FROM WISCONSIN TO LUCOLI (AQ). Rediscovering My Past by Todd Cambio

by Amministratore
I am visiting Lucoli and L’Aquila from the United States to discover the history of my great grandparents, who immigrated from here in the early 1900’s.  Part of my trip has been to obtain documents pertaining to my great grandparent’s, primarily their birth certificates, the other part of my trip is to see the land where part of my family came from and to hopefully understand more about what their lives were like.  From the beginning of our trip in Rome, I have been blown away by the friendship and hospitality extended to my family and I.
Our friend Fabrizio picked us up in Rome and we made the trip to Lucoli.  Our first stop was to the municipality, where I had the chance to meet and thank some of the people who have helped to uncover my family history.  Next we stopped at the shop of a local cheese maker, where we ate fresh mozarella made that morning.  The cheese was incredible, still warm and squeaky on the teeth, a quality which we use to judge the freshness in my home Wisconsin (a region of America known for its cheese). 
The little family (part of it without two sons) walking in the main square of l’Aquila

Just some cards

First page of the population register regarding 1879
Old documents destroyed by the war in Scontrone regarding Tirilli Caterina

Later in the afternoon we visited L’Aquila, the hometown of my great grandfather.  I was struck by the beauty of the city and heartbroken by the devastation.  I knew of the earthquake, I had read about it and seen some videos and programs on it, but there was no way I could fathom what had happened without seeing it in person.  Still I have a hard time grasping the events.  To see such a beautiful place in such a state, is overwhelming.  I am at a loss for words.

L’Aquila the Santa Maria della Misericordia little square where Domenico Cambio was born

We were able to find the place where my great grandfather was born, very near the church Santa Maria di Misercordia.  He was born in a charity home and given to the midwife who attended the birth.  The midwife brought him to the Mayor of L’Aquila who gave him his name, Domenico Cambio.  Domenico because he was born on a Sunday, Cambio because his history was to be changed.  He was given to a woman, Antonia Rotilio who breast fed him and swore to take responsibility for his life.  An incredible story.

That evening we had a wonderful dinner with people from Lucoli, L’Aquila and Paganica (Fernando).  Again I was struck by the warmth of everyone.  It was wonderful to hear more about the area, to have conversation about Italy now, and to make new friends.  The evening ended with wonderful guitar, mandolin and violin playing by Vincenzo and Fabrizio (professional musicians and teachers) and a sing a long with the crowd.  It was a joyous evening. 
Today we went to Scontrone, in the south of Abruzzo, the village of my great grandmother.  It is a beautiful village, perched on the side of a mountain.  We met with an official of the town to obtain a birth certificate for my great grandmother.  It was a very windy drive through mountain passes.  We were late for our appointment, but the official was kind enough to wait for us.  It was quite an experience to walk the streets of some of my ancestors. 
One thing that it difficult for me to fathom is how my ancestors made the journey to Napoli, in order to catch a ship to the U.S.  I will need to do further research on this.  I cannot imagine making the trip on foot or with a donkey.  My great grandparents returned to Lucoli when my grandfather was one year old.  My great grandfather went back to the U.S. ahead of my great grandmother.  She had a baby while in Lucoli, then made the trip back to the U.S. with her new baby and my two year old grandfather.  This for me is impossible to imagine.  We are making the trip with our youngest son who is one year old, with all the modern conveniences and a guide, and it is at times difficult.  She must have been a very strong woman as she accomplished the near impossible.
Tomorrow we go back to L’Auila.  I look forward to seeing the beautiful city a second time.  I will always remember what we have found here, incredible land and wonderful people, “fuerte e gentile”.
Saluti Cordiale,
Todd Cambio

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Anonimo 11 Ottobre 2012 - 19:40

Immagino quale tristezza avrà provato nel rivedere L'Aquila in queste condizioni … un saluto a TODD

amministratore 12 Ottobre 2012 - 7:48

Grazie della risposta.
Appena Todd sarà in grado (ora è in viaggio) risponderà. E' incredibile ma non ha provato alcuna tristezza, perchè era per la primissima volta in Italia ed ha visto l'Aquila come una città meravigliosa e bellissima, stupendosi di come nel resto del mondo non fosse conosciuta per le sue bellezze.
La sua promessa è quella di tornare con tutti gli altri della famiglia Cambio, suo zio, i suoi fratelli e cugini.

Anonimo 22 Ottobre 2012 - 17:44

Ciao to everybody,
We have safely arrived home and have been enjoying our older boys. I planted 120 cloves of Sulmona red garlic in my garden yesterday. It was quite an event getting it into the country. There was a dog at the airport in Chicago who was sniffing for fruit, vegetables and salami. Luckily I was able to get past him. You'd think I was smuggling heroine or something!

Thank you so much for all of your warmth and hospitality during our visit.
Todd & my family


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