I was born in a little town just outside New York City, called
Brooklyn. My mother was born in Salemi, Sicily and arrived in the United States via Ellis Island in 1907. She arrived with her mother and 3 siblings (Vito,Vita & Celestino). Grandpa Pietro, had come to the United States the year before. He journied to San Fransico to help in the rebuilding of the city after the earthquake of 1906. He returned to New York because of a family illness and stayed there until his death in 1937. The family resided in the area, built a home and then later sold the home and purchased a small apartment house in the Bensonhurst area. It can be said that I was made in Brooklyn with Italian parts. After a stint in the US Navy I returned to Brooklyn and then after a few years decided I wanted my family to grow up in the wide open spaces of Arizona.
Naturally I was raised with Italian traditions and felt that if I bled it would have been olive oil with some blood. In the December of my years I felt that I had to fulfill my dreams of seeing Italy, and of course Sicily, where my mother was born. In the fall of 2000 my dreams came true. I had been to many places in the Navy, but Italy was not one of them. I could not believe the friendliness of the people and the magnificent beauty of the country. I only wish that I had learned the Italian language when I was young, but that didn’t appear to be a problem as everyone was more than willing to get someone that could speak English.
While preparing for our trip I Googled my mothers surname “Scalisi” in Salemi, Sicily. I located 19 Scalisi’s with phones but no email connection. I discovered a Scalisi in Milano who had an email address. I mentioned that I did not read, write or speak Italian and hoped that we could communicate. As luck would have it he spoke English quite well and hence the emails began. Of course I asked if he knew any Scalisi’s in Salemi, Sicily. He replied that he was born in Torino but that his father was born in Salemi. After a few emails we discovered that Antonio Scalisi’s father, Vito, was born in Salemi. Then the big reveal, his grandfather and my grandfather were brothers. Therefore, out of sheer luck, I found a second cousin in Milano. We met Antonio and his wife Mariagrazia. After a few days with our new cousins, my wife and I continued our adventure and did some sightseeing throughout Italy. We all met in Palermo and off to Salemi we went. Nino (Antonio) had spent a few years in that town and lived in Palermo for a few years. It was a thrill to be able to visit places that my mother and her family lived and built their futures.
In 2006 my wife, Barbara, and I renewed our wedding vows on our 40th Anniversary in the same church where my mother was baptized.
My love of Italy brought out my photographic talents of which I will share with you.
Goda della foto (Enjoy the photo’s)