The purpose of this trip was to visit the city that our great grandmother was from. My sister arranged a “heritage” tour and we sent our family background information ahead of our visit. Our driver/heritage tour director Domenico had done a lot of research on our behalf. He showed up at our hotel at 9:00 a.m. and off we went to Mendicino, Italy. (I promptly fell asleep in the car. Good thing Laura sat up front and was talkative.) The drive was about one hour – such a nice nap…..
We arrived in Mendicino, where finding a parking place on the oh so narrow streets can be a chore, but Domenico did great. We first went to have a coffee at a place right next to City Hall. This is where we met Antonio. The workers and Antonio were all abuzz about our visit. But sadly I do not speak Italian. But I loved listening to it.
Off to city hall. Domenico had notified the mayor of our upcoming visit. The mayor had said he would like to meet us. So while we were in the records office, the mayor arrived and we stepped out into the hallway and greeted him. We then went into his office and took a picture. He spoke only Italian but Domenico translated for us. He asked for photos with us as well and then he posted them on his Facebook page. He was welcoming other tourists to the area to research their ancestors. The election is coming up on Saturday so the records office was abuzz with people coming and going . This mayor is well-liked and is running for re-election.
Because Domenico had done the legwork ahead of time, we were able to quickly locate my great-grandmothers birth record. I momentarily froze in time as I realized what was happening at that moment. I was in Mendicino, Italy. I was in Italy. I was looking at the birth record of my father’s grandmother– the woman who raised my father. I was speechless. I didn’t want to speak because I was momentarily overcome with emotion and I didn’t want to cry like a baby in front of all my new friends.
We then headed to the church where Rosarina was baptized — over 100 years ago – the church where my great grandmother was baptized. The church was built upon a rock which you will see in this next picture.
This was all rather satisfying and overwhelming and unbelievable and “pinch me – is this real life.” Antonio’s grandmother actually lived right next to the church so we said hello to her and then goodbye to Antonio and we headed to visit a husband and wife. The wife was a Reda and there was a possibility that we were related. They welcomed us into their home and we talked for over an hour. It was cold and rainy outside and we sat around a table with a fire burning in the fireplace while Domenico translated. She (the wife – the Reda) received two or three phone calls from people passing on genealogy information to her. Alas we do not think we are from the same Reda family, but the visit was just so very cool.
By now it was about 2:00 and we headed to lunch. Lunch was served right back by city hall and it was really good. After lunch we headed to the part of town that was on Rosario’s birth certificate. It is most likely that they lived in the country and that she was born at home. It was an absolutely beautiful drive. Many of the houses are sitting empty now with only two homes still being occupied.
Domenico had one more visit planned for us. This was to a 99 year old man’s home. His name is Eugenie (sp?) Reda. (My father’s middle name is Eugene – possibly after Eugene Caputo (a Reda family member). This man’s daughter looks after him and we sat and talked with her for about an hour also. Laura wrote down a lot of information, but again we are not so sure that she is a relative. But we had a fantastic visit.
After a long and very fulfilling day, we headed back to Pizzo to reflect upon all we had learned. It was a fantastic day – everything we could have hoped for. I’ll post some pictures of the views we took in next. Tomorrow we have a new adventure that includes a silkworm farm. But for now it is goodnight.