“We spent two magical days visiting the ancestral towns with Mirella and Stefano”
Mirella took us to Santa Croce di Magliano in the Molise region to explore the town that our maternal grandfather left to emigrate to the United States when he was 19 years old. Coincidentally, it was also the town where her husband, who joined us on part of the tour, grew up. We enjoyed meeting him and hearing his perspective on the town, which added to our understanding of our grandfather’s early life.
When we first arrived, we met the town historian who had written the lineage of the last two centuries of Tartaglia families from Santa Croce, our family line included. After time with him, Mirella took us on a tour of the town, including the square near where our grandfather was born and the church where baptisms were held. A highlight was visiting the workshop of Don Gennarino, to see the replica he built of the original town of Santa Croce, all in copper. It was a wonderful treat to see his creation and meet him.
We then went to the city offices, met the mayor and spoke with him, and viewed our grandfather’s birth certificate in the town records. Another highlight was lunch at an Agriturismo outside of the town. We got to experience the locally grown food, prepared by the owners of the restaurant. The food and experience were wonderful. Various courses kept arriving at the table, but we weren’t stuffed enough to turn down one of the best tiramisu desserts ever. It was a totally delightful day.
It was a day that we’ll always remember, but there was more to come when we met with Stefano two days later in Emilia-Romagna and visited the town and area where our father was born.
Stefano met us at the train in Reggio Emilia and took us to the town of Castelnovo di Sotto. We visited the city hall, where we saw our father’s original birth certificate, along with those of our grandfather and grandmother. We strolled through the town and Stefano pointed out various buildings and sites. He had a few surprises up his sleeve. In the neighboring town of Poviglio, he told us he may have found a possible relative. A woman at the town hall made a call and then directed us to an address. Sure enough, we met a 2nd or 3rd cousin. She welcomed us and showed us pictures of relatives, some of whom we recognized. It was an unexpected treat, since we discovered that our grandfather had many siblings that we didn’t know about.
We stopped at a café, which was a fun experience. It was late for lunch, but the owner brought us a plate of meats, cheeses, bread, and a large salad – comfort food of the region. As we were leaving, Stefano told him why we were in the area, and the owner and his wife offered us a glass of homemade walnut liquor as a toast.
After lunch, we went to a cemetery where we saw the tombs of our great-grandfather and great-grandmother, which was quite emotionally overwhelming. We also drove to the tiny town of our grandmother’s birthplace.
We spent two magical days visiting the ancestral towns with Mirella and Stefano. They were both well-informed and professional, yet very warm and friendly, and chatting with both of them was lots of fun. We highly recommend their services for anyone who wants to look into their ancestry, or just tour areas of Italy that are off the beaten path.
Carol and Diane