Wednesday, April 30, 2014

searching for our roots

Today we wrapped up our time in Rome. My genealogist Anne had arranged  taxi service to Fiuggi. it was quite interesting because  Marco spoke very little English. However I managed to communicate with him.

It only took us one and a half hours to get to Fiuggi. .The hotel is amazing it is so beautiful. It is a five star hotel Spa conference center.

After checking in my room I sat down to have a good cry...happy and sad tears. Happy that I'm here. Its been a life long dream of mine as I worked with the family history. I have for years been looking at old postcards from family here. I feel like I already know this town and the people here. Sad tears because for years Dad longed to come. It was his dream too and he never made it.

 Jackie and I decided to walk around the new part of town. The new part consists of an area that was developed in the 40's and 50's. We found some interesting places. A number of them were closed ...this may be off season.

We found the hotel IGEA, a hotel our family was involved in.

While we were walking around we ran into to 2  Polish ladies. they spoke maybe a total of 7 words in English. They were looking for pizza. But we managed to have a full conversation with them. I found out one has been in New York. But they both live near Warsaw. They understood that my grandparents were from Poland. But they were very confused as to why my mother did not teach me polish. With the help of my telephone translator I managed to tell them my mom didn't teach me so she could talk to her sisters privately. They thought that was pretty funny. And they said she was smart. Or at least that's what the  sign language looked like...It was 2 thumbs up. I helped them find pizza and they hugged us when they left as if we were family.

Then we decided  we would go get some dinner. We went into this nice restaurant. The lady seem to think that we were Italian or that we understood Italian. Now between us we have had just a couple classes of the Italian  and we have had many years of Spanish so we were able to decipher the language pretty well. And we were watching their big screen TV and discussing what was going on. It was quite comical to hear her chatter at us and we just nod and smile.

Now it is back to our rooms. We will be going to old town Fiuggi in the morning to visit the streets my grandparents were born on and the church they were married in. I will walk the streets that for years I have walked only in my mind.

There is something going on in the streets..people chanting and whistling. Lots of people are walking down there...wish I knew what was going on.  Too tired to go down there...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

9 miles

Today was another 9 miler. First we took the metro to the Colloseum. It was incredible. In spite of the large numbers of people there, it was mostly quiet as everyone was very reverant. What an impact it makes to be in the place where so many died. There was a large cross erected in 1860 by the Pope at that time as a monument to the dead. The present day Popes start Good Friday Stations of the Cross there. I spent time in. Prayer asking the Marytrs for their interssionary prayers for my friends and family's special prayer requests.

Then we went to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hills. Another incredible site with beautiful views and interesting facts. We saw the place where Julius Ceaser's body was burned after his death. People had thrown coins there...render unto Ceaser what is when in Rome....I tossed in a 2 euro coin. That place is huge and filled with a stadium, villas and palaces and even a 2000 yr old mall. Who knew.

Leaving there we went passed the church of St Peter and Paul. It is on the site where they were imprisoned and youcould see the door to the cell but it was Tuesday so it was closed. But I stopped there again to pray for the prayer requests.

It was dinner time but we wanted to see the "wedding cake". We got there too late and they were closing so we got a few photos of the monument and went to dinner at a litte café with tables on the street and I do mean on the street. Everyone we've eaten at so far is on the street with cars wizzing by you.

Then we decided to try to find the place where we got the awesome homemade gelati near Piazza Popolo. On the way down we stopped in two churches along the way since Jackie and I are a bit of church groupies. We walked around stopped to pray for our prayer lists and then down to Popolo. We ate our gelati and then tried to get in St Maria de Popola but it was closed so we walked back to the apartment......according to Jackies pedometer we walked 9 miles!  Tomorrow is Fiuggi...I'm taking grandpop, grandmom and the Yori family home.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Food, fun and faith...

The day started with morning Mass at St. Peters. We didn't know it but they were having a special polish mass.  We found ourselves in the middle of thousands of people singing Polish hymns.  It was quite beautiful.

Most of the mass I could not understand but a Polish woman would translate for us. During Mass the Polish woman pointed out 2 birds circling the dome of St Peter's. She said in broken English...St John Paul II and St John XX III they come to be with us. I got goosebumps.

Then we went back to the pantheon where we were able to go inside. It was an absolutely beautiful church.

Along the way we stopped in to a pizza shop because I was hungry.  I bought some potato pizza from young man he told me he was not an Italian. He asked me if I could guess where he was from. He looked to be from the Middle East. So I said from the Middle East. He said yes where? I said now don't be insulted if I get it wrong because I know you all don't get along over there. And he laughed and said he wouldn't. Then I guessed Egyptian.  He was shocked that I got it right. I made a new friend.

Leaving the pantheon we stopped for a special treat Genitini ...or something like that.  Basically it
 was espresso in  ice form with whipped cream top and bottom. It was strong but very good.

We stumbled on a church with the remains of St Catherine of Siena. Her coffin was marble in her image. We were able to walk into the glass altar and kneel and pray. I had gotten a prayer card that I held to the coffin, making it a third class relic. I spent that time praying for every one on my prayer list. We were very lucky because they were getting ready to close the church. We were one of the last ones permitted in the coffin area.

