each picture brings a smile to my face and each memory reminds me of how lucky I am to have these people in my life.

A look back at 2018…

Florida in winter

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Summer in Chicago

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Thanksgiving

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Key West Destination Wedding

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Christmastime

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Cortona and all around Italy

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As we end another year, many thanks to family and friends, pictured here and not, who continue to enrich our lives as we create the future together.

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From Chicago to Cortona, from our hearts to yours,
our very best wishes
for a healthy and happy 2019!

©blogginginitaly.com

Happy New Year! Buon Anno!!

Ciao,
Judy

A Grand Slam Night!

9 Jun

Last month on my birthday, while still in Cortona, Benita called with birthday wishes and a surprise gift – she bought us tickets for a CUBS game on June 6. So off we went last Wednesday.

As is always the case, whenever I get near Wrigley Field, I love seeing the iconic marquee above the entrance, one that has welcome fans for the last 80 years!

©blogginginitaly.com

What was new for me was all the renovation across the field on Clark Street. I knew that a hotel and many restaurants had opened, but this was my first time seeing them.

©blogginginitaly.com

Should you not have a ticket to the game, every restaurant has open seating with large TV screens. And while you can’t literally see inside the ball park from there, you can certainly partake in the cheering!

Benita had chosen Dutch and Docs for our dinner, opened just 2 weeks ago, and named in honor of players who had carried one of these two nicknames over the years.

©blogginginitaly.com

We started with the cauliflower toast – delicious!

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Len and Benita followed with fried entrees while I opted for a salad. We put off dessert till later, walked around a bit, then headed for our seats. Our view from behind home plate was terrific!

©blogginginitaly.com

At game time, the sun was shining, the skies were blue, the wind was still and the temp was 70° – a perfect evening! Benita posted this on Instagram:

©blogginginitaly.com

As for the game… for about half of the game, CUBS led 3-0, until the Phillies scored two runs in the top of the 9th inning. Damn.

It was about 10 PM, bottom of the 9th, and after two CUBS were on base, Len wondered aloud how many extra innings this game might go. Suddenly the bases were loaded and Jason Hayward was facing the pitcher.

With two outs and two strikes, he let one go deep into right field. And that, my friends, was a walk off grand slam!

The over 41,000 fans erupted! CUBS WIN 7-5! CUBS WIN!

©blogginginitaly.com

©blogginginitaly.com

Oh, what a night, what a very fun and memorable night…

©blogginginitaly.com

And what a very perfect birthday celebration for me.

Thanks, Benita, you sure know how to pick ‘em!

Ciao,
Judy

 

 

Remembering a year ago…

5 Dec

Last year, I sadly published this post and can hardly believe a year has passed. There is so much I keep learning about my grandfather Alex’s life, so much more I want to discuss with my Aunt Marion, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, I’ll try to remember how lucky we were to have her till almost 90. In memory of Aunt Marion, one year later…

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Yesterday was Aunt Marion’s 90th birthday and she was throwing a party. How lucky to approach 90, still active and in full command. She had shopped the day after Thanksgiving and found just what she wanted to wear – a red wool jacket and black pants.

What birthday gift would I give Aunt Marion? The answer came easily. In October, 2013, I began writing a series of posts that traced a European trip my grandfather, Alex, her father, took in 1938. I titled the series Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather. From Alex’s letters, postcards, etc., that Aunt Marion had saved, I was able to document every step of his incredible journey. 76 years, 10 months and 10 days after Alex returned to his birthplace, so too did Len and I, being the first and only, we think, descendants to step foot in the town of Pietrabbondante, Italy.

With each post, Aunt Marion would call me or I her. How I loved those conversations. Along with several members of my extended family, I learned much about a man I hardly knew, and even Aunt Marion learned a great deal more about her father. Who could have guessed that a blog could bring so much joy?

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com Sharing info with Aunt Marion, my sibs & some cousins.

“I just wish I could print these all out,” she had said to me on more than one occasion.

As her 90th birthday approached , I found blog2print.com, a company that could make a book of my blogs. With guidance from a very helpful customer service, I created the front and back covers, wrote the dedication, and selected the contents. It was the perfect gift.

©Blogginginitaly.com

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©Blogginginitaly.com Dedication Page

©Blogginginitaly.com Dedication Page

Of particular note is the dedication to Aunt Marion: …my guiding light, collaborator and friend, who guarded “the bag” that made this all possible. The bag, of course, contained my grandfather’s letters and so much more that she had kept all these years.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

On Saturday, instead of celebrating her 90th birthday, we celebrated her wonderful life. Sadly and very unexpectedly, she left us just 5 days short of her 90th birthday.

I will miss her and our talks. But like the other strong Italian women in our family who proceeded her – my grandmothers, my mother and my aunts, I will remember her always and the traditions she passed on.

If only I could have given her the book.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Sleep well, Aunt Marion. Love you.
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day 2017 – Buona Festa della Mamma!

14 May

Although similar to a post I wrote last year, the sentiments are always worth repeating…

Mother’s Day is a special time to remember
how fortunate I am to be part of a long line of strong,
intelligent and loving Italian women.

