Friday, October 15, 2010

Finding and Visiting Our Family Village

I have threatened my family that I was going to find and visit Petina for the past 3 years. Other relatives have visited by car, but I had hoped to take the train and taxi to this small town.
Little did I know that there IS NOT TRAIN OR TAXI. You can take the bus from Salerno 2 times a day and hope that this bus returns the SAME day. This was not the best choice.
I contacted several car service web sites on line. But the car servies could not give me a driver who spoke English. Not a problem for driving to and from Petina but I needed to obtain a birth certificate for my grandfather from the town hall. After a week of travel in Italy, I have been told many times that I really do not speak Italian and they have NO idea what language I am speaking! Strange because I have entire conversations with myself in Italian........ they are probably correct, i never use the proper tense or verb and my pronuciation could be polish for all I know.

But I shall not be detered. An American living in Southern Itlay who i met on Face Book put me in touch with

They have a wonderful website story about their founder and the years he spent building his business. They could accommodate me or a large tour group. And they would drive me wherever I needed and pick my up anywhere on the Amalfi coast! The perfect company. I will post a short blog about
Daniela Criscuolo in the future. But I loved their photos of the first taxi the company had. Right out of the 1940's!!!

So what am I to do aboutmy trip to Petina?

I tried a different approach.
I wrote to the language school I attended in Sorrento and the two schools I found on line in Salerno (closer to the area I needed to visit).  Only one school returned my email and told me about a british woman who taught English in their school.  Maria would be able to help me!!!  Yeah.  I dont know the Italian for Yeah!  but you get the idea.

This is Petina from the small two lane road that you take after exiting the maniac super highway.
I wondered aloud how did the family travel from this village to Naples to take their ship to America?
There were no cars in the late 1800s, there was no road, just I expect a track for waggons.

My aunt told me this week that my grandfather tried to jump off the wagon to return to the village as they pulled away......  so it is off to Naples by wagon!  It took an hour at top speed to arrive here.  How many days would it take to go throgh the mountains to reach Naples????   What an ordeal before they even boarded the ship.

So Maria and her delightful husband picked me up in Salerno (of course my Italian said one hotel and they went to a different one) and off we speed to Petina.   I am still amazed these kind people would take their time to take a stranger to a remote village in the mountains.

As a coincident the best man at their wedding lives in the area and he met up near Petina.  Here are my merry band of helpers in the records office:

After some discussion where I only understood some of the conversation the wonderful clerk found the book of all baptisims in Petina.  Hand written by the church priest and passed on.   Now the records were also filed by hand in an official book.  By searching the year of birth, they found the record of my grandfathers birth.   Of course this was not important to anyone but me but it was very moving.   The records are over 100 years old and they are just thumbing through the pages......

In further convesation with the most kind town clerk, we find that no family members remain in Petina but that we should try the next town.   Before we leave Petina we can walk by the house where my great grand parents and grandfather lived.   I just know all the zias and zios will lover this::::

But shall I tell them about the scandal?

So off we go to Sicignano degli Alburni which is over the mountain through the national forest and miles of chesnut trees that are ready to harvest.

This town is much larger and livler.  Petina had only 3 people in the street, all over 100 years old.  Two were waiting for the fish merchant to arrive in his mini van to sell fresh fish.......  Perhaps everyone else communtes to work or as I was told, works on farms in the surrounding area.

Petina is VERY clean and tidy.  Homes are well kept and we were able to walk around the entire town in a short time.  

When we arrived at Sicignano we made another visit to the county clerk just as they were delivering take out expresso!!!  Watch out starbucks.

With great luck, the clerk here knew the only remaining Laurino!  And sig. Laurino was called, came by the town hall and walked up over to his office..   Vittori is an engineer and speaks English.  He also had brothers in NYC and a relative with a summer home on Long Beach Island!!! this is only 1/2 hr from my home in NJ.

Life is very strange and the world is small

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Even nuns have a bad day sometimes.....

I am traveling in Italy for 30 days and this is not a glamor trip. While doing several other projects, see other posts, I am trying to see if I can do Italy on 100 a day. NO not 100 dollars, 100 euors and it is difficult. So I am staying in convent hotels in most of the cities I will visit. I break up these austere accomodations with hotels and an apartment for a week in Spoleto.

In Rome I stayed at one location two separate times. The building has the most amazing roof terrace! Had dinner up there and videoed the sunset over St Peters. But on my second visit in 10 days when I asked for a fan for my room I was given a hair dryer. No i dont know the word for fan or hair dryer but hair dryer is easier to pantomine! I offered to draw a pictue and received the usual Italian hand signal to go away and see me tomorrow. Well I didnt need a fan in the morning , i needed one TONIGHT.

So I just put it in my funny story pile.

I was lucky, I was not asked to leave when my alarm clock went off at 7:00pm. No I did not wake anyone but as I walked down from the roof terrace I heard a noise similar to a car alarm.... this is from the 4th floor. As i got closer to the 2nd floor where my room was I realized it was my alram clock! You could hear it from four floors away and through thick stone.... jsut another travel event, small and trivial...

The bus in Italy hates me.....

NEVER take the bus!! i have written about riding the bus to Fiuggi with 25 teenagers
I have taken the bus to Fiesole but that was the end of the route and i could not get lost, but i have been left in a small town during the FOUR hour lunch hour because the bus did not run and today I took the BUS from Hell.

i have not done the amalfi coast bus because i understand it is very scary but today i was in Capri
and wanted to see Anna Capri and you must take the bus or go by taxi. the bus was packed and one of the riders pushed me into the stairwell so that he could be more comfortable. As we go up the mountain the bus is within 3 inches of the edge of the road. i tried to tell the driver i wanted to get off but noticed even if i wanted to walk back there were NO sidewalks. buses, cars, motorskooters were all careening up the hill around curves. All i saw was the thousands of feet to the bottom or into the sea.

So i shall keep my vow to NEVER take the bus. This week i shall take the ferry to Salerno.

Home To Italy Finding my family Home

Everything is out of order, I am posting events that happended today and have not posted the previous week. But a quick up date on my adventure: i did find and visit our home village of Petina and as for traveling in Italy for 100 euors a day HA, I have good days and bad days. I do not intentionally spend less on food for the days my hotel exceeds the budget. But I do think it will all average out in the end.

The only problem is the LUGGAGE! I have traveled before and can not understand why this trip is so heavy. I shall be shipping things home or throwing them away before i drag this bag anoother mile to the train station.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I am finally Home to Italy!

I have been in Italy for 2 1/2 days and this is the first wifi spot i have found so that I may use my own computer!
I must add photos to this spot since it is close to heaven, literally, i am on a cliff side on Capri in a delightful albergo piccolo.   More on that today.

Truely as I sit overlooking the ocean, rock cliffs and the many houses perched on the hill side I wonder how it becomes any better than this........

But today my computer is speaking Italian!!! when i signed on the screen was all in Italain!   Just guessing at the proper prompts and we will see where it takes us.

More later.