It was my first trip to Italy. I was scarcely 19, a sophomore at Northern Arizona University and anxious to meet my newly-found relatives in Calitri. My friend from college, Megan, and I first explored Rome then Torino, Milano, Firenze, Siena and Napoli before spending the remainder of our three-week vacation in Calitri. My family in Calitri and I were overcome with emotion when we were reunited. Tears flowed again the day we had to leave.
Vito Michele, Cinzia, Me, Margherita & Meg Graves
Michele and Cinzia
Tania, Meg, me, Cinzia, Michele, Antonio and Michela at Gulliver Pub
Cinzia, Margherita, me and Meg
Meg, me, Iolanda Gervasi and Cinzia Gervasi
Me, Michele, Antonio, Vito Michele, Francesco, Angela, Michela, Margherita & Cinzia
My grandma and grandpa, holding a flask, a gift from Vito Michele Gervasi
After seeing the pictures I took from my trip and hearing all about it, my mom and 16-year-old sister, Pamela, longed to visit Calitri and discover their roots. Also, Italy, particularly Calitri, left such an impression on me. I was dying to go back. So it was decided that the three of us would go together to Europe for three weeks. After landing in Roma, we went straight for Calitri where we spent a couple of days, then headed to San Lupo (where my great-grandma’s family came from), Roma, Firenze, Venezia, Geneva (Switzerland) and Nice (France).
Me, my sister Pamela, my mother, Antonio, Cinzia and Iolanda outside Gulliver Pub
Enzo, son of Peppino, my grandfather's cousin
Mom, me, Iolanda, Vito Michele, Margherita, Cinzia, my sister Pamela
The Gervasi Family: Iolanda, Cinzia, Margherita and Vito Michele.
Mom, me, Michele, Cinzia, Iolanda and Vito Michele
Four years was much too long, I decided. Not a single day passed without me thinking of Calitri and the desire to go back became more intense by the day. One day, while I was bored at work, I browsed online for airfare tickets and dreaming….until I came across a good deal: $500 roundtrip from Phoenix to Rome!!! I told my friends, Kim, Ramin and Aimee, of this. They had never been to Europe and jumped at the chance.
We spent two weeks driving all over Italy, from Roma straight to Vicenza then Venezia, Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena, Firenze, Cortona, Montepulciano, Roma, Frosinone, Pompeii and Calitri. Today, when I ask them what their favorite part of the entire trip was, they would say without hesitation, “Calitri!” Of course.
Vito Michele holding up a glass of homemade (his) wine
Vito Michele, me, Aimee and Kim. I was translating, or attempting to, from Italian to ASL for my friends -- not an easy feat!
Kim, AImee, Angela, Francesco, Margherita and Ramin.
Antonietta and Giovanna, owners of Bar Corso on Via Corso.
My sister had just married the year before and is starting a family soon. I was wrapping up my last year of college. We both wanted to go on a trip together, one last trip, before our lives got too busy.
It was a dizzying trip…four countries in mere nine days! We started in Munich, then Salzburg, Milano, Zürich and back to Munich. We so wanted to go to Calitri but time and money did not permit us. However, Vito Michele’s daughters, Cinzia and Iolanda, as well as Cinzia’s husband, Michele, live in Milano so we paid them a visit. We were touched when we learned that Vito Michele and his wife, Margherita, made the last minute decision to venture eight hours north by train to Milano to see Pamela and I.
My sister holding Francesco
Me holding little Francesco
Le frutte e i dolci
Vito Michele, Margherita and their grandchild, Francesco
Iolanda and Cinzia
Vito Michele and Pamela
Vito Michele, Pamela, me and Margherita
The entire family
To be continued…