Embracing our roots

Riarda, Caserta, Campagnia, IT

The entire family, three grand babies under 4, four grand children, twins 17, two more age 19 and 22, daughter and her husband, two sons and their wives plus Tommy and I made for 15 traveling from Jacksonville, Florida to Naples Italy 5,176 miles as the crow flies in 14.5 hours.

Our plans to celebrate Tom’s 60th journey around the earth brought us to Naples where we would stay for two days exploring Riardo, Caserta and our family roots and a guided tour of Pompeii. Next, a week at Villa Antonella, our lux vacation home in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Day trips were planned to the Isle of Capri, Positano and a full day on a 50 foot yacht cruising the Isle of Capri with hope of a dip in the Blue Grotto. A trip most could only dream of.

We feel so extremely blessed. I believe there is a purpose behind this trip that will one day be revealed. But, for now, we must breathe it all in, every moment, every unexpected scent of truffle, every landscape of God’s creation. And, we will do it together, making memories that will last a lifetime of laughter, meals, family games, trips, sunsets, mountains, moments.

Just two weeks prior to our trip we were given the pathology results from my lung resection to remove three tumors that the doctors believed were lung cancer. They shockingly reported the cells were consistent with pancreas cancer. The news hit us hard in the gut. The pancreas cancer had metastasized to my lungs. Now the trip took on even more meaning.

Our hotel was situated in the center of Naples overlooking the port. When we explained to our driver what we were doing, he was sure to point out a beautiful but vacant building at the edge of the port where Luigi Zitiello passed thru in 1906 before boarding the ship that would carry them to their destination, in his case Ellis Island. We shared our research and the addresses we wished to locate once we arrived in Riardo. He seemed to share in our excitement and was eager to help us.

We spent some time sitting in the piazza and just walking the cobblestone steps where Tom’s ancestors had walked before us. My heart was filled as I watched our children and grandchildren stare at the beauty of this ancient city, near Caserta, the home of the Royal Palace.

Those many conversations with Tommy’s Dad about his family at my breakfast table while I reviewed Ancestry hints for accuracy had paid off. We had found our way to the root of our children’s family tree. It was a day I will never forget.

On the steps in Riardo

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