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Italy 2004 Trip Report - Sant'Eufemia a Maiella and Roma
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Dear Family,
     This is the third installment on my journal of our trip to Italy. We left Betty’s hometown of San Pietro to drive to Patsy’s hometown of Sant’Eufemia. It was about an hour and a half away going through the mountains, but we took our time, savoring our couple of hours of freedom, and arrived about five hours later. [We drove via Castel di Sangro, Pescocostanzo, S. Antonio, Passo Leonardo, Campo di Giove and Roccacarmanico. Giuliano and Rosalba drove as far as Castel di Sangro with us. They helped us find a bank and an internet café where we sent our first email to our families.]

View north as we went over Passo Leonardo on the way to Sant'Eufemia

    When Pasquale lived in Sant’Eufemia, it was all farming. Now it is a tourist town in the middle of the Maiella National Park. We stayed in a large house with Mark’s cousin, Maria Pantalone and her husband, Domenico diGiovine. They are ages 74 and 72 respectively. They live in Boston most of the time, but come for two or three months to Sant’Eufemia each year. [We had some trouble finding the house as Mark wrote down the wrong house number on Via Roma. We eventually figured it out.]

Here is Domenico diGiovine in front of  his house at Via Roma 159.

    Domenico spoke English pretty well; Maria not as well. I do not know why the focus of Italian life is eating, but gathering around a large meal socially seems to be what is done. Maria would cook way more than we could eat and then wonder why we weren’t eating more. They took us to two restaurants while we were there. All the food was very good, just too much!

Mark with Maria and Domenico

Maria cooking homemade spaghetti.

     [After dinner, we walked around town. Saw the church and the municipio. Sant’Eufemia is on the slopes of Mt Maiella. On the other side of the valley is Mt Morrone.]

Mt. Maiella (taken from Roccacarmanico) Sant'Eufemia is on the left across the valley.

Mt. Morrone (taken from outside of Sant'Eufemia)

Church of Saint Bartolomeo, built in 1653


Inside the Church

     [On Saturday, Domenico joined us for a drive via Pacentro to Sulmona. Sulmona is the nearest large town. They had a big market in the town square. We bought a USA Today there - our first English news in a week.]

Pacentro - Built on a ridge line high over a valley.

Street Market in Sulmona

    [We drove back via Popoli where there was a fish restaurant that Domenico wanted to take us to on Sunday. We we returned, we learned that Leonia Pantalone had stopped by to visit. Leonia is the daughter of Frank "The Strongman" Pantalone who is honored in a web site developed by Kristi (Petro) Niedzwiecki. Kristi had been in Italy in 2003 to visit Leonia. We were lucky, she was still in town (she lives in Chieti) and stopped by later that day.]

Leonia Pantalone and Mark

    [In the afternoon, Domenico took us to see Mark’s father’s old house. The house has been completely renovated is being rented out as a summer home.]

Mark at the door to his father's old house.

Back of the house

Front of the house

Basement of the house
[We visited the church, S. Bartolomeo. That evening, we met Tony Crivelli and his wife Joann who now live in Australia. He was going to Aliquippa later to visit a cousin, Teddy diCosmo. Later, we met Angela Crivelli DiNardo and her daughters, Carla and Linda. They also live in Australia. Angela is descendant from the sister of my grandfather.]

Mark and Maria with the DiNardo's from Australia.
Linda on left, Angela Crivelli DiNardo and Carla DiNardo

     Sunday, August 15th, was Italy’s biggest holiday, “The Feast of the Assumption.” We went to Catholic Church service with Maria and Domenico; the church was crowded like church at home on Easter Sunday. The normally quiet mountain town of Sant’Eufemia was packed with visitors. [Most of whom just parked on the sidewalk or at least half on the sidewalk and half on the road.] There are many picnic areas around and Italian people came up from the hot cities to the cooler mountainous area for a holiday family picnic.

After church on Sunday : Domenico, Mark, Sally, Maria, Angela diNardo, Libby and John DiVecchio

     [For dinner, we drove to Popoli to that restaurant that we visited the day before. Through some mixup, it was closed when we got there. We ended up eating at a very nice restaurant in S. Antonio. Sally had fish.]

Maria, Sally, Mark and Domenico

     [On Monday, we drove to Pescara. Pescara is a seaside town (like San Diego) on the eastern coast of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. It was a pretty easy drive, about an hour, half of that on the autostrada. Parking was hard to find but eventually we did. We walked along the beach and had lunch.]

Sally wading in the Adriatic Sea

Sally on the beach - we really looked like tourists!

