Friday, March 18, 2016

Donald Seghieri peers into the past in a visit to the home of his grandfather

Don and Kathy in front of an original wall and an old window
that has been decorated and converted to a mirror.
I kind of took my cousins for granted in my younger days. Of the seven families in our neighborhood, six were related. The cousins that didn’t live in my neighborhood I saw at school or family gatherings, or just ran into them around Gig Harbor. Now that I’m much older, I realize how special it was to have an extended family, people who grew up with a common heritage. Some of my cousins lived farther away and I didn’t even know about them until recently, such as third cousin Don Seghieri, who came up from California for a family reunion a few years ago (see Finding a lost Seghieri and solving questions of mysterious visits). Now Don and some of his family have now come to Tuscany to see where Don’s grandfather came from.

We were able to tour the left side of the old house of Egidio Seghieri and his parents Egisto Seghieri and Virginia Giuntoli.
Don and his wife Kathy, along with Kathy’s brother Jay and Jays wife Cathy, are staying at the Casolare dei Fiori agriturismo, using it as a home base to explore the area. We went with them Sunday afternoon to see the house where Don’s grandfather, Egidio Seghieri, lived before he came to America in 1905. Don had sent me the address two years ago, and I had gone to the house then to take some photos to send him. At the time, I noticed some construction starting on one end of the house.
The same house, viewed in April of 2014.

Don touches an old beam.
We drove into the yard to take some photos of the exterior, and immediately we felt self conscious, because there was a girl playing in the yard, and her dad was working outside. Don turned the car around to get ready to make a quick exit in case they shooed us away. Meanwhile, I hopped out of the car to explain what we were doing. The man, Signor Annibale (I have forgotten his first name) and his wife Barbara immediately invited us all inside, so I relayed the message to our group, and we took a twenty-minute tour hosted by one of the friendliest Italian families we have ever encountered.

Jay, Cathy, Lucy, Kathy, Paul, Don
They had purchased the western half of the house about three years ago and have been working on their part ever since. The yard and house exterior have been completely made over, and it looks sensational. Inside was just as impressive, with new wall surfaces and new windows, and floors cleaned up. Where possible, they left parts of the old walls and fireplace visible out of respect for their history. The roof tiles are all new, but the original beams, rafters and joists are still in place and visible. Barbara even saved one of the old window frames and expertly repainted it and put a mirror in place of the glass.
Knowing that my grandfather lived in this particular house had special meaning to me,” Don said. “It gave me chills to pass through the same rooms, walk the same long dirt driveway and see where he cooked his meals. My grandfather passed away before I was born, so all I knew of him was by word of mouth, but I felt closer to him being in his childhood home.” 

From there, we went to the cemetery in Chiesina Uzzanese, where I had located the grave marker for Delfina Seghieri, the younger sister of Don’s grandfather. The next day, Don went with Elena, the bilingual wife of Davide Seghieri, to visit 92-year-old Mario Seghieri. Visiting my great Aunt’s grave site and to visit in person with my father’s second cousin was beyond anything I had imaged possible,” Don said. “I found family members very warm and hospitable.”

A few days later, we also went to the cemetery of Montecarlo, where we found graves of a couple of dozen members of the Seghieri family, although many I am not yet able to place directly in the family tree. A few were knights, some were lawyers and judges, and a couple were army officers—but most were probably farmers, the most common occupation here through the ages. We have not found the graves of our great grandparents and probably never will. Weather has taken its toll on the older markers, which are now unreadable. In addition, as Italian cemeteries fill up, the old graves must be removed to make room for the new. This may sound callous, but cemeteries can be 500 to 2,000 years old, and they can’t just keep expanding: Otherwise the dead will take up more space than the living.

Visiting old houses and cemeteries inspires in me a reverence for the past as I ponder the sacrifices made by parents to improve their own lives and especially those of their children.
My grandfather had passed away before I was born, but as a child I heard stories of where he lived and grew up,” Don said. “Once I started to research the family name, I just knew that one day I would visit the area. Seeing beautiful Italy, visiting my grandfather
’s house, to be in the geographical area known as Marcucci (named after Marco Seghieri) is amazing.”


  1. What a precious experience you helped provide for your cousins

  2. I AM BLOWN AWAY! So thrilled for all of you - I am Don's wife's aunt, and we are all rooting for this most memorable visit and reconnection. God bless all of you!

  3. I am Don & Kathy's sister-in-law and have to say I loved reading every story you have written about your life in Italy, amazing!! Happy that Don & Kathy are experiencing all these beautiful places with you, that they will always treasure.


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