Monday June 6
I packed, had breakfast, checked out and said arrivederci to Signor Michele, who introduced me to his lovely wife. Antonella picked me up and we went to the commune, where I hoped to locate some records of my father’s family.
At first I was disappointed, because the woman at the desk said she was too busy to do any searching, and then Antonella explained that she is more of a secretary, and that there is a man called an “anagrafi,” who actually searches for the records. If we could find him, he would be the one to help us. Luckily he appeared at that moment, and by coincidence, he is Pasqualina’s brother-in-law.
So we went to the record room, where I saw rows of record books and wondered whether I would find what I wanted. This man, whose name is Giacomo Lombardi, was not only very nice but extremely helpful and patient. He spent quite a bit of time with us and located some birth records from 1816 as well as verifying births to 1792. However there are no records in Colle d’Anchise that go back as far as 1792, with the earliest being 1815 or so, which was not surprising to me. I appreciated the information he found, and also Antonella’s help in communicating.
From what he could find, the birth record I had hoped to find, the one of my grandfather, Roberto Longano, is not here. It looks like Campobasso may be where his 1884 birth was registered. Since his marriage records states that he lived in Colle d’Anchise, but was born in Campobasso, Giacomo said that the record must be in Campobasso. I will have to e-mail the municipio there and see if they can locate it.
Antonella stopped at Don Fredy’s so I could drop off a thank you note, and then took me to the train station in Boiano. I had a couple hours to wait but that gave me an opportunity to write. Today would be a long travel day, as there are three trains involved to arrive in Ostuni, which is in the “heel” of Italy, in the region called Puglia. Hopefully there would be no mechanical problems on the trains today.
The first train from Boiano to Caserta went smoothly, and in Caserta I found my next train, on which I had a reserved seat. The train was full and a man was in my seat and insisted he was not moving. In hindsight, I should have said nothing and tried to find another seat, maybe even in another car. Instead I spoke to the train authority, a woman, who informed me that my ticket was invalid because I had mistakenly bought it for the wrong date. So I was the one who was wrong, not the man in the seat.
She told me that I could get off at the next stop and buy another ticket, an option I did not want since I had no idea when the next connections might be. My other option was to pay an additional 50 euros on the train. She told me to find a seat for now and she would be back. I found a seat and started saying “Hail Mary’s,” partly because I felt bad for making a scene, and partly hoping that she would not be back to check the ticket.
Anyway this was a three hour train ride and I never saw the woman again, or anyone else to check the ticket. Since I have been in Italy, I have learned more than ever to never underestimate the power of prayer. A kind gentleman sitting next to me on this train warned me to remove my jewelry before arriving in Bari, because people have been known to pull it off. I did as he suggested, having remembered warnings from my son David about Bari being dangerous for pickpockets.
At the station in Bari I quickly located my binario (platform) and immediately went there and waited for my train to Ostuni. I made sure to be even more aware of my surroundings than I normally am, and everything was fine. On the train to Ostuni, the conductor checked the tickets, but my ticket was fine for this part of the trip.
Once I arrived in Ostuni, there was a shuttle bus which took me to the centro storico for 80 euro cents and dropped me off right in front of my hotel. I met a very likeable 19 year-old Italian girl on the bus. Her name was Lucia, she spoke English very well and she works in a pub near the Cathedral. I told her I would see her again. She comes from Brindisi, and recently moved to Ostuni since she was able to find a job here.
My hotel is beautiful, the Ostuni Palace. I had a wonderful dinner there, trying a local specialty, fazzoletti, which was homemade pasta made with buckwheat and was shaped like ravioli. They were filled with ricotta and pancetta and mixed with tomatoes and arugula. It was delicious.