     Mark spent time at both San Pietro and Sant’Eufemia at the church and the “municipio” (city hall) researching his family tree. The church in San Pietro had records back to the 1600's. We also visited both cemeteries.
     [On Tuesday, we talked with John (Giovanni) and Libby (Liberata) DiVecchio. They are from Illinois. John was born in the USA but moved with his parents to Sant’Eufemia when he was three. John and Libby are the parents of Gene DiVecchio, an Internet correspondent of Mark. Mark also met the children of Maria Felicia DiVecchio, a cousin. She was the sister of two DiVecchio’s who lived in Aliquippa. I met two men, Raffaele Timperio and Nicola Timperio who both remembered my father.]

Raffaele Timperio
Raffaele is one year younger than my dad, born in 1918. He remembered playing with dad the day before he left for the US.
Nicola Timperio
Nicola lived across the street from dad's house. He was born in 1914 and spent 6 years in Canada. He went to the US in 1963 and saw my Uncle Tony. He said he saw my dad at the house when he was there in 1976 but did not recognize him. He remebered later.

    [Also on Tuesday, Mark and Domenico spent time in the Municipio looking at old civil records and in the Cemetery looking for ancestors. Mark has many fewer relatives here than he has in San Pietro.]

Cemetery gate
The signs say:
"Quello che siamo, sarete, preghiamo per voi"
"What we are, you will be, we pray for you""

This is the foundation of the old chapel of the cemetery. There is a new chapel now in a newer area of the cemetery. The locked metal lid in the center of what was the floor is where bones are placed. In the past, in ground burial was the custom. Since the cemetery was small, it was constantly recycled. Every few  years, an older section would be dug up to be reused. All bones found were put into the basement of the chapel. (The tombstones were discarded, apparently.) Today only a few in ground burial sites remain. They are all being replaced with above ground crypts. Now, I've been told, the town officials keep track of which in ground graves are dug up. This was not done in the past so there is very little historical information to be found here. The oldest in ground grave that I found is from the 1940's.

The only cousins I could find in the cemetery.
These are Maria's grandparents.

     On Wednesday, we headed back to Rome (a day earlier than we had originally planned.).
    [We left about 10:00 A.M. and drove to Scafa to get on the autostrada. Then west to Rome where we got on the GRA again and drove around to exit 1 (Via Aurelia). We took Via Aurelia into Rome, drove past the Vatican and up Viale Giulio Cesare to our hotel. Giuliano had set us up with this hotel because it was near the Vatican Museum. We registered and brought our suitcases in. So far the driving in Rome was not too bad. We had planned to get to Rome in the early afternoon during the rest time. Rest time along with the fact that in August, many residents flee the HOT city for the country, made the streets pretty empty. We got directions to the train station from the hotel clerk and headed out to return the rental car. It was exciting but with the directions, Sally’s navigating and Mark’s excellent driving, we found the train station and found the Hertz rental car return. (Total driven 1059 km.) After returning the car, we walked to the Metro station (under the Termini train station) and took the subway to the Lepanto station, near the hotel. That evening, we had dinner at a pizza restaurant - only our second time out for dinner alone! We found an Internet Café and sent a few more emails. We walked to the Vatican Museum to be sure we knew where to go the next morning.]
     We got up early Thursday morning to be one of the first in line for the Sistine Chapel [in the Vatican Museum]. The Sistine Chapel is actually only a small part of a huge museum of sculptures and painting from the Roman times. We spent four hours seeing as much as we could.

The line for the Vatican Museum at 7:45 A.M. Later on in the day it gets much longer.


     Unfortunately, it was not air conditioned, so we were baking in the Rome heat. (Made it harder to enjoy the very interesting history we were seeing.)
     [We visited almost everything in the Musei Vaticani - the Sistine Chapel, the Raffaele Rooms, the Egyptian Museum and the Pio-Clemente Museum.]
    We bought some fruit on the way back to the hotel and collapsed until 5:00 in the evening when we started again. We walked for four hours and saw so much of Rome - the Colosseum, the Pantheon, many Roman ruins [Foro Romano], old churches, the Trevi Fountain, etc, etc. [We also walked to the Piazza Novana. This is a real night spot. It’s an outdoor market combined with street entertainment. Rosalba had taken us here on our first night in Rome but we got a chance to spend more time now.]

One end of Piazza Novana

Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

The Colosseum

Trevi Fountain

Here is a real common site in Rome and Florence. This photo was taken in Piazza Novana.
Performance Art!
People dress up in costumes of all sorts and stand like statues for hours. Donations in coin are appreciated.

     We ate dinner about 9:00 (Italy’s time for dinner) and had one course only of pasta (instead of their normal three courses). It was wonderful and, the best part, not too much food!
     It is now Friday morning and we are sitting at the train station waiting for our train to Florence. [We checked out of the hotel and dragged our suitcases down into the Metro. Caught the subway to the Termini train station and bought two tickets for Firenze. Mark got lunch at McDonalds in the train station.]
     I’m missing everyone and looking forward to coming home.
     Love, Sal & Mark

On to Part 4.

Back to Part 2.

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Mark and Sally

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