Monday, January 19, 2015

Back to Rome,
One night in a "No Tell" hotel,
and Home Sweet Home

In this post we visit an old friend in Sulmona, and drive to the outskirts of Rome for our last evening in Italy. We get our Fiat safely back to the airport, fly home, and reflect on our wonderful adventure and great genealogical finds, summarized below.

Today we woke up with mixed feelings of nostalgia and anticipation. We have been away for a while and it will be good to return home, yet we have been on an incredible adventure and it will be sad to see it end. Brunetta and Bepe prepared another wonderful breakfast for us, and we sat for a while enjoying the beautiful view of the Adriatic. We bid farewell to our hosts and set off towards Rome, to visit with old friends.

Our Hosts at Rifugiomare, Brunetta and Bepe

We first met our old friends, Italian natives, Peter and Anna Ventresca in our small hometown of Littleton, Massachusetts, many years ago. Peter and I were co-workers in the same company. Peter retired to Italy, and settled into his home town.  We were delighted to have the opportunity to see him and Anna again. We made arrangements, by email, to visit them in their newly constructed home close to the village of Sulmona. Sulmona is about half way between Chieti and Rome so this was a convenient stop for us.

Castello di Ventresca

Peter had told us to set our GPS to Vallelarga, another small village. So we did. The ride across Italy was wonderful. There were many snow capped mountains in view and once we left the autostrada, the road seemed to blend into the countryside. We were approaching the village and I began to wonder how I would actually find Peter's home from wherever the GPS landed us. I didn't need to worry.  When the GPS said, “arriving at destination”, I stopped the car. I looked around at all the old homes searching for someone to ask for help, and then, on a corner not 100 yards away, there was Peter, standing in the sunshine waiting for us to arrive.

Peter led us to his home which is, to say the least, quite a magnificent palace. Peter showed us the grounds, including his handmade rock garden maps of Italy and Massachusetts. He showed us all the rooms inside. He showed us the outdoor kitchen that was being finished by several workers.

the outdoor kitchen

Then, Peter and Anna took us on a tour of the village of Sulmona. There we came to a very extensive open market. We saw an example of an original Roman aqueduct, and many other very old structures. Then we were treated to lunch at a very nice restaurant.

Open Market in Sulmona - aqueduct in background

We returned to their home and had a wonderful time catching up on news. Finally, we bid farewell to our friends who got in their car to lead us in a convoy to the highway to Rome.

friends reunited in Sulmona

The ride to Rome became more and more hectic as we got nearer and nearer. Sophia (our GPS) let us down a few times, but we recovered and eventually found our way to the village of Frascati, to find our final B&B(?). This turned out to not be the best choice for our last evening. We picked Il Paradiso from a google map because it was outside the madhouse of Rome yet an easy shot to the airport in the morning.

Il Paradiso, Frascati Italy

What we didn't know was that at Il Paradiso the rooms were located directly over a pizzeria and pool hall. To put it nicely, this wasn't the best room we had on our trip, but the shower was spacious, and we managed to get a little sleep.

In the morning, we had our free continental breakfast and then completed the most harrowing drive of our trip; the ride to the airport. We successfully delivered the car to the Hertz lot, and then had about a three hour wait for our Alitalia jet back to Boston.

We collapsed into the chairs at the gate and nearly fell asleep as we reflected on where we had been and what we had accomplished.

I love it when a plan comes together

  • We met and received great help from an accomplished genealogist, Joe DeSimone.
  • We met our facebook cousin Pelligrino Mascolo and had a wonderful dinner with his parents
  • We saw two old family churches
  • We collected several family records at the Avellino Archivio di Stato.

Morte in Avella

  • We found the Sassano cemetery
  • We made friends while touring the old town built on a mountain
  • We met with Don Otello and found a remarkable marriage certificate, in Latin
  • We visited the Museum Del Cognome in Padula and met with Mormon genealogist Michele Carasciello
  • We retrieved several records from the Ufficio di Anagrafe
  • We met with Facebook cousin Oreste Barbella and his family

1734 Matrimony

Palo Del Colle
  • We attended a festival and toured the city with, now lifelong friend, facebook cousin Vito Tricarico
  • We saw the Palo del Colle cemetery
  • We got a personal tour of Bitonto and Bari with Domenico Tricarico
  • We met a real cousin, Angela Lattanzio
  • We retrieved some useful records from the Trani Archivio di Stato

Meeting cousin Angela

  • We saw ancestral churches
  • We saw ancestral streets
  • We were shown Foglios di Famiglia by a wonderful clerk in the Vasto Ufficio di Anagrafe
  • We found more records in the Chieti Archivio di Stato
  • We learned how to make “Wine Cookies”

Foglio di Famiglia

Put all this together with making dozens of new friends, visiting old friends, and seeing so many wonderful sights and you might gain a sense of how satisfied we are.

We landed in Boston and went quickly through customs. There at the luggage carousel was our daughter, waiting to bring us “Home Sweet Home”. We were certainly glad to get home, however, I must admit that now, as I write these final words some two months after our trip, a piece of my heart is still in Italy and I'm not at all certain that it will ever return.

We hope that this blog has inspired some of you.  We also want to make ourselves freely available to offer advice and encouragement to any of you that may have questions.  Our email is  Thank you for reading.


  1. Great article! My family is from "Lenola" about 65 miles south of Rome. We traveled there about 5 years ago. Truly amazing !!!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this post, Frank. I hope you also saw the earlier posts. This was one of the best vacations Gay and I have ever had. I couldn't tell you how much fun we had.