Sunday, October 4, 2009

Villa Susanna

Villa Susanna

Our next day and a half was spent relaxing. Susie and I stayed at a beautiful Villa. It overlooked the Adriatic Sea. We intended to sit in the sun by the pool, but unfortunately it rained. We didn’t care we were taking a vacation from our vacation. They had a restaurant where we ate all our meals. The food was fabulous. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was even a rain storm with thunder and lightning . We sat on the protected veranda ad enjoyed the view.

During our stay there we met about 10 people who were actually living there. They were from L’Aquila, where the earthquake had occurred. Their homes were destroyed. They were in the process of rebuilding but they said it was a slow process. Our next journey, we would take the train to Venice. The train ride would take about 5 hours from the San Benedetto station. We had breakfast and off we went in a taxi to catch the train.

Stay tune…….

Susie at Villa Susanna

View from our deck at Villa Susanna

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nerito last day

Nerito Last Day

Up fairly early because we wanted to get going. I had a lot of people to meet. Had a little breakfast and there was Uncle Gino waiting to join us. He came over to me and handed me something. I looked at it and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the original letter my father had written. The one I had seen yesterday. He said since I made the trip and he could see how important it was for me to meet the family and see where my Dad was born he wanted me to have the letter. I gave him a huge hug. Again with the tears.

Jean and Tomaso Mazzetta
Alfredo, Albert and Gino were so proud to take me around. We first went to the Riccotti house. This is the house that my grandmother was born in (my dad’s mother). This house is still owned by Carolina Riccotti the woman I had lunch with when I first got to Rome. Along the way we were meeting many Mazzetta cousins. We also met another Tommaso Mazzetta, he is Gina’s brother. Another amazing thing that came up during the visit is a story that was told to us by a cousin, named Irena. Her grandmother and my grandmother were cousins. When my grandmother (Nonie) left to go to the boat with Dad and Ozzie she was taken in a wagon by her father in law. They were to get the boat in Naples. I also found out that the ships name was Rex. When they were loading the wagon she had to many things and one of the trunks would not fit in the wagon. She had to leave the trunk behind. One of the Aunts still has the trunk and written on the inside of the trunk is my grandmothers name, dads name and his date of birth and uncle Ozzie’s name and his date of birth. It also has the time they were born. It was all written in Noni’s hand writing. It was really amazing to see these things.

Jean and Irena with the trunk

My grandfathers birth house

My grandmothers birth house

Nerito is a beautiful place and as we walked around people kept coming out to meet us. Albert told us about how he and Ozzie and Dad would play. He said he remembered it like it was yesterday. He even got tears in his eyes. We then went to the house where my grandfather was born. Right now no one is living in the house. We kept meeting more and more people. We also went by the little store where people shop. I was having a great time.

The grocery store

To my son Nick, after all these years wondering about your blue eyes, most of the Mazzetta’s in Nerito have blue eyes.

The house where Alfredo's best friend lived and he visited as a young boy

Now it was time to go to lunch at Lucia and Mario’s. Lucia was so pleased that we came to her home. A loving feeling came over me every time I was near her. I haven’t figured out what that means yet. Mario had a great sense of humor. Their son Davide and his wife Christina would also be there. Davide was about 40 years old. He is a dental technician. He loves photography and he loves to go hiking. He and his wife speak very little English, but remember we have Maura our translator. We asked her if she was exhausted because of all the translating she had been doing. She of course said she was enjoying it and that it was great to get out in Nerito and meet all the relatives, some she has never really talked to or met. We told her now they will all know who she is and that she is Alfredo’s wife.

Jean random picture in the village

Alfred and Uncle Gino

We again sat down to an incredible dinner. Lucia had made my favorite. Gnocchi. It tasted just like my grandmothers and so did the sauce. She had made the sauce from her tomatoes in the garden. We had a lot of things that were grown in their garden. Also fresh figs off the tree.

We were all sitting around the table talking. They again were so curious about America and asked many questions. Again the big “O” question came up. Obama, what did we think of him and did we like him. Here we go again. What did they think of him? OK,

Yes, we liked him and thought he was doing a good job. They all started clapping their hands and shaking their head yes. Whew! Susie and I thought that was pretty funny.

Front: Maura,Mario,Alfredo,Lucia
Back: Maria,Alfred,Jean,Uncle Gino,Christina,Davide

Walking around the village

I gave them the gifts I had brought from home and gave everyone a picture of my family which they loved. Alfredo kept telling me to send the boys over. He would pat his heart and say he would take care of them. Everyone of course said we were welcome any time. I didn’t want the time to end and neither did they , but it was time to say good bye. This was going to be really difficult. As we said our good byes and hugged each other I really started crying. When Uncle Gino and I hugged we didn’t want to let each other go. The same with Alfred. He was the oldest one there and I think he was thinking of his friends and cousins Tommoso and Ovsaldo . Maria came out and wanted my American phone number. She said sometime when Maura and Alfredo were there they would call me. I couldn’t tell them enough times how much this trip meant to me. I told them I was leaving a piece of my heart with them and that I would be back. Uncle Gino said he would look for my fathers birth certificate.

