Saturday, June 24, 2006
A link to the Past - Castelvetrano
For years and years, I searched records upon records, quizzed elderly aunts and my poor mom to find out more about our family's history -- where my grandparents were born, where in Italy my great-grandparents were from. No one could tell me....those things were rarely talked about in my mother's generation, or if they were, they weren't recorded and thus, never remembered.
After more than 20 years studying anthropology, I decided to record my own family's history -- or as much of it as I could elicit from my parents (my grandparents on both sides died so very young and thus I didn't know them). So before my father passed away, I recorded many of his stories, interviews and the like, and continue to do the same with my mother. But getting past their generation to know my ancestors was exceedingly difficult.
I wrote to the Immigration Office two or three years ago requesting information about my maternal grandfather. Two years ago I received a letter from Homeland Security saying they had my request and I would hear from them. Another year passed and I thought my request was lost. Until yesterday ...
On the day I knew my cat was gone and I was mourning her loss, the mailman delivered a CD with EIGHT pages of immigration information about my grandfather! Talk about an emotional rollercoaster! I was OVERJOYED!!
Within all the legal documents was the city in which my Nonno was born: Castelvetrano, a city in the province of Trapani, Sicily, Italy. MY GOD! A most precious piece of ancestral information!
I called my mother, and needless to say, she was as thrilled as I was! And my sisters were incredulous to know that my request wasn't really lost after all this time and that they, too now had a most wonderful piece of information!
I spent most of yesterday, after making jam, touring Castelvetrano via the Internet and wondering what my grandfather's life must have been like there. I knew he was orphaned when he own parents died when he was a child. He was raised by an aunt (NO one knows her name, DRATS!!) on a farm (we think near Sciaca ... about 50 miles from Castelvetrano since my Godmother believed my grandfather came from Sciaca). When C and I visited Sicily last year, we toured Trapani and took the road not TEN MILES from Castelvetrano ...touring the hillsides (GORGEOUS), farms and olive groves in that area. We also toured Sciaca ... so we were actually in the area where my nonno was born and raised.
Yet to have this confirmed, just thrills me beyond measure! So I sketched Chiesa Madre de Castelvetrano (the Mother Church of Castelvetrano) in honor of my Nonni.
(I'm a bit hesitant to add watercolor to this since it took me HOURS to do this simple rendering.)
I have a list of additional relatives to submit to Homeland Security .... in hopes of finding additional links to my ancestors. Until that information is uncovered, if it can be, I will bask in this link to a place I fell in love with while I save my nickles and dimes to return there again armed with a bit more 'famiglia' than I brought with me last year.