Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Friends

When I started writing this blog three years ago, it was a way for me to keep in touch with a few friends and family who might be interested in this new life experiment I was undergoing.  Posting it on my Facebook page allowed for those people to get quick updates on what was happening in our little corner of Italy.  It was also a way for me to remember events that might get lost in the shuffle otherwise.  My brain, never known for its grasp on details, has gotten more and more like the "scolapasta" that drains our macaroni every day...full of holes!
As time has gone on, I have come to realize that Italian-Americans are very interested in their roots here in the boot, and that there is no small number of folks who can trace their lineage to Cervinara.  It was a hard life here a hundred years ago, and many families decided to pull up roots and head to the greener pastures of the USA, Canada, South America or Australia.  Many left to find work and eventually came back to their home, but more left and never returned.  I am finding that this blog has some interest for the descendants of those immigrants and it has put me in touch with many people who want to read and learn about the home of their ancestors.
Today, I met some of these folks and, for the first time, I realize that maybe my writings have some value besides some simple updates. 
We were upstairs doing some chores this morning when we heard a loud knocking on our metal "portone", the big gate that closes our compound off from the street.  There was Virginia Raviele, a neighbor from around the corner, obviously somehow related to us but certainly not a close relative.  She had received a phone call from a hotel in Sorrento where one of my blog followers was staying.  They were leaving Sorrento today and planned to come up to Cervinara to look around.  They new my name, had the hotel concierge look in the phone book to find us and Virginia was as close as they could get.
Thank goodness for GPS, because we aren't easy to find, but around 11 am, there they were!  JoAnn, Phil, Donny and Cheryl....whom I had been in touch with via email but had never met.  Phil's dad left Cervinara with his parents in 1918 when he was seven years old.  From that time until this, none of the family had ever been back!  Almost 100 years had passed since his dad, who passed away three years ago at the age of 98, had walked these streets!
We were thrilled to meet them.  Mike took them down to the cemetery (closed, unfortunately) to look around for familiar names, then up the mountain to the chestnut groves and the Mafariello Springs.  I stayed behind and whipped up some lunch  that we enjoyed under the arches of our courtyard.  Word spread very quickly throughout the neighborhood that new folks had arrived.  Pasqualino, one of our neighbors, stopped by with two bottles of very tasty wine.  Cousin Antonietta came over to meet our new friends.  We showed her the documents that Phil had brought, including birth certificates and marriage certificates of his grandparents and his father and mother.  She didn't know the names but said she would get her circle of friends to start checking around to try to find any distant cousins.  Bertuccio stopped by to share a glass of beer as he took a break from clearing the field next door. 
At church this evening, everyone was abuzz, wanting to know who had come and what they thought of the town.  I was so pleased to have been able to show these lovely folks even a bit of the charm of this town, and all the ladies were happy to know that their neighborhood had "passed inspection". 
Phil and the rest of the group left after lunch, on their way north for more sightseeing and visiting.  But I think that their day in Cervinara will be a memorable one.  I know it will be for Mike and me.  We have already started talking about next year when I hope that the gang will have a little more time to explore and enjoy this place we love so much. 
So now, I feel that my little blog has done something besides keep our friends updated on our lives here.  I feel that perhaps it has helped to change some lives, and that makes me very happy. 
Phil, JoAnn, Donny and Cheryl....Thanks for a great day!  Happy travels!


  1. Love this post Dot! I feel like I am reading a story-book - 100 years since their family had last step foot in your little town. I am always lamenting the perils of the internet, but this is such a great example of how blogging can enrich our lives!

  2. This was wonderful. The internet much more so than T.V. ever did is making us a global village.

  3. Dorothy...we're coming back as soon as we can and will stay for awhile to do research on my grandparents..Thank you so much for you hospitality while we were at your home...Phil DeNitto (pdenitto@aol.com

  4. Dorothy. Great article and thanks for taking such good care of my cousin Phil and his family. I lived with my Grandfather for 21 years in the same house (Brooklyn,NY), that he ultimately settled in, raised his family, and died in. My father was his youngest. I'll have to pay you folks a visit if I ever get back to Italy. I find it exciting thinking about walking the same streets that my ancestors once walked.
    Steve DeNitto(sdenp51d@aol.com)