Mirella Ammirati’s Southern Italian Travel is an amazing resource for ancestral research and cultural heritage. As part of a visit to Italy, I wanted to go beyond the historic and cultural sites visited by millions of tourists.
I had traveled to Italy on six separate occasions but had never visited my maternal grandparents’ home town. My limited Italian language skills would have meant that I only would have been able to take a few pictures to prove I had been there but little else. Because of Mirella and her brother, Stefano I have an experience to remember.
Having provided them with some family names and birth dates, they were able to construct a family tree going back five generations. But that was just the foundation of their exceptional efforts to provide me with a day I’ll never forget.
Upon arriving at the town I was greeted by Mirella and several of the town’s senior citizens and later was given a walking tour by two of the town’s councilmen with Mirella and Stefano acting as translators. Past and current history along with local folktales flowed as from a fountain.
Mirella also arranged a six course lunch in the neighboring town, as my grandparents’ town was too small to have a local restaurant. The trattoria’s chef and owner was another source of information on local cuisine, customs and history, some of which dated back to pre Rome.
As a final surprise, Mirella arranged for us to be serenaded by a local zampognaro bagpipe player) in the piazza of my grandparents’ town.
This town is one of the few in Italy that maintains this tradition and at Christmas time these zampognione travel to large cities such as Rome to play traditional Christmas carols. The family history and folklore I received from this visit are a treasure.
I highly recommend Southern Italian Travel and Mirella for their exceptional research and efforts to help those of us who have benefited from the struggles of immigrants to understand our history and something of ourselves.
From Darien, Illinois and San Polo Matese