Sunday, March 27, 2011

Italian song in Italia


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Help to find your family roots in Italy

Home To Italy:  Now there is help to find your family village or town.

During the past two years on my trips home to Italy, I tried to find and visit the village where my grandfather and great grandparents were born.  During the three months I lived in Sorrento I did not feel comfortable with the bus system to attempt the trip to the small mountain town of Petina, south of Salerno, Italia.

So before I took off for my most recent adventure I sent email requests to all the language schools in Salerno and Sorrento to find someone who would be willing to translate for me.   I did find a car service which had been in business since the 1940's who agreed to drive me to Petina.  But this is not about the great visit to Petina I made in October, it is to tell others Italian Americans who may be looking for their family towns, that I have set up a small network of Italians who are available to help you.

In Sorrento, Italy, Peppe Fiorentino was an "angle" to me while I lived in Sorrento.  I wanted to try to live as an "Italian" and rented an apartment in a town where I only knew Mr. Firentino.  He was always there to help me with any problem or a friendly chat when I walked by his wonderful store, Cumo Lucky Store  .     The store has been in business since the 1800's and has wonderful items.   

Now Peppe will be able to help travelers, Italian Americans and tourists with finding their home villages,
Contact Peppe by email at:

My next contact to help you find your Italian roots is Maria Lavergat, in Salerno.   Originally from Britain, Maria visited her Italian grandmother every summer and has lived in Italy for almost 25 years.   

I met Maria  when I sent a request to the Leonardo Accademy, a language school in Salerno, asking if any of the instructors would be willing to translate for me. 

I was incredibly surprised to find that Maria was willing to go with me to Petina (see our separate story) and assist me in obtaining my grandfather's birth certificate,  a requirement to apply for dual citizenship with Italy. (dual citizenship to be in a future blog)

After helping me with the required paperwork, she and her photograper husband, found out that there might be decendants in the next town.   We did find a possible relative!   After more than 100 years since the family had left for America, a possible distant relative was living in the next town!   (home to Petina blog in the next few weeks) 

, Maria has agreed to help other "searchers" find their Italian roots.  You can expedite your search by having Maria research Italian data bases that we do not have access to.   

Don't take years trying to locate your family village.  Speak with Peppe or Maria and begin your search now. 
Please contact Maria at

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How much to use the bathroom?

While on my adventure to Italy this past year I visited Burano. This is an island outside of Venice that is an easy ferry ride from the city. However, when there are an extra 100 tourist at the stop in Murrano who want to also visit, the ferry is PACKED and everyone is hanging on as we hit the waves.  A quiet visit to this charming village becomes a massive tour group.  It makes you wonder what it is like to really live there.

Burano is a disney world-like village with multi pastel colored houses along a small canal. I expect tourism is an important part of the economy and many of the regular home fronts had tables set up with handicrafts or souveniers for sale. I would have been happy to speak with a resident and share a coffee for a fee!
Who needs another plastic gondola?

 But to get on to my story: It is often difficult to find public bathrooms while traveling. there are limited fast food restaurants so you can not always expect to find a McDonalds.   I have been told by Italians that they usualy use the facilities at a bar (cafe) after ordering a drink. But I find Americans do not like to ask "where is the toilet".

So I was pleased to see signs in Venice for WC. The European symbol for bathroom. I expect with the millions of tourists in Venice, they had to do something! Of course you have the facilities at the train station, near the tourist office in St. Marks Square (this is a two story one!!!) and signs in the maze of streets leading from St Marks to the Rialto bridge. I felt like I was a live piece in a monopoly game following the sign for the WC, sent to dead ends, down dark alleys that I would NEVER take in any city in the USA.

There were stickers attached to the pavenment in Burano saying WC !  Yeah.  I followed  ! Only to find this handmade sign delaring this the MOST expensive bathroom I found in Italy.

 A euro at the time was between $1.37 to $1.45.
But there was no other alternative.