Category Archives: Europe

More information

I got more information from Emma, my soon-to-be boss, as to what I’ll be doing exactly during my internship. She said she focuses mostly on property sales and vacation rentals leaving little time for her to focus on another important aspect: tourism. That will be my main responsibility. I will basically organize trips, create itineraries and connect with resources from other areas for foreigners. She also added that she owns a wine bar which has live music and serves local wine. She wants to take it a step further and use her bar to host weddings and possibly create another kind of tourism (perhaps wine?). That’s where my help and expertise will come in.

I can’t ask for a more ideal internship! This is a perfect fit with what I have learned at ASU in the past two years and what I aspire to do professionally. Organizing trips and planning weddings are among the things I enjoy doing. And wine! I am a wine aficionado. Let me tell you — my taste buds have never tasted wine more tantalizing than that from Calitri!

Also, I have mentioned several times how everyone in Calitri is related, right? Well, my grandfather’s cousin, Maria, is married to Orazio, who turns out to be Emma’s grandfather’s brother! How about that?!

By the way, I learned that I will be without internet access at my flat in Calitri but I will have my own desk (oooh!) at the agency with free Internet access…. so I will definitely be in touch while I’m there!

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Filed under Calitri, Europe, Italy 2009

Internship

I knew about this for a while but I did not want to say anything just yet, in fears that I’d jinx it. But as of today, it is set in stone. I’m going to do what I’ve dreamed to do for a long time — complete my internship abroad.

Not just abroad, but in the very town that my family came from: CALITRI!

I will be working for a tourism agency as well as help out at a wine bar. I will probably leave for Italy right after my final exams on May 12th and then return by August 7th, just in time to be home for the birth of my nephew or niece who is due on the 9th. The woman who I will be working for owns several flats in town and is willing to accommodate me in a small, cozy one for only €200 a month (around $260).

Now, I just need to purchase a flight ticket (I’ll have to figure out how to pay for it!) as well as decide what I should do with my place. My lease is up on March 31st. Should I renew it or keep it and pay rent even if I won’t be there for 12 weeks? And I am going to need to find someone to take care of Siena while I’m gone (god, I’m going to miss her so much). Decisions, decisions.

I never thought in 100 years that this would happen. I have to pinch myself to make sure all this isn’t just a dream.

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Filed under Calitri, Europe

Rough itinerary

I met with Kim tonight to go over our upcoming trip to Europe this February. This is our itinerary so far. Click on the blue placemarks to view more information.

If anyone has any suggestions for places to see or things to do, post them here!

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Remembering San Lupo

Recently, three distant relatives of mine, siblings Vittorio, Mariapaola and Nicoletta Linfante friended me on Facebook. Their roots are in San Lupo where my great-grandmother’s family originated. This brought back memories of my spontaneous adventure to San Lupo.

It was around this time in 2001 that my mom, sister and I made a last minute decision to stop in San Lupo on our way to Rome from Calitri. San Lupo is much more tiny than Calitri in terms of square kilometers and population. In fact, the 2001 census listed only 877 inhabitants.

Getting there was quite a challenge. The village rests on a top of a mountain and the only way to get there was a devilishly narrow, wildly winding, one-way highway (or poorly paved trail, more like!) without a railing. Once we got on the highway, my mom and I glanced at each other warily as if we were saying, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea….” But it was too late to turn back, besides the only way down was to drive backwards!

When we finally reached the town in one piece, we were surprised to see how incredibly tiny it was! I recall maybe only four or five cobbled streets, all of which, except for the main street, were far too tiny for cars to pass through. Another thing we immediately noticed was how lifeless it seemed. All shutters were closed, not one soul walked about, everything was as quiet as death. What a drastic contrast to vibrant Calitri!

San Lupo, photo by Lorenzo Ferrara

San Lupo, photo by Lorenzo Ferrara

Not knowing where else to go, we decided to go to the cemetery that we passed on our scary odyssey up the mountain. While my exhausted sister slept in the car, my mom and I strolled around the cemetery hoping to find any Linfante’s (the family name of her grandmother). We were disappointed to find none until we entered what seemed to be a tiny ossuary located near the entrance. On both sides of the ossuary, there were stacks of hundreds of shoeboxes with people’s names written on the front. Naively thinking that its contents were pictures or personal contents to remember the deceased by, I picked up a shoebox and opened it. Well, curiosity killed the cat. I shrieked and staggered backwards when I discovered nothing but decomposing human bones!

After inspecting the ossuary some more, we discovered a good number of Linfante’s. A shoebox read, “LINFANTE FLORENZIO”, another “LINFANTE ELISA”, another “LINFANTE LUPO”, etc. I was dumbfounded and felt a pang of sadness. Here I was, thousands and thousands of miles away from home in a small, eldritch town in the middle of nowhere, looking at stacks of worn shoeboxes that housed our unknown relatives’ remains. What tough, impoverished lives they must have endured…not being able to afford the luxury of being properly buried.

We decided to return to the town in hopes to find a Sanlupesi and see if our relatives still resided there. We drove around for a little bit until we found a man walking along the street. I pulled over then asked him if he knows of any Linfante’s. He cheerily introduced himself as Domenico Di Libero and said that his grandmother was a Linfante! He then said that there was only one Linfante left, an elderly lady named Antonietta who lived in a neighboring town, Cerreto Sannita. He graciously offered to telephone her and then guide us there.

