The first time we visited Colle Sannita, in May 2003, we had no idea if any relatives lived there. We had a strange adventure in the town which I explain on our Honeymoon site. When we returned in April 2005, we learned that the town was overflowing with my relatives. We arranged to meet Maria Paolucci, who is a first cousin of my father although she is closer to my age. She graciously took us from house to house all day and into the night, meeting cousin after cousin. If we had more time, there would have been more cousins!
Here are some photographs from that visit.
Colle Sannita piazza.
We did not go into the town on our second trip, but we visited several houses in the countryside.
DiAnn and cousin Maria Paolucci.
Maria shows me the view from her dining room.
Maria Paolucci, her husband Angelo Nigro and DiAnn.
Maria brings DiAnn and Paul to the home where Angelo grew up (behind this house) for coffee and cookies.
The home of Lucia and Gennaro Pilla.
Gennaro is the grandson of another Gennaro Pilla, my great great grandfather This makes him a first cousin to my grandfather, Pietro Iamarino. Pictured are Lucia and Gennaro Pilla, Maria Paolucci and DiAnn. Lucia delighted DiAnn and Paul with homemade cheese, Italian ham, wine and baby asparagus.
The home of Esterina Paolucci and Carmine Nista.
Carmine deals in architectural antiquities, many of which are located on the farthest part of their property.
Maria Paolucci (center) and her sister Esterina (right).
Maria and her Esterina point out the location of the front doorstep of the house where my grandfather grew up. The house had to be razed after a 1960's earthquake caused irreparable damage. The location is a few feet from Esterina's house.
View from the Hill.
From the hilltop where my grandfather Pietro Iamarino's childhood home once stood, you can see the distant town of Basélice, childhood home of my other grandfather, Adamo Leone. Amazingly, each man travelled separately to America, wound up living one block apart, and their children married one another.
Looking in another direction.
Three sisters and their American cousin.
Maria Paolucci is joined by her sisters Elvira and Esterina to greet DiAnn. The sisters provided a wonderful meal.
Francesco and Antonio Paolucci and their wives.
More homemade wine and delicacies! Antonio Paolucci, pictured second from the right, spent some time working in England, so although he did not let on at first, he spoke perfect English...with an English accent. Although his last name is Paolucci, he is related to the three Paolucci sisters through his mother and theirs. He is a Pilla descendant, as is everyone we met on this trip.
DiAnn with Libera Piacquadio.
Our last stop of the night, because it was so late, was another of my grandfather's first cousins. Libera Piacquadio made sure to tell us to visit her daughter and grandchildren, each of whom owns a restaurant in the city of Benevento.
Inside the amazing Pizzeria Romana.
We did visit Libera Piacquadio's daughter and grandchildren in Benevento. Libera's granddaughter Maria Pozzuto and her husband Mario Gigante own a coffee shop directly across the street from the Benevento train station. We met Maria and had some capuccino. (Maria also speaks English with a lovely English accent because her family once lived there.) Then we went further into town and found Pizzeria Romana, owned by Libera's grandson Vincenzo Pozzuto and his wife Lina. Pictured above are Lina, DiAnn, Innocenzo Pozzuto (father of Maria and Vincenzo and son-in-law of Libera Piacquadio) and Vincenzo Pozzuto, maker of the very best pizza in the world. When you go, tell him his American cousin DiAnn sent you!
Pasqualina Paolucci behind the bar with DiAnn.
Finally we met Libera's daughter, Pasqualina Paolucci, at her restaurant, the Bar Orchidea. We saw her husband Innocenzo again while we were there. Pasqualina serenaded us with her concertina. We can't wait to go back.