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JOURNAL OF THE ABRUZZO WORLD CLUB
Quest for Italian Relatives, a true story
Written by AunteEm3 aol.com, no names are given for privacy reasons. Translated by Elena Foresti.
My grandfather came to America in 1926. He brought with him his new wife and child (my grandmother and aunt). While in America he had 6 more children and rarely spoke of the life he left behind. My mother was his second born, and she and the others have said that their father had no siblings, as he never spoke of anyone. My mother and her 6 siblings thought their grandmother had passed away prior to 1926 as their father never spoke of his wife. My mother and her siblings were sure there were no relatives left behind in the village of Schiavi di Abruzzo.
I worked for 30 years for a company and recently retired. All my life I have wanted to see Italy and visit the place of my grandparents, (all 4 of my grandparents migrated from Italy) but work kept me from searching. After I retired I began to search the Internet and used the web site "ancestry.com" to try to locate anyone with the same last name as my grandfathers. To my surprise I found thousands of people in Italy with the same last name. I further searched to find 32 people in Schiavi di Abruzzo with the same last name. (It took hours to look at all the thousands of names to find the 32 in Schiavi.) My husband and I decided to take a tour of Italy with a tour company and then on our own try to find relatives. Our plan was to knock on doors of those names we found in the Internet. We drove to Abruzzo and began asking directions to Schiavi. We were directed to go up a mountain. We drove up and up and finally arrived at the village.
My husband speaks Italian and at the first house we stopped in the village, he got out of the car. A man was working in the vineyards and my husband approached him. My husband explained our quest to find my grandfathers family, and to our great delight the man in the vineyard started shouting, "mi cugina, mi cugina." Yes, the first man we met in Schiavi was my grandfathers cousin. Within minutes their were people from the village surrounding us and they were ALL relatives. It was so wonderful. They showed me my grandfathers property (which had been turned over to them many many years ago). They showed me the house my grandfather lived in as a child, and to our delight, we discovered that my grandfather had a sister whose son (now 80 years old) was still living in the village. We had the chance to meet him and his children. The village has very few homes, and most of them turned out to be relatives.
We ate, we drank, we shared stories of the family in Italy and in America. We stayed with them (as they would not let us leave) for a few days. I hated to leave them. We all cried when we were leaving, and they begged my husband not to take me. Although, Italy was a beautiful site, there is nothing that can compare to the feeling of finding your roots, walking the streets your family walked, seeing how they lived, and discovering why you are who you are. My relatives are now coming to America. They have never been out of Italy, and barely out of the village, yet at 74 years old and older, they are coming to visit my mother and her siblings. I encourage everyone to search for their roots. Finding them has changed our lives.