We followed Domenico out of San Lupo and into Cerreto Sannita to Antonietta Linfante’s flat. My mom and I greeted Antonietta and her husband, an university professor by the name of Daniele Biondi. They were very warm and hospitable, offering us espresso and le caramelle while Antonietta and I chatted, trying to figure out how we were related. It turned out that her grandfather, Lelio Linfante, was a first cousin to my great-great-great-grandfather, Emiddio. A bit distant, but a cousin nonetheless.

We were able to stay for only half an hour as the sun was quickly descending and I did not want to brave the dimly lit A1 highway at night. They sent us off with boxes of le caramelle and a teary embrace.

(By the way, Vittorio, Mariapaola and Nicoletta, who I mentioned in the beginning of this post, are Antonietta’s nephew and nieces.)

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Filed under Europe, Genealogy

zu Deutschland, los gehts!

At 11:30 this morning, I received an email from Travelzoo which read:

PHOENIX–JANUARY 16, 2009– We’ve just uncovered a last-minute fare sale on Orbitz for flights to Frankfurt, Germany, from Phoenix. Fly for just $385 roundtrip — including taxes! This fare normally sells for $600-$1000.

My eyes bulged! I knew right there and then that I had to snatch it before it goes up or, worse, disappears. I asked my friend, Kim, if she wanted to go and the answer was, of course, yes! Within twenty minutes of receiving that notification via email, I purchased tickets for the both of us.

We’ll land in Frankfurt the morning of February 14th where we will stay for a night or two. Then we’ll drive a rented car to Amsterdam for a couple of days before heading to Brussels where I have friends and relatives (many Calitrani emigrated to Belgium from Calitri). After that, we may head to Paris. We return from Frankfurt on the 22nd.

I love spontaneous trips like this.

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Calitrani on Facebook

Sometime in early 2008, I believe, I started a group on Facebook called “Viva Calitri” for people who have roots in, or are fans of, Calitri. To my surprise, people started joining the group within days of its creation.

picture-3Little did I know that a year later, the number of members would explode and reach 1,000. They come from every corner of the world – United States, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, France, England, Iceland, Slovakia, Sweden, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Australia and even Japan!

Remarkable. Yesterday, one calitrano predicted, “1,000 today, 5,000 next year!”

I have personal ties with many of the members in the group and the story behind my ties with two of them is particularly interesting. One is Justin Cerreta, who I went to middle school with. His aunt grew up with my ex-step-mother and his cousins went to school with my sister. Another is Jennifer Zarrilli, who I worked with at a grocery store when I was 16. Back then, we weren’t aware that we were closely related, much less had roots in Calitri! I swear us Calitrani somehow gravitate towards each other.

Siamo ovvunque!

Here is the link to the Calitri group on Facebook if have Facebook and you’d like to join. But chances are you’re already a member!

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Filed under Calitri

Registrazioni di matrimonio

A few days before Christmas, a gentleman in Calitri gave me a wonderful Christmas gift. He sent me a spreadsheet document listing matrimoni (marriages) that occurred in Calitri from 1765 to 1801. He spent every Saturday morning the past year in the Canonica of Chiesa di San Canio (Church of St. Canio) pouring over the ancient church registers, deciphering old Italian script and transcribing each marriage.

In the span of 36 years, 1,548 marriages took place. I’ve spent the last two weeks entering information from this spreadsheet into my family tree program, which in itself is a painstaking task. Thanks to this information, I was able to break down a couple of brick walls in my family tree. For example, my great-great-great-great grandmother, Caterina Grasso, was born sometime in 1774 in Bisaccia, a neighboring town of Calitri. She married Canio Vincenzo Maria Gervasi around 1793, presumably in Bisaccia, and lived the rest of her life in Calitri. I knew her parents were Nicola Grasso and Rosa Ricciardi from Caterina’s death record, which I discovered about a decade ago. I wanted to go back further on that line but my letters to Bisaccia went unanswered. While scanning the spreadsheet, I was thrilled to discover that Caterina’s parents married in Calitri in 1772 and that her mother, Rosa, was from Calitri. I also learned that Nicola’s father was Angelo and that Rosa was the daughter of Giuseppe Ricciardi and Giovanna Di Muro. It appears that Nicola took his wife back to his hometown of Bisaccia after they married and raised their family there. When their daughters, Caterina and Camilla, were old enough, Rosa made arrangements to marry them off to Calitrani men – Caterina to Canio Gervasi and Camilla to Giuseppe Cicoira.

This is what the spreadsheet looks like. Spreadsheet The ones that are highlighted have already been entered in my database, so as you can see, I’m not done yet. I’m hoping to finish by this weekend!

If any of you who have ancestors from Calitri would like information on your ancestors, let me know. Out of respect for the person who sent this, I cannot share the spreadsheet document with anyone as he asked me not to, but I can send you your family tree. He has to get permission from the local Bishop first to publish this information and so far, the Bishop has blatantly ignored his request.

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Filed under Calitri, Genealogy