Alfred and Jean (Maria in the background)

In the car, crying and trying to get a grip. Fulfilling my father’s dream. We have truly both enjoyed the journey back. Now I understand why he always wanted to go back. He was a proud man and never forgot where he came from. He obviously had very fond memories of Nerito. This journey will enrich my life forever and I know I will never forget it.

random picture in village

Random picture in village

Alfred, Susie and Uncle Gino

top of the church taken from Alfred and Maria's home

Maura and Alfredo were to take Susie and I to our hotel in the other Nereto that was about one and a half hours away. We reached our destination an again we had to say good bye. We promised to stay in touch and if they came to the states they were to let us know. Another tearful good bye.

My cousin Alfredo

Since I left Nerito I got an email from Alfredo. Uncle Gino found my fathers birth certificate and is sending it to me. Unbelievable!

Two days of rest at Villa Susanna on the Adriatic Sea coast and then off to Venice.

Stay tune………..

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

First Family Dinner in Nerito

Family Dinner

Such an eventful day. Much laughter and tears. Even though they couldn’t speak English they would communicate through Maura. They wanted to know as much about our family in the States as I wanted to learn about them. They were also just interested in anything that had to do with States. It seemed they couldn’t get enough of it. They also talked about the earthquake and how it affected them. They said they had aftershocks for about 30 days. They were afraid to sleep inside so they slept outside in their cars. Except for Maria, who choose to stay in her home. They were really scared.

Back to Maria and Albert’s for dinner. Marie is little woman. She probably weighs 90 pounds. She didn’t sit at the table with us because she was busy carrying things to the table and just waiting on us. Maura said she does that all the time so we shouldn’t worry about it. We had another wonderful home made Italian dinner with many courses. It was wonderful.

Jean, Alfredo, Albert, Maura, Uncle Gino
After dinner we sat around the dinner table Albert, Maria, Alberto, Maura, Uncle Gino, Susie and I. We sat around and looked at all the pictures I had brought and they brought out some pictures. Albert told stories about when he was young and he would play with Uncle Ozzie and my Dad. He said sometimes he and Ozzie would fight and since my dad was the oldest he would have to watch the young ones and break up the fights.

Mario, Maria, Lucia and Alfredo
After a while Lucia and her husband Mario came over. There was quite a crowd around the dining room table. I felt like I had know them all my life and that I had just come for a visit. It was fun sharing facts about our families and our lives. You could certainly tell everyone was having a great time. Lucia and Mario told us about their children and we were also told that tomorrow we would be going to their house for lunch before we left. Everyone was so welcoming. By this time we were getting pretty tired. It had been a busy day. The train ride form Florence to Rome, the car ride from Rome to Nerito and the flood of emotions of the day. I was drained and ready for some rest. We all said goodnight and that we would continue our stories in the morning.

Stay tune for the next day……..

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finally in Nerito

Nerito (my fathers birthplace)

I am dedicating the next few blogs about Nerito to my father, Tommaso Mazzetta. A loving man, who knew the meaning of family.

Words can not even begin to describe how I feel. The amazing history I found out and the wonderful people I have met. There was a reason I was to take this trip. To meet my extended family which will continue to enrich my life.It was always Dads dream to come back to where he was born and I can now see why. I really felt like he was with me and we were doing this together. This has been a very emotional journey.

Alfredo and Maura picked us up at the train station in Rome and off we went. It took about 2 hours. The drive was beautiful.

Hills and mountains along the way. We went through L’Aquila, where the earthquake happened in May. There still was a lot of visible damage along the way. So many people misplaced from their homes. I was getting so excited the closer we got. We were going to be staying the night at Alfredo’s Mom and Dad’s home in Nerito. Maura said they had a large enough place to accommodate all of us. The weather was perfect, I didn’t expect it to be anything less, (remember my dad was traveling with us). We talked about many things on the way to Nerito and we laughed a lot. Maura said that I reminded her of Alfredo. She said I was a strong woman and that I made up my mind quickly, as does Alfredo. She was comparing things we did the same.

Finally driving up the road to Nerito and stopped in front of Alfredo’s parents home. His mother used to have a gift shop in her home where she also sold ceramics and home décor. Pretty ironic, don’t you think. Maura said she was really good at sales. I was so nervous. Here I was at last. The place my father always wanted to return.

Albert and Maria's House

Little did I know what the next few days would bring me. I continue thinking of my Dad.

The first 2 people I met were Alfredo’s Dad, Alberto and his mother, Maria. Next walked in a man about 67. He had the warmest smile and squeezed me so tight. He was obviously glad I was here. This was Uncle Gino. We were greeted with a very warm Italian welcome with the kiss on each cheek. Tears were already rolling down my face and I just couldn’t stop them. Alfredo’s parents are both 82. None of them could speak English, but it didn't matter. They were so loving and welcoming and you could tell they were so happy to meet me. They were just as excited as I was. They were going to put us up for the night instead of staying at a hotel which was very generous on their part.