Maude©Blogginginitaly.com

Paternal Grandmother Maude ©Blogginginitaly.com

Serafina©Blogginginitaly.com

Maternal Grandmother Serafina ©Blogginginitaly.com

 

Benita©Blogginginitaly.com

My Mother Benita (at my wedding) ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

(L-R visiting Paris) Aunt Marilyn, Mom, Aunt Kiki ©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Aunt Marion ©Blogginginitaly.com

It is also a day to celebrate
my incredible sisters, nieces and cousins, who are not only amazing Mothers,
but determined women who incorporate
the traditions learned from our ancestors as they create new ones.

To all of them,
and to the dear friends/wonderful Mothers
I have met throughout my life’s journeys…

I wish you all a beautiful day filled with love and relaxation.
Happy Mother’s Day – Buona Festa della Mamma!

©Blogginginitaly.com

Ciao,
Judy

In Memory of…

4 Dec

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Yesterday was Aunt Marion’s 90th birthday and she was throwing a party. How lucky to approach 90, still active and in full command. She had shopped the day after Thanksgiving and found just what she wanted to wear – a red wool jacket and black pants.

What birthday gift would I give Aunt Marion? The answer came easily. In October, 2013, I began writing a series of posts that traced a European trip my grandfather, Alex, her father, took in 1938. I titled the series Through His Words: Reflections From and About My Grandfather. From Alex’s letters, postcards, etc., that Aunt Marion had saved, I was able to document every step of his incredible journey. 76 years, 10 months and 10 days after Alex returned to his birthplace, so too did Len and I, being the first and only, we think, descendants to step foot in the town of Pietrabbondante, Italy.

With each post, Aunt Marion would call me or I her. How I loved those conversations. Along with several members of my extended family, I learned much about a man I hardly knew, and even Aunt Marion learned a great deal more about her father. Who could have guessed that a blog could bring so much joy?

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©Blogginginitaly.com Sharing info with Aunt Marion, my sibs & some cousins.

“I just wish I could print these all out,” she had said to me on more than one occasion.

As her 90th birthday approached , I found blog2print.com, a company that could make a book of my blogs. With guidance from a very helpful customer service, I created the front and back covers, wrote the dedication, and selected the contents. It was the perfect gift.

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©Blogginginitaly.com Dedication Page

©Blogginginitaly.com Dedication Page

Of particular note is the dedication to Aunt Marion: …my guiding light, collaborator and friend, who guarded “the bag” that made this all possible. The bag, of course, contained my grandfather’s letters and so much more that she had kept all these years.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

On Saturday, instead of celebrating her 90th birthday, we celebrated her wonderful life. Sadly and very unexpectedly, she left us just 5 days short of her 90th birthday.

I will miss her and our talks. But like the other strong Italian women in our family who proceeded her – my grandmothers, my mother and my aunts, I will remember her always and the traditions she passed on.

If only I could have given her the book.

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Sleep well, Aunt Marion. Love you.
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

19 Jun

To my husband Len, in honor of father’s day, a bit of a trip down memory lane. Whether fishing, boating, camping, building bikes, coaching baseball, attending school functions, going to baseball games, dressing up for Halloween, swimming with dolphins, etc.,

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thanks for being a wonderful father, grandfather, and husband!

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Ti amo,
Judy

 

 

 

A Beautiful Italian Birthday!

23 May

44 years ago, I celebrated my 21st birthday at Gino’s restaurant in Rome with a wonderful group of friends/fellow students. Shortly after, I would return to the US with my badge of honor – a driver’s license showing I was 21.

Yesterday,  I celebrated my birthday, (you can do the math!), with a wonderful group of friends at Tuscher Cafe in Cortona. Soon, I will return to the US with another badge of honor – a red, white and blue Medicare card!

Yesterday was the kind of day one would order – sunny, warm, and filled with blue skies and wonderful greetings from family and friends, near and far, including this:

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Len decided we should start the day at Tuscher with brunch and a prosecco toast – sounded good to me.

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Afterward, we went for a long walk and enjoyed vistas that never get old.

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Time for lunch – back to Tuscher for Edoardo’s new fish sandwich with fries… we split one, and enjoyed people watching as we sipped some vino.

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Feeling the need for another walk, the antique fair in town was the perfect venue. Finally, we headed home for a rest before dinner.

At 8pm, we arrived at Tuscher, (yes, it was definitely a Tuscher kind of day!) to a beautiful table and waited for our guests to arrive.

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Massimo and Niccolo took care of us as Dani and Edo worked their magic in the kitchen.

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Although the invitation said no gifts please, our guests claimed to not understand English!

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Len had already given me a relaxing day at the local spa, and Benita surprised me with family tickets to see James Taylor at Wrigley Field this summer.

Dinner began with Champaign and appertivo.

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Often interrupted for photos and toasts…

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I brought hand-made honey candles for each guest and created a bit of a game around their choice.

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First course –  spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil…delicious!

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Second course – beef filet cooked to order, roasted rosemary potatoes and sautéed artichokes. Perfect!

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Sometime after dinner and singing and stories, and feeling we couldn’t eat another thing, the lights went out…

And Dani and Massimo entered with this incredible wine cake with whipped cream and strawberries. Wow!

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After all other customer were gone, Dani, Massimo, Niccolo and Edo were finally able to close the doors and join us. Applause! Applause!

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Many thanks to all, either with me or in my heart, who made my day so special, and a very, very  special thanks to Len. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Molte grazie a tutti, sia con me o nel mio cuore, che ha reso il mio giorno così speciale, e un grazie molto, molto speciale a Len. Una conclusione perfetta di una giornata perfetta!

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Ciao,
Judy

 

 

 

 

 

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