♥ My Italian Journey: My Tuscan Roots ♥

Let's Go to Italy Together!♥ La Dolce Vita Returns to Her Roots ♥

“Where you are is who you are. The further inside you the place moves, the more your identity is intertwined with it. Never casual, the choice of place is the choice of something you crave.” – Frances Mayes

I’ve always wanted to spend more time in Lucca and not only because it is an elegant and lovely town but because it is very close to my roots.

Visiting the nearby birthplaces of my maternal grandparents has long been a dream of mine…dreams come true!

Let's Go to Italy Together!

At last, on a beautiful fall day, September 27, around 9:30am, we set out from Bagni di Lucca. Our destination today is two hill towns in the Garfagnana.

So begins a day I have been planning and looking forward to for a very long time-at long last, today I will visit the towns where my maternal grandparents were born…

It was only a short time ago that I actually learned the names of these towns. I had done a lot of research about my roots on my paternal side (Sicilian) for my dual citizenship but knew that, after obtaining it, I wanted to learn more about my roots in Tuscany.

 I didn’t have  a lot to go on but after some digging, slowly a story has started to reveal itself-their story which, of course, is my story. 

The very small towns we would be visiting are: Castiglione di Garfagnana, birthplace of my grandmother, Natalina Lunardi;  and Pieve Fosciana, birthplace of my grandfather, Giovanni Bertolini.

Aside from dates of birth, death , names of their parents, and when they immigrated to America, I knew little else. My intention was never to find lost relatives, it was more about returning to the places where they were born and lived and perhaps learning a little bit more about the lives they lead before they left. 

Somehow, I suppose, I wanted to connect with them, to let them know that their granddaughter remembered them, wished she knew more of their story, and was very touched by their story and grateful for their courage.

We arrive first st Castiglione di Garfagnana which turns out to be a stunning medieval town…

Tuscany roots

Castiglione di Garfagnana…

Tuscany rootsWe begin by walking around the exterior of the fortress walls, then enter Porta del Ponte Levatoio which leads into the main square and to the municipal office (Municipio)…Tuscany rootsWe are very lucky – not only is it open, but the clerk, Cristina is more than helpful in trying to find my grandmothers records. She locates birth and even marriage records for my great great grandparents and some for my great grandparents  but not for my grandmother. It seems that, probably, her birth was recorded in a nearby comune, Collechio. Cristina kindly gives me her email address and, if I will email her with all the information I have, she will research more when she has the time. 

Grateful and touched by her kindness, we leave and continue our stroll through this very lovely place that is where a chapter of my story begins…Tuscany rootsTuscany rootsWandering, wondering, wishing just to touch the past,  to reach out to them and, I guess, to bring the story, our story, full circle.Tuscany roots

Although I am charmed and intrigued by this town and my connection to it, I know that life here was very difficult. Tuscany roots

My visit to Castiglione di Garfagnana ends with a cappuccino and visit with Pietro, Marco, Ottaviano, Virgilio & Franco.

Tuscany rootsSomething tells me I will return-I can certainly say I hope to…

 But now it is time to go a short distance down the road to Pieve Fosciano where my grandfather was born. 

As with Castiglione di Garfagnana, the narrow passages and streets are virtually deserted and here, too, I try to imagine what it was like to grow up in these small, remote towns in the late 19th century.Tuscany roots

Tuscany rootsFortuitously, we come across the office of the commune. It appears to be closed and, unable to find their hours, I take a chance and try to open the door… And it opens!

Tuscany rootsHearing voices, we walk down the hall and after a few minutes, two people leave and I a able to explain to the clerk. why I am there and what I am looking for.

It’s another stroke of luck-even though the office should be closed the clerk, Francesco, is kind enough to search for the records.

Tuscany rootsAnd this time I am very lucky-he finds the birth records of my grandfather and the address where he was born – which happens to be around the corner! He is also able to tell me when he married my grandmother! It’s hard to explain my emotions …

After giving me a copy of the record, Francesco is kind enough to walk with us to the address of my grandfathers birthplace… I, of course, wanted a photo with him and thanked him for his help.

Now, Cristina of Castiglione di Garfagnana and Francesco of Pieve Fosciana are part of my story, too…

Tuscany roots

Coming full circle …

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About PostcardZ from Victoria

Wish you were here! I love sharing my passion for travel and insights I've learned along the way. Enjoy my travel tips and inspiration with a lighthearted twist! Join me as we create a forum for sharing experiences and information! Enjoy my newly updated & edited book, "Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style!" with MORE great TipZ and then, let's go to Italy together!
This entry was posted in Boomer Travel, Chianti Country, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Dual Citizenship, Florence, Food Tourism, Growing Up Italian, Inspired Travel, Is a Tour for You?, Italian Culture, Italian Style, Italy Travel Tips, La Dolce Vita!, Lucca, Made in Italy!, Meet Local Artisans, MIlestone Celebrations, Multi-Generational Travel, Rewarding Sightseeing, Roots in the Boot, Siena, Solo Travel, The Savvy Traveler and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to ♥ My Italian Journey: My Tuscan Roots ♥

  1. Sheri says:

    Your emotions were palpable…so happy for you to be able to find your family history.

  2. Linda James says:

    What a lovely story, Victoria. You have inspired me to research my Italian roots. See you soon. Linda

  3. Sandra Brooks says:

    What a wonderful account of this exciting chapter of your life! That’s wonderful that you were able to discover more information about your grandparents and such valuable details. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Janey says:

    You are making my heart so warm with these stories. I am SO happy for you!!!!

  5. Paula says:

    What a wonderful outcome for you! I cannot even imagine how emotional you must have felt connecting with your grandparents and their origins. And what a beautiful area of Italy but yes they were brave to leave for a better life.

  6. Lovely story! So glad you were able to get the information you wanted!

    • Grazie, Sharon! Me, too, but the more I learn the more I want to know! We’ll see where the journey leads to next… I so appreciate you reading and commenting as sharing is a part of the journey that brings much gratification. 🇮🇹😊

  7. Sara Udstuen says:

    You are so fortunate to have so much info about your ancestors & to be able to visit their home towns. Such rare treasures. Thank you for sharing,

    • Sara,
      Fortunate, yes although it has involved a great deal of research – like putting together a puzzle. And there are still a lot of pieces missing.

      If you’re curious about your ancestry , I encourage you to do a little delving- it can be very rewarding.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my post.

  8. What an amazing story, and I can only guess at the myriad of emotions that you are feeling. So happy for you Victoria that you were able to complete this journey. :-) :-) How awesome!!! I think it is pretty incredible, that these tiny towns have offices and records such as these… that seems quite amazing to me. My guess would have been that you’d need to seek out a larger town that housed this type of thing. But oh so much more special for you that is not the case.

    • Rae,
      Thank you for “joining me”. As a matter of fact there are records in most of these villages-it’s pretty amazing!
      My journey is far from over, there’s more I want to find out and, of course, I have my father’s side in Sicily…stay tuned.

  9. Pingback: ♦Turning the Page on 2016...Hello 2017!♦ | PostcardZ from Victoria

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