After a quick dinner of panini, we went to another large square, where there were artists. I bought a watercolor of the Vatican painted by a young Iranian woman who was living there studying language.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2 more saints in heaven

My alarm clock went off at 530. I went back to sleep. I was beat from that ten mile walk.

 We finally got out the door and  followed a bunch of monks down the hill and around Peter's Square. However they weren't letting anyone but those monks and others like them in. We followed the crowd trying another path. We ended up on a side street but could see a big screen. I believe all of Poland was there and most of Europe. There were flags waving everywhere and groups of the faithful praying and singing.  Millions of us were packed in like sardines. Happy sardines.

We found a cafe for a quick breakfast. People were coming in to use the bathroom and the proprietor was chasing them out because as he said in broken English" we have to work". I ordered my cappuccino and crossiant. He waved me to the coffee bar, Madame....he meant business. I am not sure what they were all talking about but I did recognize it when the young boy said Momma Mia . I had to laugh because it made me think about my grandmother  Beatrice   who always said Momma Mia. At that moment I knew she was with us..

The Italian man next to me was alone and spoke very little English. It was funny he kept talking to me and I with my limited Italian got the gist of it. He seemed to understand more than he spoke.

At one point he thought I was French. Now this is funny because before I left, I went to all these web  pages about what to wear and what not to wear when you go to Europe. I didn't want to stand out and scream American. So I guess it worked. Later on, another Italian man in a shop spoke French to me when I paid him....all the French I know is wee. ..not sure how to spell that.

Mass was very long and  was in Italian. When they spoke Italian for the Mass responses, I just did mine in English. I got a few strange looks. When I did the sign of peace in English I think some of them were confused.  I prayed for the intentions on my 2 page prayer list. The sky looked ominous but the rain held off.

The highlight of Mass was when the 2 reliquaries were brought out with the relics of the two popes the crowd went wild. It was so moving. You could feel the love for these two holy men.

Saint John Paul II and St John XXIII pray for us.

benvento a Roma

It was long grueling trip. I sat next to a really nice young woman from Stuebenville University who made it go faster.

 After settling in our apartment we walked 10 miles.  We went to Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and visited one of the dopple ganger twin Churches.  Inside the church was a vigil. It was in Italian. Many of the people were standing and singing, holding hands and even dancing in circles at one point. They were in front of the altar on which stood a Monstrance. It was very moving. It brought me to tears. Even though I didn't understand the language, I understood the love for God. I prayed for the intentions on my 2 page prayer list.

When we got to the Trevi Fountain it was packed..I tossed in a coin for me. And recalling in my mind the entire Iori Family including those who passed like my grandparents and Dad , I tossed another coin in.

We ate dinner at  Taverno Lino. I had a wonderful plate of Alle Vongole and tiramasu for dessert.  When we got home we were beat. Lights out.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Today is the DAY!

Shortly I will be leaving for the airport. First we fly from BWI to JFK in New York and then off to Rome. This is so exciting. Between the canonization of Pope John Paul II and the trip to  Fiuggi, the town in Italy where my grandparents were born, I'm just floating on a cloud!

Say a little prayer for our safety and look out for more blogs to come as I blog my way through Italy and my heritage! Hugs!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

One More Day

Well tomorrow is the day. I'm not going to get much sleep tonight!!!! We leave from Baltimore and go to NY City and then off to Rome! It's a night flight but because it's not a direct flight there is a long layover in NY City. But that's okay.

When it is time to go to Fiuggi, my genealogist hooked me up with a cab driver in Sora. It's going to be a long day for him driving from Sora to Rome to Fiuggi! The drive to Fiuggi from Rome is a little over an hour. I hope that when we drive up I see this view of the city. I'd like to get a comparison photo.

As I was going through the post cards I saw this one of the lake. I don't remember reading about a lake and I was sort of surprised.  So being the Google Queen, I googled it.

According to an Italian website:  "Lazio’s largest karst lake, Lake Canterno, can be found in the heart of the Ciociaria area, at just a short distance from the town of Alatri, at the foot of the Ernici mountains, set in an isolated hollow encircled by oak trees and woods.
Situated at a height of 538 metres, it is surrounded by gentle, hilly countryside and protected by the Lake Canterno Nature Reserve. It occupies a surface area of 0.6 m2, has a perimeter of approximately 5 km and its depth ranges from 13 to 25 metres. The lake is approximately 2 km long and 1 km wide."

When I read this I thought hummm, Alatri. I have heard of that town. According to my genealogist, Ann Tatangelo, Giuseppi Iori (my 3rd Great Grandfather) came from Alatri to Fiuggi in the 1700s. I can't wait until Ann gets back to our family tree.....I would love to know what the Iori family (then known as Iorio) were doing during that time.

