Monday, February 24, 2020

Ortona dei Marsi | Abruzzo

Our first stop in central Italy's Abruzzo region is off the well traveled path to the tiny village of Ortona dei Marsi. Nestled in the lush mountainside, made of stone and steeped in time, this is the magical place where Bob's maternal grandparents are fromThey came to America when they were 18. 

Bob's grandfather Juliano DiCiccio came to America (Brockton, MA) first when he was 16. He traveled back to Italy to see his family and was drafted to the war. It was during this time he fell in love with Virgo Maria Albanese and when the war was over they moved to America together. They had 4 children - Angelina, Lucia, Rita (Bob's mom) and Valentino. Lina and Val died fairly young so I did not know them. I knew Lucy briefly before she passed last year at age 91. Rita is going strong at 88! [The Luiso's are from the Bari Region of Italy which is further southeast. Bari is on the bucket list for another trip!]

The locals we met did not speak English but we did our best to communicate. We took in the beautiful 14th century church of St. John the Baptist, sipped cappuccino in the towns single cafe and explored the steep and worn-in-time yet utterly charming streets. 
We were able to locate some "relatives" with his maternal grandmothers maiden name, Albanese! When we loosely put together the family tree this made sense - Albanese stuck around because his grandmother had brothers, but DiCiccio faded as his grandfather only had sisters. Is the younger woman in the photo a distant Albanese relative? Perhaps! 

My paternal grandmother Julia Infante was Italian. She passed at the age of 88 in 2006. I believe the Infantes are from the Abruzzo Region but I don't know any more than that.

His little 6 month old faces - I can't! 
Just sipping a Cappuccino with my Mom + Dad, taking in my Italian heritage!

Our impromptu stop after a long days journey from Praiano --> Sorrento (where we picked up our rental car) --> Pompeii --> L'Aquila (province in Abruzzo) was genuinely amazing. To explore a little bit of family history, to imagine Camden's great grandparents as kids playing in these stone streets and to embrace Bob's families true Italian roots. Ortona dei Marsi tucked into a lovely corner of Abruzzo shows us a different part of Italian life.