Finding my Roots or ‘Benvenuto all’Italia’, Part 3
Part 3 of our Rediscovering My Roots series:
Monte Vidon Corrado
This is the reason for this whole trip. I’d known about my family’s birthplace for quite some time but had never had first person accounts of the place, so I knew little to nothing about it, other than it is a small town in Fermo province in the Marche region.
For anyone who can trace their roots to European countries like Italy, one can get in touch with the comunes where their family members lived and request information about them, be it birth certificates and other genealogy-related information as well as census related data, which are kept in their original books forever if they weren’t lost during the wars. As I had already obtained all this info long ago, I didn’t need to do much, but since I was always curious about everything, we decided to drop in unannounced and just show up at the municipio… which of course shut down their operations at 2PM so everyone can go home and nap.
As this is a 512 people town, we didn’t go unnoticed for more than 5 minutes and we were asked if we were lost. We were told everyone was done for the day, and we do mean everyone, as even the café/bar was shutting down at 4PM, but since the guy lived in the café he graciously accepted to let us in for an espresso and a chat. When we gave him the short story of my life and mentioned I was looking to find out about my family members, he laughed and mentioned he knew a whole bunch of Concetti (my dad’s mom’s last name), which if you think of it, it’s not surprising in a town of 512. We wrapped up our chat and left for the night to another city –Monte Vidon Corrado has no hotels.
Next morning, we made our way back to the town early, and we had to stop and wait for a big herd of sheep to clear the road. Yes, that is the kind of town my family originated from, which I guess explains why I ended up with a degree in Agribusiness.
We parked our little Fiat and walked all of 30 seconds till we got to the comune, which was open this time. We walked in and were greeted in the traditional Italian style, “what are you doing here?”. Of course, this is a town in the middle of nowhere, so they really do not get the chance to receive many visitors, especially from overseas. We explained the reason for our visit to a lady who happened to be the town’s police woman, who said she’d take us to the person in charge of pretty much everything. She was surprised to see anyone visiting from so far away but she was happy to help, even though their English skills were not much better than my lacking Italian. There were 4 people working inside the comune and they were all trying to help us. Luckily, one of the employees had done a study abroad program in Spain and he was fully fluent in Spanish so we managed to communicate flawlessly.
Romina, the woman in charge, asked him to pull out the 1882 year book, where my great grandfather’s birth would have been recorded. While we did that, she picked up the phone and dialed someone; I understand enough Italian to pick up that she was asking someone to come over.
After scanning all the pages, with the utmost care since the book was over 130 years old, we found him. It listed all the relevant information like relatives, their ages, their occupations and their address! That’s when someone else showed up and introduced himself to us as the sindaco. I at that point had no idea what on earth that meant, but thank god for google translate, who helped us realize that means ‘mayor’. As it turns out, his name was Giorgio Concetti so I ended up being a long lost relative of my family’s home town’s mayor. We laughed at the chances of that ever happening, said goodbye to everyone and profusely thanked them for their time, and then headed to the addressed that was listed on the birth certificate.
As it happened, once upon a time, around 1840, my family lived in this town atop a beautiful rolling hill where they cultivated the land, mainly olive trees and grape vines (I know, how cliché) and they lived in a small brick house with terracotta tiled roof. The house has no doubt seen better times, as all that remains is a pile of, well, remains, but I bet the pasta they had every Sunday for lunch with all the famiglia must have been exquisite. This opened my eyes, or at least reminded me that we don’t just travel for the luxury, or the thrill of gaming the system or because we want to discover new places (which we do!) but that sometimes we travel to discover a bit more about ourselves.