That was a time in history called the Enlightenment when Italy was under the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. This was the time when Napoleon Buonaparte was doing his thing in France and bringing the Renaissance to Italy . The Trevi Fountain was finished after 30 years in 1762. And Johann Sebastian Bach was making beautiful music. Exciting times....I can only imagine what my family was doing during this period of history.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Still Counting

TWO days and counting. It won't be long and the Pope that had been such a large part of my life, Pope John Paul II will be made a Saint. Was there ever any doubt he would be a Saint? Not for me. I am so delighted that I will be there to witness the canonization. It is something I have never been a part of and something I've always wanted to do. 

I was going through old photos, etc. last night and I found these old postcards. My Dad kept them for years. When Grandmom died they were going to throw these away and Dad said he would take them. Glad he did. Now they are safe forever or at least until I die. Many of them have messages from our family in Fiuggi from both the Iori and Pannone sides.  The hotel pictured is one that was owned by the Pannone family. There are pictures of people who also worked there with their hotel uniforms. I hope to find this hotel.

 I have always liked this postcard. It's of the fountain in the old part of town. I hope to find this fountain too.

The street pictured is typical of the streets in the old part of town. The two streets I am looking for (ones that  my grandparents were born and lived) look like this. My genealogist in Italy took photos of those streets for me. I want to find them and this one in particular.

I hope they still look like this so I can take photos for later paintings.

For those of you who never heard of Fiuggi, it's a mountain town noted for it's mineral water. Way back in time, even the early Popes would go there to drink & bathe in the water. It is said that the water is healing and helps break up kidney stones.

The hotel we are staying in is a newer one...resort spa conference center. I'm hoping it's not too far from "Old Fiuggi"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Count Down

THREE days and counting. So the last time I took this photo  with me
 The photo is of my grandparents Giovanni and Beatrice Iori (Nee Pannone) and Zio Nazzareno Pannone .

The reason I did that was because my Dad told me that his Dad (Giovanni) would cry every time he heard the song Arriverderci Roma because he was home sick.  So I decided maybe I couldn't take them back physically but I could in spirit. So in 2008 they went to Rome and Assisi.  I took pictures of them all over both towns and even threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain for their return (I guess it worked huh?)   This year I am going to Rome and Fiuggi, the town they were born. 

Taken the day of my parents wedding
I'm also going to take this photo. My Dad (2nd in from the right) always wanted to go to Fiuggi. I wanted him to go with us in 2008 but my Mom didn't want to go and wouldn't let him go. I remember how he teared up as he fought back tears. He said, "I should have gone with Fausto. He always asked me and I never went."  

Well Dad now, I'm taking you and your brothers and Aunt Nat (and Aunt Phyl not pictured here) all back in spirit. I love all of you and I hope you all enjoy your trip with us. For Uncle Vito the first
one from the left, it will be back to the town he was born. Since he is in the photo, I am also taking my cousin Sonny (the little kid in the middle). He wasn't Italian (he's Polish on Mom's side) and he's also in heaven with Dad but I figured Sonny might enjoy the trip anyway. Maybe one day, Sonny, I'll take you to Plock, Poland where our grandparents on that side were from.

In the meantime I'm really excited about going to Fiuggi (not that I'm not excited about the canonziation of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII). 

 I cannot wait to walk the streets where my grandparents were born and to visit the church where they were married. It's been a lifetime dream for me as I have worked on my genealogy over the years. My dream come true in 3 days and counting......
come with me on this journey as I blog along the way. Love you all.....

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Best Laid Plans!

It has been fun. I put a weather app on my phone and added the weather of Rome and Fiuggi along with my location (Pasadena, MD). Every now and then I check on it. For a while the weather in Rome was always 5 degrees cooler and Fiuggi 10 degrees cooler (it is in the mountains) than here.

Today I checked it out. It is 41 degrees here 62 in Rome and 52 in Fiuggi. It looks like the forecast for this weekend is in the 60's here, in the 70's in Rome and in the 60's in Fiuggi.

 I thought I had this all figured out so I would know exactly what to pack.

It's the "best laid plans of mice and men" as they would say.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Suitcase is packed!

It's 10 days away and my suitcase is packed....I've been watching the weather in Rome and Fiuggi. Rome has typically been 5 degrees cooler than here and Fiuggi has been 10 degrees cooler.

The challenge is packing light because I am a clothes horse when it comes to packing. Well you know I might decide I don't want to wear that particular outfit or it might get cold or warm or whatever. I always have an excuse and end up with 2 outfits per day. But I have restricted myself to 1 outfit per day that's it. So if it's cold or hot well I guess I'll have to deal with it.

I remember the last time I was in Italy that everyone was dressed up. Even if they had jeans on, everything else on them was dressy so I'm leaving home blue jeans and tennis shoes. I hope I don't regret leaving those tennis shoes home since Fiuggi is on a mountaintop!

Googled what not to wear in Italy. I had no idea that Purple was insulting and bad luck. I had to go remove an item out of the suitcase.

I was thinking today that I'm so glad I didn't buy purple luggage. Recently my husband and I bought new luggage and I said to him we should purchase something other than black because every time we fly and try to find our luggage it blends in with everyone elses. So this time I bought a dark teal luggage but we almost bought purple....I would have been tossed out of the Rome airport! LOL