A Personalized Italian Ancestry Tour
Have you ever thought about how life was for your ancestors in Italy? Do you have a dream of someday walking in their footsteps in your ancestral village? Many second and third generation Italian Americans experience a sort of disconnect from the Motherland, as did Shannon Riccio of Milford, Connecticut. That all changed recently, as she embarked on an unforgettable homecoming experience, a Personalized Italian Ancestry Tour to her great grandparents’ village in Italy. There is no better feeling than walking through the narrow streets of your #ancestral village. Click To Tweet
She was overcome with emotion as she experienced first hand the unique culture, warm people, rich history and of course the fantastic food. “I am shaking, and my heart is beating very fast right now, I can’t believe that I am finally here.”, she exclaimed as we approached the entrance of Castelfranco in Miscano, Benevento, Italy.
A Look Inside a Personalized Italian Ancestry Tour
After driving quickly around the tiny Italian village, situated in the western hills of Campania bordering Apulia, we headed directly to the cemetery to kick off her homecoming experience. She had no idea what to expect during her personalized Italian ancestry tour. However, she hoped to be able to find the resting place of some of her ancestors. The enormous cast iron gates at the entrance to the cemetery were slightly ajar. Shannon hesitated a moment and then slowly walked in. She turned to the left and immediately located one of her great grandmother’s headstones. Shannon couldn’t believe her own eyes. Just a few minutes later as she continued to scan through the old section of the cemetery, she spotted her other great grandmother’s headstone. She was completely overcome with emotion, especially when she noticed the photo of her great grandmother next to her name.
There was also a large dedication plaque on the wall of the central aisle of the cemetery for all the Castelfranco in Miscano Italians who emigrated to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bridgeport happens to be the neighboring town to where Shannon was born and raised. In Connecticut, as often occurred during the mass immigration of the early 1900’s, word quickly spread of work in the promise land. Naturally, other’s followed settling nearby each other thus, making the transition and integration into the American culture a bit easier.
Now it was time to do a bit of exploring on foot, and with an actual population of fewer than 1000 inhabitants, you can imagine how quickly word traveled that two foreigners were wandering around town taking photographs. Outside the main church, an ambassador of sorts greeted us. He offered us an espresso and told us that his father immigrated to Bridgeport, Connecticut. He has relatives that emigrated to both the United States and Argentina. They communicate with each other regularly via an online newsletter. They have their next family reunion planned in Argentina for an uncle’s 70th birthday. He gifted Shannon a CD with some history of her ancestral village and photos of Castelfranco in Miscano. He also gave her an extract from a dictionary of Castelfranchesi dialect. After all, he feels that it is important to keep the dialect language and traditions alive in Italy and abroad.
We were guided into the quaint little church, where her great grandparents were baptized, by a charming 88-year-old Italian woman. Shannon learned a bit about the patron saint San Giovanni Battista and her ancestor’s religious culture. Although Shannon did not speak Italian very well, she was able to communicate easily throughout her personalized Italian ancestry tour. I was there with her every step of the way interpreting the interactions between her and her fellow Castelfranchesi. Next, she indulged in typical fresh-baked goods at the tiny bakery and sampled locally made cheeses at the local food market.
Her special day ended with a trip to the natural sulfur springs at sunset, followed by a typical 3 hour 3-course dinner including local Italian red wine and homemade limoncello. Shannon wrapped up her homecoming experience in Castelfranco in Miscano feeling very satisfied. Having experienced the local food and the kind friendly spirit of the Castlefranchesi. She left with a better understanding of her Italian culture and history, and a strong sense of Italian pride.
There is no better feeling than walking through the narrow streets of your ancestral village. Have you ever gone to visit the town or region where your ancestors originated?