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Enter at your own risk an eclectic journey through a cluttered mind, streaming consciousness, not to be understood by all, but freed by me to you...

Sunday, August 08, 2010


http://picasaweb.google.com/librarypictures1305/ItalianMonnoZappa# Genealogical photos! We had our annual Italian family reunion today at Lake Phalen Pavilion. Probably only 75 showed because of the heat, humidity and temperature of 96 degrees!!!! I made 2 large pans of eggplant parmesan, brought my computer for photo slideshow set up, brought 10 books of pictures from the six trips to Italy I have made, brought the entire family tree printed and mounted, especially their birth certificates, their marriage certificate, their naturalization certificate, the ship they were on and what port they disembarked, and brought table top books on Portofino and the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre (the 5 towns of Monterossa al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore). You can only access these five hill towns by water, train, or paying for walking between all of them. I spent 4 days there in 2006 with members of my Italian class. They are the most incredible places in Italy, including nearby Rapallo where we stayed when Gina's Mounds View Orchestra performed in a 10 day tour of Tuscany. Jennie Ranelli went along, I chaperoned and Gina played her viola. She started playing in 4th grade. We stayed in Rapallo and took a ferry to Portofino. She played in the Cathedral of Vienna and we almost froze to death. It was spring break for them. Then they played in the best place, Cortona! It was less difficult to chaperone this group than when I did the same thing in the 5th grade. This same orchestra I chaperoned on a trip to Sea World and Disney World, when they were 10 year olds, all 64 of them. We went to Cocoa Beach & Cape Canaveral. I told they to buddy up but Shruti Mathur had to go way out into the ocean by herself and I had to go in fully dressed to get her out. I gave her a 10 minute timeout on the beach and her parents came to our home and wanted an explanation. Obviously they didn't get the idea she could have come back in a body bag, or be lost forever in an undertow. Since all of our clothes were packed in the bus, I had to ride from Florida all the way home to Minnesota in wet clothes. We had 2 bus drivers who traded off driving. This wonderful group of students performed on an outdoor stage next to the water. We stayed in Kissimee, Florida.

Going back to the 2006 trip, my Italian class spent 4 days in Venice. I stayed by myself on Giudecca (Jewish) Island, where the ghettoes were from WWII, in an ostello. My friends were in the high-rent district. I only had to pay 90 euros for 4 nights but I had to sleep on the top bunk with no ladder (I found a chair and used it to climb up). It was like a youth hostel open all night. I had a locker for my backpack & breakfast was minimal. I would meet my friends every morning at the Piazza San Marco where they were staying in Venice, by the Doge's Palace. We also took the train to Padua to see the  Scrivogni Chapel with Giotto's frescoes & then Church of St. Anthony, where the collonades with the long shadows were phenomenal.
Since I had left my classmates to travel with 2 friends, Joyce & Kent Teibel, from college who were going to their ancestral home and needed my help translating (Haha!) We went to the Casci home in Filecchio and stayed in nearby Barga. There Kent met his former math student from Hill-Murray High School eons ago. I had stopped because I heard someone speaking in English! None of the Casci's were home. My friends' luggage was almost stolen at the train station. It was being taken off the train by men (dressed in railroad uniforms) who were "trying" to help them and thankfully the real train men caught the frauds in time. They were pretty shaken about that but by the time we met in Orvieto they were okay. Here we had been on the same train, in different cars, and I spotted them when they got off onto the platform. From there Rick Steeves gave us the idea to stay at Citta di Bagnoregio, a town of just a total of 12 people and no cars allowed. My friends had made reservations long in advance for 2 rooms. You had to haul yourself on a VERY LONG bridge. It looked like a part of the Great Wall of China. It was the most beautiful little town in the world, with only 3 rooms to rent, and the skeleton keys were the same for each room. It was the top of a mountain and very small, obviously, since there were only a few shops and a few homes. Every person seemed ancient and showed us their original winemaking equipment, etc from over a hundred years ago. Bed and breakfast was quaint and wonderful, with church bells chiming in the background.

I only wish I had some relatives to connect with my maternal side. They came from Ateleta, in L'Aquila. Nobody from this large family reunion knows anyone there either.
Some people at the reunion liked the style of photos I had taken: store window displays, open food markets, fish just being caught, nude beaches, bouganvilla falling from windows, green shuttered pink homes, unique doorways and unparalled stairwells, & people. The people watching is the best, the people are so warm if you try to speak Italian to them. The motorcycles are awesome and so are the mini cars. The flea markets are fun, too. I got a Versace scarf for my mom and a Mossimo for myself. That was my only splurge, excluding the three week trip itself. I flew alone to Vienna. I stayed with my cousin, Pat Benham, for two day until my Italian classmates arrived from Budapest, where their trip started. My cousins from North Oaks had just moved there for work. We went to a Strauss performance, the Royal Palace and its gardens, and then a playground where children actually drive real excavation equipment and push dirt and trees around. Then we went to some kind of rope climbing equipment sports place where you have to be strapped in like a chair and travel all over the huge equipment. It was scary. After that we had real, Italian pizza.
I am an incredibly lucky person. Then I left the Teibel's and went to Avezzano where my father's extended family treated me like royalty. Gabriele Ciutti, author of La Presentosa, http://ilreporter.splinder.com/ hired an interpreter for the day, put me up at the Principe Torlonia Hotel, hosted a 7 course dinner with over 30 relatives for me at the Pinquino Avezzano Village, and drove me to Sulmona to see my great Aunt Elsa Fallavolita, and then drove me to Rome to stay with my great Aunt Anna Sorci's grandchildren, Paolo, Erminia Pappa & Lavinia Pappa, also her sister, Simona, and husband Roberto Tomassini and daughter Alice.



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