When Greg and I were getting to know each other, I asked him about his ancestry. I’ve been doing family research for years and I wondered about his family tree. He explained to me that his mom’s side of the family was fairly well researched … and family members have kept good records.
His dad’s side of the family was another story. He knew his dad was the son of Italian immigrants, but he didn’t have a lot of information about his Grandmom and Grandpop. He had some wonderful stories, but no real history other than the name of the town they were from in Italy — Vasto.
When I asked him to tell me what it’s like, he shrugged and said he’d never been there. In fact, he’d never been to Italy at all! I was shocked. As a traveler, Italy is one of my favorite places. (The fact that I was stationed there for a few years may have something to do with that.) So … on Valentine’s weekend in February 2013, I surprised him with a trip to see the town where his grandparents grew up.
We spent two days wandering around, just looking at the town and wondering what it was like in the early 1900s. We had no idea where they lived, which of many churches in town was the one they married in, or whether there are still any relatives in Vasto.
Fast forward ten years … Greg’s cousin has done some amazing research and has addresses and specifics for Maria del Borello and Antonio Romano. When we were planning our trip to Italy this year, we knew we had to go back to Vasto.
We were armed with addresses and the name of the church, so on a hot June day, we parked the car and walked the streets of the historic city center to find the childhood homes of Greg’s grandparents. The addresses have changed over the years, so we aren’t absolutely certain we had the exact house correct, but we knew we were on the right block.
We realized they lived less than five minutes walk from each other, passing by the church which is the one where they wed.
We walked from one home to the other, videoing the mere four minute route … and imagining a couple a hundred years ago walking there, hand-in-hand, falling in love.
It was a magical afternoon traveling the roads once walked by earlier generations of family.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Part of the adventure is exploring your past.
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