Albert, Jean and Uncle Gino

                     Albert, Uncle Gino, Jean,Mario,Maura and Lucia

Then another couple appeared at the backdoor, Lucia Mazzetta Peluzzi & her husband Mario. They were so welcoming, but could not stay to visit. The garden needed their attention and they would be over later in the evening to visit. Gino, Alfredo and Albert were eager to show Susie and I around the Village, so our off we went with our camera‘s and our excellent translator, Maura. We were lost without her. Go learn a second language!!

With in a few feet of Albert’s home, was the Village Church, this is where my father was baptized. A stones throw away was the house my father was born in. The feeling I got when I walked in, I just can't describe. Tears continued and Uncle Gino kept patting my shoulder. This is the house that Uncle Gino lives in today, how appropriate that this special man lives in this home.

My father's birth home

He went upstairs and brought down some old pictures of the family, some of them I also have. Nonie, my Grandmother, must have sent them. They were older photos. He also had made a family tree of the Mazzetta family from the beginning. But the most incredible thing he showed me was a letter. My father had written the letter on June 6, 1930. He had just settled in Highwood, Il after being on the boat for 25 days traveling from Naples, Italy to Ellis Island, NY with his mother and Ozzie. He was 9 years old and he had written the letter to his Uncle. I just couldn't believe my eyes. Maura translated the letter for me.

At the end of the letter he said to say hi to all his cousins and named them all. I met a few of them! Next we went to the house where my father lived as a child. Gina Mazzetta Savini lives in the house now with her husband, Antonio. She is about 72. Everyone was so welcoming, new faces continued to appear as we shared family stories. It was a celebration with my newly discovered family.
My father's childhood home

Gina Mazzetta(Black shirt and white scarf )and Family in my father's childhood home

Stay tune for my 1st Family Dinner in Nerito….

Mazzetta Street

Check this out! We found this street on the map in Florence. Another sign my father is with us.He keeps following us. It's Mazzetta street. Had to get a picture.

Day two in Florence

Day two in Florence

We all had tickets to get into the Academia (where the David is located). We decided to leave at 10:30 and do a little sightseeing along the way. Susie had a little stuffy nose but decided to go.

Oh, the hoards of people! So many tour groups. We walked and walked and saw many interesting sites along the way. We went to the Cathedral At the Piazza del Duomo, we also saw Giotto’s bell Tower and Loggia Del Bigallo. The Loggia is a late gothic building. They are all magnificent buildings. Many, many shopping areas to go back to.

Finally arrive at the Academia, we only waited a few minutes to get in. Susie was not feeling well by this time so she walked around for awhile and then sat in the room where the David of Michelangelo statute was. What an amazing statute. It is so much bigger than you think. You really need to see this in person. It is magnificent. Of course there is no picture taking. We then finished viewing the rest of the museum and walked back outside.

Susie wasn’t feeling well at all by this time. She decided she really needed to go back to the apartment. We found a taxi for her, and told her to call when she got there.

Patti, Shunji, Bob and I decided to have lunch at a little café. We heard from Susie as we where finishing lunch and she was going to have a riposare (Italian afternoon rest). Now that we knew she was settled in, we continued exploring. It was a great day and we had a wonderful time.

Next we went to the Piazza Santa Croce, there is a beautiful Basilica there. There was also the school of leather where they make beautiful leather goods. It really isn’t marked how to get there, but Bob had been there before and remembered how to get to the entrance. They had some beautiful leather goods, but the prices were quite high. You could watch some of the students making things. It was quite interesting. We then did more shopping down the many streets. It was getting to be late afternoon. Shunji and Bob decided to take a taxi back to the apartment, Patti and I decided we were going to walk back. We wanted to go over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. I had heard there was great shopping. Oh, the hoards of people keep coming. The bridge was lined with beautiful shops and we of course did some shopping along the way. Patti and I finally made it back to the apartment.


Susie was feeling better by this time after four hours of sleep. I showed her something I had bought for my sister and she wanted to go back to that one shop and get something for her sister. So we rushed back. We made it just before the shop was closing.

Earlier in the day we decided we were all going to eat together in the apartment. Susie had brought a gift to Shunji of that pecci pasta and a bottle of wine from Montepulciano. Lisa (Susie’s cousin) had told us about a place where we could buy some baked chicken and some other take out things. While Shunji was at the apartment cooking we went and bought our take out baked chicken and of course we had to buy tiramisu for dessert.

When we returned, the table was set and we were ready for an evening of good food, good drink and being with great friends in Florence.

Susie and I were going to leave for Rome on the 8:30 train. Remember, we were going to meet back up with Alfredo and Maura at the rail station in Rome and continue our exciting journey to Nerito with our private translator and tour escort. We have been treated like royalty by my family. They have been nothing but wonderful. Why did we decide to make it so early?

Up early, lugging down Grande Bertha down along with the rest of our luggage. In Italy it only take 10 minutes to get a taxi. I called half hour before we were ready to leave and they said to call back 10 before we want the taxi. That was kind of scary, because we needed to be to the station on time. While we were waiting Shunji brought us down some coffee. What a great friend!

P.S. Susie wants to open a bed and breakfast with Shunji.

Stay tune for the trip to Nerito…….