Thursday, we packed up the babbies and the parents and hopped in the cars to head for the hills. The hills outside of Catanzaro, where Marcellinara sits.
Marcellinara is the town listed on my Great-Grandmother’s immigration paperwork as her home before departing Italy for New York. We believe she and her husband married there before heading across the ocean, and my great-uncle Giuseppe (Joseph) was most likely born there.
We wanted to take a drive up to scope out the town before we went up to do any research in earnest.
Waze guided us to big parking lot that doubles as a market on Mondays. We wandered around a bit until we found our way up the hill to the actual town center, complete with Church, City Hall and an open plaza looking out over the valley below.
There was a little old man sitting in the plaza pictured above who started speaking to us without hesitation. Between apps and pantomime we explained that mom’s Nonna was from Marcellinara, to which he just kept replying “famiglia!” and making gestures of hugging.
Eventually we made our way over to City Hall and peeked inside. It was empty, because we were there during the non-siesta hours, but our intent was merely to find it, and we did. It also had bathrooms, so yay!!
Wandering back up towards the church, we stopped at a cafe that we weren’t sure was actually open. One of the young gentlemen outside (maybe in his mid-20s) said hello and immediately switched to English when we tried to speak. We explained the reason for our visit, and he pulled out his cellphone to call his grandfather in order to see if he recognized any of the names we had. Since Great-Grandma left here in the late 1890s, we didn’t expect him to. But the nice guy directed us towards the local cemetery (which we hadn’t been able to find on a map) to check there as well.
As we got underway again, previous old man blew mom a kiss as we wandered by, and the little cafe next to the church turned out to be open, so we sat in the shade and enjoyed some Cokes, chips, peanuts, and some tasty tasty spicy spicy chili paste on bread.
We headed back home for the day (via Vibo Marina for an early dinner) very satisfied with our first connection to family.