After 24 hours of a bus ride, two flights, and a lot of waiting, I’m finally home from my first ever trip to Europe. And it was quite an experience. First off, it would not have been possible, or nearly as rewarding, without the generosity and enthusiasm of my cousin Maria, with whom I stayed for two weeks in Pescara. I enjoyed wonderful home-cooked meals, beautiful tours of the countryside, and interesting stories about our ancestors in the old days as contadini nella campagna.
Friday, November 6th –
We hit up several comuni all in the first day. First was Rosciano, where we stopped to pick up a few boxes of wine. We drank this delicious red wine with every meal for two weeks.
Next we ventured into Nocciano, one of the two primary towns I’ve been researching. This is where the di Meco, Scardetta, di Virgilio, etc. families come from. Since the goal was to get into the parrocchia to see the old records, we stopped and asked some people when mass at San Lorenzo was, and found out that it’s 6:30 pm that evening, but we managed to find plenty of things to do in the area until then.
From there we traveled through Cugnoli into Civitaquana (and I found out I’ve actually been pronouncing Cugnoli wrong this whole time – it’s actually COON-yo-lee). We stopped and looked through the town a bit and came across Santa Maria delle Grazie, the parrocchia there which was also of interest. The mass there was 8am the next morning, so nothing we could do at the moment to get in.
We stopped for lunch at “La pizzeria Ginestre”, a little restaurant outside the center of Civitaquana, on the way to Catignano. It was a delicious meal of ravioli and lamb, alongside, of course, a few glasses of wine. There were about 50 tables set up inside but no more than 5 other people eating there. Even throughout the day, the towns seemed to be dead. I know people tend to take a break from work from 2-4pm but you think there’d still be a few people milling about!
After lunch we made a brief stop in Catignano and took some pictures. The street leading into the center was narrow and on the side of a hill (as most streets were) and there was some construction going on. We didn’t go into the parrocchia in Catignano, but knowing that several ancestors were from Catignano (of the families Recchia and Cetrano), I imagine a future trip to Italy will involve a stop at San Giovanni Battista (more on the records later!).
Went back to Civitaquana and got a few more beautiful pictures on the way, including some very old, abandoned houses.
We spent about an hour walking around the cemetery in Civitaquana. In my head, the cemetery would be filled with small, eroded gravestones with little to no information, no more than 20 or 30. I was pleasantly surprised. Indeed, the center of the cemetery was consisted of graves for those who died in the early 1900s, some were illegible and some weren’t marked at all. But there were walls and mausolea throughout with beautiful headstones, inscriptions, flowers, and candles for the more recent deaths. It’s amazing to see all the names that I come across in the research, and to know that almost all of these people are somehow related to me!
It was almost 6:30pm, so we drove back to Nocciano and, after stopping in a pastry shop to get some cookies, waited outside Chiesa di San Lorenzo until the mass started. Eventually a few folks and the priest showed up, and before the mass started, the priest came over to speak with my cousin and I. When we told him we were here to look at records for research, he gave us the contact information for the priest at the Diocesan Archive in Penne, since San Lorenzo only has books 1900 and later. This was a huge step, and got me very hopeful that the remainder of the trip would produce some amount of success in searching for the right church records.
We returned to my cousin’s apartment in Pescara after a long and amazing day of seeing the countryside, and visiting many of the towns that I have explored so thoroughly through the civil records. Stay tuned for more on the quest for records that we undertook over the last two weeks!