My grandmother was the first one in her family born in America. The story goes like this: My great-grandfather, Dante, came to the U.S.A. with his family days before the stock market crash in 1929. A year later, my nonna, Elia, was born. The depression was terrible, the girls dropped out of school to work, boarders stayed at their house, but Dante stayed employed with tile and stone masonry. Life moves on, my grandfather met young Elia before he left for service in WWII, then returned safely, they married and had my father. My parents met in New Jersey, married and had me. The simple twists of fate align, but one part of it began here–in the mountains of Northern Italy–Poffabro.
This is the main square. My grandmother had this as a painting in her living room above the fireplace.
The inside of the church was clean and pious.
I walked around and checked out the cute little village of only 200 inhabitants. This was the only cafè that was open on a Sunday afternoon. They were friendly and happy to help me.
I had a local lunch at the only restaurant. It was tagliatelle ragù, and second was polenta, white beans and local venison, with a tasty German beer. I met some bikers who were enjoying a mid-ride lunch and we all chatted and made broken English and Italian jokes over espresso.
These geese were not happy I took a post-lunch stroll through their garden!
I finished off the visit in the forest, accidentally soaking my feet by slipping off the moss covered rocks and bringing home some of the mountain dirt caked to my sneakers.
Last is Via Colussi: my family name and probably the street where they lived. This house was occupied by my ancestors in the early 20th century before they departed for a better life. It’s hard to imagine leaving this hillside village for the bustle of 1930’s Philadelphia.
A bit of a dream come true to stand in the square of the painting that hung on my grandma’s wall for so long and I used to stare at it and imagine what it was like there. Now I know.