May 24 Tuesday
We woke up in Colle d’Anchise and after breakfast, took a ride to the small town of Longano, which is approximately 45 km from Colle d’Anchise. None of our family came from the town of Longano, that we know, but we wanted to see the village that has our name.
When we arrived we found a beautiful small village nestled up in the hills and we parked in the piazza and started to walk around.
This commune of 700 people was very clean, with flowers on doorsteps and balconies, like in so many other Italian villages we have seen.
The views of the mountains and countryside were phenomenal, and everything was very green. In the distance we saw snow on a mountain top.
Some of the people had features resembling my grandparents, although many had blue eyes.
I think all three of us fell in love with the people here because everyone we met was so friendly and happy.
In the square men were sitting on the church steps talking, and a fruit truck was there for anyone wanting to buy fruit.
The town was full of hills and we saw the local people working in their gardens, and hanging out their laundry.
When we told them that we were Americans and that our name was Longano, they were so excited and couldn’t stop talking to us.
They treated us like VIP’s, inviting us to come and stay for a month and telling us that they would cook a pigeon for us. They were happy to say yes when we asked permission to take their photos, and several spoke some English and would speak to us and translate for the others. Within a short time it seemed that everyone in the town knew about us, and were talking about the Americans with the name of Longano. They could not have been any nicer.
After we left Longano we went to back to Colle d’Anchise, to the center and walked around, quickly locating the address, 10 Strada Campo di Maggio, which was where my grandpa’s father, Angelo Longano, died.
We saw a woman walking, and she was wearing a large scarf on her head that was wrapped to hold a large supply of greens. Another woman was outside cleaning fava beans.
I was supposed to meet Antonella, my 4th cousin, for the first time here. The first person I asked not only knew Antonella, but kindly called her on her cell phone and then informed me that she was Antonella’s mother! She also lived next door to the house where my grandmother was born, although later when we went to find the address, we were disappointed to find that there was no 14 Strada San Sisto.
When Antonella arrived in a few minutes, it was really great to finally meet her in person after having communicated only by Facebook and Skype these past months.
She was so friendly and is fluent in English. We toured the little village of Colle d’Anchise with her, and met her grandmother, who is 89 years old.
She was very kind and typically, she insisted we enter her home, and within minutes started preparing food. We felt bad but but we had to be firm in declining, and she wasn’t happy, so I had to promise to return when I am back in Colle d’Anchise in early June.
We walked to Antonella’s home, which is not in the center but more in the country, and spent a little time there. Although her home was small by American standards, it was very nice and of course very clean. Her husband Michele came home from work for lunch (He would then return to work after a few hours at home). They were very welcoming and it was nice being with family and seeing how they live.
Eventually we went back to our agriturismo and relaxed for awhile. Later, after her 4 year-old son, Gianluca, was home from school and had taken a nap, Antonella picked me up and we went to the center at Campo Aperto where there was a small park and playground. We spent time there while Gianluca played and I met some of Antonella’s friends. She knows everyone, as she has lived here since she was four years old and the village only has 900 people. Life is simple here, and the people seem happy. The post office is even easier, as there is only one person working and no lines. I sent a package from this post office and I was only in there for 15 minutes, so in these small towns, some things are easier.
While we were walking I met il parroccho, Don Fredy, the priest to whom I wrote regarding documents about my grandparents. He promised I can look through the books when I return and he will give me what he has researched. He was on his way to say Mass at one of the four churches here.
I met the rest of Antonella’s family, her sister Carolina, who manages the small groceria, and later we went to her mother’s home, where I met her younger sister Santina, who is a hairdresser. She is also very artistic, and sells some of her work, which was beautiful. They were all very nice and I left there with an invitation for dinner when I return in June.
Antonella drove me back to our agriturismo where I met Rick and Monica for dinner. Again it was like someone was cooking just for us, since we were the only ones there. It was wonderful personalized experience, and in fact our waiter brought me a cell phone with a call from Signor Michele, inquiring if everything was tutto bene! This was a great place to stay, and I am glad I will be returning next month!
On a side note I lost my passport somewhere between Catania and here and luckily had a copy. Between phone calls to Teresa and speaking to Antonella, Teresa discovered that I had left it at the Excelsior Grand Hotel in Catania. Antonella suggested that Teresa send it to her house and I could retrieve it when I return in early June. So Calogero who is a police officer in Catania picked it up and sent it to Antonella’s. Angela called me to tell me that Calogero had gotten it and sent it. So within 24 hours time thanks to my Sicilian friends, Teresa, Calogero and Angela (who is in Genoa), along with my cugina in Colle d’Anchise, Antonella, the problem has been solved!
More photos of Colle d’Anchise next.