I’m glad that the last blog was ‘meaty’. That’s kind of the problem with blogging. Sometimes shit just doesn’t happen and there’s nothing to say. I actually pondered penning a few entries to hold in reserve for just such occasions. I did miss quite a few blog-worthy events when I was on hiatus. ‘My Medieval Cataract Surgery courtesy of those jihadists at the NHS’ is a good example. (I’ll start working on that one.)
But the Italians came through with blogoney. (I just coined a new word! Baloney for the Blog = Blogoney!) Viva Italia!
It’s that time again. Actually, in Italia, it seems to always be that time. Yes, we’re having another election.
I got a letter from Italia in the post. Of course, I couldn’t read it. A teensy part of me always worries that the paisons will take back my citizenship because I’m not quite Italian enough. No. Google translate and me figured out that they weren’t demanding the Magical Passaporto Rosso back by return post. Its just election time again. My friend, Ray, was over and graciously offered to translate the letter. I know. Why does my English Jewish friend Ray speak Italian and I don’t? Because. That’s all I’m saying on that subject. Oh, yeah. He speaks Hebrew, too. Give him a gold magen david.
In one whole page of gobbledygook, it explained that we Italians are electing deputies to the Senate and the Republic at some future date, when they get around to it. Just kidding. The election is on February 24 and 25, 2013. It takes two days because the ballot is 1700 pages long.
This part is really good. The elections are being handled by the Il Popolo della Liberta, or the People of Liberty Party, whose catchy slogan is ‘Always at hand for Italians throughout the world’. I did not make that up. And I’m not real sure that I am a member of the Il Popolo della Liberta. I might be a Partito Democratico, or a Rivoluzione Civile, or a Partito Communista, although I’m pretty sure I’m not that last one. We all know I don’t like sharing. Anything.
However, voting is not a problem for me now in the slightest. In the past, I’ve just checked which candidates were the hottest looking and voted accordingly. This time, I just pushed ‘hold’ and rang mia cugina Maria in Colli a Volturno and inquired ‘Yo! Who are we voting for?’ Facile!
Which brings me to the point of this blog.
Did I mention that I visited my homeland (the other one) and my commune?
Well. While I wasn’t blogging, I went on a cruise – two weeks in the Med on Holland America with a friend. I know Dead Jerry was really jealous; we had a snarky conversation about it at 3:00 AM. one morning. (Tallit and yarmulke = grumpy dead guy)
I haven’t lost my Travel Agent touch. Our flights were perfect, our suite was gorgeous, and HAL is still superb. I was born to be waited on hand and foot. I see these commercials on TV here for Royal Caribbean. The tag line is: ‘Nine out of ten people would choose Royal Caribbean for their next cruise’. I’m the tenth person. It’s so mass market and not nearly Jappy enough.
Our ports included Sicily, Greece, and in Italia, Venezia, Roma and Napoli. I know I’ve been to all of those places before, but the cruise included sunshine, more sunshine and temperatures of 90°, none of which are available in England.
And since Napoli was one of our ports, this was a perfect opportunity to visit Colli a Volturno, my ancestral home. Through Facebook, I’d managed to locate my cousin, Maria, who’d moved back to Colli from Philly in the ‘70s. We had been inseparable as teens, but lost touch after she went back.
I have to begin with my arrival in Venezia because it was a momentous occasion. That’s where we boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam. Yeah, yeah, Venice is a gorgeous city… the canals, St. Mark’s Square, the shopping, blah, blah, blah. Been there, done all that many times before.
However, Venezia will forevermore be a special place because it was the first time ever I entered Italy as an Italian citizen. Yes, I handed over the Magical Passaporto Rosso and the officer said: “Buon giorno”, which I understood, and then something else long and complicated in fricking Italiano, which I didn’t. Why do they always do that to me?
I smiled Sweet Smile #4 (one of the nice ones, not the snotty ones), and he asked “Do you even speak Italian, dual citizenship really an American person?” in English.
“I’m studying it” I informed him. “And I’m here specifically to visit all 1300 of my Incollingo relatives who live in Colli a Volturno, Isernia.” It was sort of the truth.
When we docked in Napoli, my car and driver, Lido, were waiting for me. It was an hour and 45 minutes from the Port of Naples to Colli. Plus about 20 minutes, back-tracking when Lido got lost. He said he was stopping to go to the bathroom, but I knew he taken a wrong turn on one of those twisty little mountain roads and was frantically trying to figure out where the hell we were.
When we finally arrived in Colli, I was jumping with excitement. I rang cousin Maria, who sent her grand-daughter to meet us and direct us to her house.
We hugged and cried, and hugged some more. Fortunately, her English is still pretty good, because no one in her family speaks it. Her husband, son, daughter, and 2 grand-daughters were all there to meet the American cousin.
Naturally, I wanted to see my town, so Maria and I went for a stroll. I saw great grandpop’s Butcher Shop (it’s not a Butcher Shop anymore; there’s now a Carrefore in Colli). We knocked at the door of the flat there and I met cousin Carmela, who is married to the grandson of grandpop’s youngest brother. Then we visited the Church where great-grandpop and great grandmom got married. I saw their entry in the registry.
Then it was off to the Town Hall, where even I am registered! I asked to see it. The clerk obligingly showed me my name in the Book of 1300.
We stopped for a coffee; more distant relatives own the little bistro. We went to the bakery, and naturally, they are cousins, too. These cousins swear I look exactly like an Incollingo. Naturally, everywhere we stopped, they fed us.
Then it was back to Maria’s house for a huge meal, and I mean huge. She even made bracchiole in my honor. At the dessert and coffee stage, people started turning up. Lots of them. And they’re all my relatives. None of them spoke English, but from what I gathered, they were all descendants of grandpop’s brothers. Lots of hugging and an obscene amount of kissing.
I wanted to go to the cemetery but we did not have time. Lido was worried about traffic back to Naples, so all told, I had about 5 hours in Colli.
I had brought a few family pictures with me, including the one of the four cousins we took on one of my visits home. Maria only remembered Joanne, who was closest in age to us. And for some strange reason, she vividly remembers my Aunt Tootsie. Aunt Tootsie was quite a character.
Cousin Joey Incollingo from Quebec, Canada (another Facebook find) sent me some details on his Colli relatives, and the Incollingos from Huntington Valley whom Licence and Blood Relative know provided theirs, but no luck. Since practically everybody in Colli is an Incollingo (92% of the 1300 residents) and they all have the same first names, it is impossible to figure out who is related to whom.
I even met an Incollingo in Colli who grew up at 6th and Erie. We didn’t remember each other from the old neighbourhood, although I did know his sister.
Me: “My great-grandfather was Domenico Incollingo.” Him: “So was mine.” Me: “He married Amalia Santilli.” Him: “Mine married Angelina Croce.” So, not the same Domenico, unless he was an Italian cloud (a big-a mist).
I am definitely going to go back and stay longer and do some family history research; hopefully, this spring. Five hours was ridiculously short, but I couldn’t not visit if I was in Italy.
Meanwhile, I faithfully call mia cugina every week now. I want to keep that connection going. After all, she is familiare and io sono Italiano.