We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meeting my Italian family!

For years when I was growing up my mother would talk about the family she left back in Italy. We've heard names, and know a few sparse details, but really that side of the family has always been a blank page. A big mystery.  I never thought in a million years that I would ever get to meet these strangers across the Atlantic ocean.

In 2007, the year before we moved here, I got the chance to briefly meet a few of my mother's relatives for the very first time, face to face.  My two sisters and I had brought my mother over to Italy to celebrate her 80th birthday, which included stops in both Caserta, where my mother's mother grew up and had family, and also in the La Spezia/Cinque Terre area, home of my mother's father. 

Since I moved, I've made many trips to La Spezia and Cinque Terre. I've gotten to know my Italian grandfather's side of the family who still live in that area fairly well.  Finding my Italian family has been one of life's great surprises for me.  I think all Italian-Americans wonder about their relatives back in Italy and have a huge desire to find them, meet them, become part of the family.  I'm one of the lucky ones who has done that.

While I've spent lots of time with my Nonno's (grandfather) family, I have not gotten to know my Nonna's (grandmother) people.  That will change this weekend. My husband Mike and I are going to Sorrento to attend a meeting. Sorrento is only about 2 hours from where my family is in Caserta. Too close to not go visit.  I had a phone number and email address of Cousin Enzo, so I wrote a little email explaining I'd be nearby and would like to see as many family members as possible while I was there.  Enzo jumped on it and organized a family dinner for Monday, January 24. 

Enzo isn't actually my cousin.  Technically, he is my mother's second cousin.  So what is he to me?  Second cousin once removed?  I think that's it.  Darned if I know.  Doesn't matter. It's his generation that is left, and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to get to know them. I have met Enzo before, briefly as I said. The last time we saw each other, he and his mother, Zia Maria, ran into the Caserta train station to say hello to my mother, sisters and I as we were changing trains there.  He handed us a plastic bag filled with mozzarella nd tomato sandwiches he had made us for lunch, which we ate on the train headed to Rome.  I'm thinking I should ask him to bring me a few more this weekend!

This side of the family speaks almost no English, so it's going to be alot of fun trying to communicate.

8 comments:

Michelle said...

Ciao Karen/Margaret,
Remember, your Italian got better in the hospital so you shouldn't have trouble communicating. Or at least trying to communicate.
Have a delightful time at your family dinner...I'm sure you will.
Michelle

BaileyZimmerman said...

Oh what a wonderful experience!!
Have a wonderful time!

Rob C said...

Karen, you'll be fine, don't down play your Italian!

We had to meet up with my Wife's Aunt & Cousins whilst in Venice for Christmas.

There was very little English spoken, and no-one had told the cousins I understand quite a bit of Italian so when they were ordering for me (i.e. He'll have the ....) I was able to steer the waiter away from the hugely overpriced filleto they wanted to spoil me with :-)

I have a problem with other languages, I've relearned basic French at least three time, I have to speak a second European language for work and have passed an interview in French but really struggle EXCEPT in Venice, If I'm asked a question in Italian I answer in French, no problem.

Maybe in Paris I'll reply in Italian!

Rob

Yvonne said...

This should be such a warm gathering. It is so nice to follow the expanding embrace of your Italian roots. How good that you made that move.

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful to read your blog. You are doing things (not including surgery) that most of us dream about! Meeting family and getting to know your roots - things that many of us in U.S. are searching for.

Val

LindyLouMac said...

You may even be meeting with your family as I type, how exciting.

karen said...

LindyLouMac-
How did you guess? We just met cousin Pietro, who runs the family caffe, which has been in the family for 100 years!
I remember my mother talking about Pietro's
Uncle Vincentino who baked all the pastries for the shop. Imagine how thrilled I was 45 minutes ago to be drinking my own cup of tea right there at the same counter!

In about a half hour, Cousin Enzo is picking us up at the hotel to go have dinner.

I am sure I'll have some fun tomorrow blogging about my latest adventure. I'm also hoping someone remembers to bring some old family photos! I'm excited to put faces to some names I've grown up with.

karen said...

LindyLouMac-
How did you guess? We just met cousin Pietro, who runs the family caffe, which has been in the family for 100 years!
I remember my mother talking about Pietro's
Uncle Vincentino who baked all the pastries for the shop. Imagine how thrilled I was 45 minutes ago to be drinking my own cup of tea right there at the same counter!

In about a half hour, Cousin Enzo is picking us up at the hotel to go have dinner.

I am sure I'll have some fun tomorrow blogging about my latest adventure. I'm also hoping someone remembers to bring some old family photos! I'm excited to put faces to some names I've grown up with.