Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bel Paese

After a little absence of two weeks, returning home from Italy, I decided to write a short personal post.
Normally, I prefer to keep it more of a professional blog rather than a personal one, but I came away from this visit to Italy where I was born with a bitter sweet feeling of sadness as well as happiness.
The two alabaster busts in this photo remind me of my sister and I when we were young. I just had to purchase them at a recent auction, and I am happy to say, they went for a song.
We went to Italy together, with our cousin, who is like our sister.

Our little village where we were born off in the distance, as seen through the leaves of the beautiful olive trees which dot the landscape everywhere.

Our family's property in the foreground as it appears today.Meticulous rows of well tended vines, and those gorgeous cypress trees.

My Mom left for Canada with the two of us to meet our father. The voyage took ten days by ship. I was two years old and my sister Micki was only two months old. She left with only a suitcase, filled with our belongings and a few of her mother's cooking utensils, alone with two little ones.

This is our maternal grandmother's house as it appears today, totally abondoned and boarded up.
Look at the beautiful door surround.  It must have been lovely in its day.

A fig tree brimming with fruit, has grown haphazardly out of what used to be the stable. The figs were so sweet and delicious and tasted like honey.

The bell tower of our church, Chiesa di San Martino.

The beautiful stone work and reliefs were still in perfect condition after both wars, and several earthquakes.

The old balcony on the house where we were born. I could picture my Mom
standing up there and chatting with her neighbours. 

Our street was called Vico Forno Vecchio, because it was the street of the local village bakery, which was run by our maternal grandfather.

A house similar to ours as it would be restored today. 

This sweet unknown couple, standing together and looking over the Arno in Florence evoked memories of my own parents as they too might have done.  My parents never did revist their homeland together, but this photo opportunity that was presented to me did suffice. I know they would be happy that I had come home to visit.
Bel Paese....beautiful village!
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  1. I just discovered your blog today! Brooke so kindly forwarded your email to her about my house!
    I adore your blog!

    This post gave me the chills! My husband's Grandfather "Nonno" came to San Francisco before the turn of the century from a small town just outside of Lucca; he was only 11 when he left home with two boys from the town the same age. I think they were 13 or 14 when they made it to San Francisco!

    During the war, (second), our Allied planes bombed all the bell towers in their region to keep them from communicating. My husband (Adamo Bianchi II named after his Nonno) and I went to see the town and the church. His grandfather donated the money to rebuild the bell tower; and there is a lovely plaque on it thanking him. We also have a beautiful hand-painted scroll thanking him. I will have to take a picture of the scroll; and find the picture of the plaque!

    He became a very successful man in San Francisco; starting the commercial poultry business on the west coast; one of the other boys started the vineyards in Napa Valley, and the third one founded the "Bank of Italy" which became the Bank of America! Three little boys sent to the "new world"at such a young age!


    Thank you for your kind words about our house. It is true. Every single thing in it has a story!!
    You are quite intuitive; as is Brooke!!

    I am subscribing to your blog! I started one because of Brooke!

    Very sincerely,

    Penelope Bianchi

  2. Dearest Nella,

    What a beautiful story!
    And such gorgeous photographs put together to form an exquisite tale of your family and their history.
    I know your ancestors would be so proud of your work which honours them and their achievements.

    Never shy from sharing memories and making your blog more personal - people love the human interest behind the talented artist, as well as being able to share a bit of your life bridging long distances, among friends.

    Thank you for such a lovely moment in my day.

    Maggie Wareham

  3. Dear Nella,

    I have been privileged to hear your family's story before, but this post with all of the photos and your beautiful words makes it even more compelling...the image of your village in the distance thru the olive branch is particularly moving. Wonderful that you had this trip with your sister, rediscovering what will always be a part of you.


  4. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. The alabaster heads are stunning!

  5. Wow Nella, glad i found this. I enjoyed the pics and could imagine both your mom and dad, as well as our grandparents the entire time i read it. You have a gift in what you do! Thanks for sharing.

  6. This was a beautiful post, Nella. I can only imagine the feeling you must have had seeing the place where you lived and was born. I am always amazed at the courage and strength our parents had in moving to a country so far from their home. I know exactly how you feel when returning from Italy - I, too, experience that each time. Even though I never lived there, but I feel like I am at home whenever I visit that lovely town along the shores of Lago Maggiore where my parents are from. My entire being is at peace! Italy is in my blood, and I can only hope that one day I will be fortunate enough to call a little bit of it mine! Thanks for sharing your story.


Thank you for visiting my blog..... I love to hear from you and appreciate every comment received! N.xo