♦ October = Italian-American Heritage Month ♦

Let's Go to Italy Together!♦ Their Story is My Story ♦

Dual citizenship

Coming full circle…

“We all grow up with the weight of history on us.  Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.”
~Shirley Abbott
Unanswered questions
Detective work

♦ October is celebrated as Italian-American Heritage Month in the United States. ♦

“Every year the U.S. president signs an executive order designating the month of October as National Italian American Heritage Month. Coinciding with the festivities surrounding Columbus Day, the proclamation is recognition of the many achievements, contributions, and successes of Americans of Italian descent as well as Italians in America.
Over 5.4 million Italians immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1992. Today there are over 26 million Americans of Italian descent in the United States, making them the fifth largest ethnic group.* The country was even named after an Italian, the explorer and geographer Amerigo Vespucci.
As Americans, we acknowledge the determination and achievements of Italians within the United States. It is our understanding that during the month of October, Italian Americans are given recognition because they play a vital role in altering the political, social,and economic aspect of our country.”
(Source: Marist College, NY)

(*In an effort to confirm these statistics, I found slightly varying numbers and percentages but you get the idea.)
Let's Go to Italy Together!

♦ Reflecting with Humility, Gratitude and Pride ♦

As you may know from my previous writings, I am an Italian-American. My roots are 100% Italian. All of my grandparents immigrated to America with those other millions of Italians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

They came from remote hill towns in Toscana (Tuscany) and Sicilia (Sicily). They made arduous journeys across the ocean and started a new life…my paternal Sicilian grandparents in New York and my Tuscan maternal grandparents in California. They same with hope and a willingness to work hard.

I never knew them. Well, when I was little my maternal Nonno was alive but he died when I was young. I have very few photos and fewer stories to tell. I didn’t ask questions until a few years ago. And it was too late to get answers. Everyone was gone including my parents.

Sharing my “roots” story and path to dual citizenship several years ago, I recounted how my journey unfolded. It has been two years since I received my Passaporto Unione Europea, Repubblica Italiana. And it was last year that my journey took me to the birthplaces of all of my grandparents…a profound and emotional experience…

Let's Go to Italy Together!

♥ Courage, Sacrifice, Hope ♥

So many questions! Why? How? No answers. Only imaginings.

Visiting the remote hill towns in Tuscany (Castiglione di Garfignana and Pieve Fosciana) and Sicily (Castelvetrano and Nicosia), I tried to envision what they were like over 100 years ago…

 Castiglione di Garfagnana, Tuscany

My maternal grandmother’s birth town, Castiglione di Garfagnana, Tuscany

Castiglione di Garfagnana, Tuscany

From a remote hill town in Tuscany to America…

Castiglione di Garfagnana, Tuscany

Retracing my story…

What was their life was like? And the story of their desire and hope for a better life that inspired them to find a way to the faraway ports of Genoa and Naples?  The strength and motivation to make a difficult and what must have been a harrowing voyage…

Galata Museo del Mare in Genoa (Liguria)

Galata Museo del Mare: “Memories and Migrations” -the Immigration section, Genoa (Liguria)

Not only visiting the towns of their birth but the “Memories and Migrations section of the Galata Museo del Mare in Genoa and the private Museo Paolo Cresci in Lucca really brought home the harsh reality of what the voyage was like for them and millions of others. From the photos and memorabilia, the stark truth of their plight is in black and white…and it is as striking as it is touching and unforgettable.

The Immigration Museum in Lucca (Tuscany)

Museo Paolo Cresci, the Immigration Museum in Lucca (Tuscany)

♦ ♥ ♦

And Here I Am…

Somehow, fate brought my handsome young father to California where he met my lovely mother and…here I am. Humble and grateful for the courage, sacrifice and passion that gave me this life.

How I wish I could embrace all of them and express my gratitude, pride and admiration. And, yes, my heartfelt love. So, I send my wish to the heavens and honor their memory and the memory of all those whose story is my story…

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Learn More About Italian-American Organizations:

Office of the Consulate General of Los Angeles, United States
Istituto Italiano di Cultura Los Angeles 
National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)
National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW)
Order of Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) 
UNICO National 

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 published book, "Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style!" and then let's go to Italy together!
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9 Responses to ♦ October = Italian-American Heritage Month ♦

  1. What a wonderful story, Victoria… I’m so glad I could be with you when you visited your ancestors hometown in Sicily last year

  2. I absolutely love this post and am so glad I was able to travel with you in Sicily as you explored your roots there

  3. Ellen Chapman says:

    Inspiring, particularly as I am now pursuing dual citizenship. FYI Puglia was my first experience in Italy with a month in a language immersion in Lecce. It will always be my first love. Going back in May. Grazie Victoria.

    • Ellen,
      Grazie for visiting and commenting! Congrats on pursuing dual citizenship – definitely worth it for so many reasons. When did you go to Puglia? Which language school? Maybe I’ll see you there next May? I take small groups 2x year and 2018 will be my 4th year. LOVE it.Entertaining longer stays in Italy.
      Prego – stay in touch!
      Victoria

  4. When I went to visit Ragusa, home of my Occhipinti ancestors, it felt like home to me. I wish everyone could experience this! It is truly worth getting to know the language and culture of our ancestors.

  5. I can imagine how emotional the visits to your grandparents villages must have been…what an amazing journey you’ve made. Learning so much and hopefully, feeling much more “conntected” to them than ever.

    • Phyllis,
      Absolutely true. Humbled, deeply touched, and very grateful!
      A deep appreciation for their courage- how I wish I knew all of their story… But also motivated to share their story which I know is the story of millions of others as well.
      Definitely life-changing…

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