Sunday, May 1, 2016

Parties and music with lively Seghieri families from three countries

The family shield, taken outside the house
in Montecarlo with the shield over the door.
It’s always interesting to find old family records—names, photos, places of birth and occupations of deceased ancestors—but it’s 10 times more fun to meet living relatives, especially when they are as lively, gracious and cheerful as our distant Italian and French Seghieri cousins.

This weekend has been a celebration of the return of two Seghieri families who immigrated to France from Italy in the 1800s (see Long lost French Seghieri families . . .). Two of the families from the Marcucci neighborhood welcomed the seven French visitors with a pizza dinner at La Terrazza pizzeria in Montecarlo Saturday night. Linda, Cori and I also attended, while Lucy remained at home to prepare food for the next day.
Pizza dinner at La Terrazza.

Since Linda and Cori had to return home early Sunday morning, Elena presented Linda with a copy of the Seghieri family shield painted on concrete. Elena had the shields hand-made by a craftsman from Lucca especially for the French guests, but Linda and I each ordered one as well. The rest of us received ours later.
Our song leaders.

We met again in the yard of Davide, Elena and Flavia at 11 a.m. Sunday for a potluck lunch that included many of the other Marcucci families: Sergio and Silvana, Celestino and Antonella and their sons Matteo and Diego, Ivo, Sandra, Nicola and Laura, Rita and her mother Nicoletta (her son Dario and his fidanzata Federica came to the pizza dinner but not the potluck). There was even a brief appearance from Emanuele, Dante’s grandson, whom we met for the first time.
And the chorus . . .

We were also blessed with the presence of Andrea Mandroni, who was well qualified to join the party. Like me, he had a grandmother who was a Seghieri. He is the top genealogy researcher in the area, and he helped Marcel Seghieri trace his ancestry back a couple of generations further than Marcel was able to do on his own.

Our accompanist
The fact that we represented three different countries and languages didn’t slow us down too much, although the conversations made me think of the Tower of Babel. Only a couple of people spoke any English. I could understand the Italian most of the time and the French once in a while. However, some of the French cousins knew some Italian, so we conversed in Italian as best we could. However, they might start a sentence in Italian, but lacking the vocabulary to continue, they would finish it in French, leaving me with only half of the meaning. Or it’s possible that they said the whole sentence in Italian, but with a French accent so thick that I couldn’t tell if they were speaking Italian or French.

Two events left me quite emotional. The first was when Marcel directed the entire party in the singing first of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Va, Pensiero,” and then in the Italian national anthem, “Inno di Mameli.” I was touched to see how proud the French families were of their Italian heritage. Flavia accompanied on clarinet for the anthem, Elena and Marcel did a great job of getting everyone involved in the singing, and after some initial feelings of embarrassment, everyone smiled and laughed through the rehearsals and then the final production. A few people recorded the performance on their phones, so eventually I may get a copy to share.

Then the French group sang the French national anthem. At that point, I hoped that everyone would forget that Lucy and I were there, but no, we had to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Our food expert, Ivo
The other memorable event came when Marcel pulled out some photos of his family. One of the photos (I think it was of one of Marcel’s uncles) greatly resembled some members of Sergio’s family, both his brother Pietro and his grandfather, also named Pietro. This provoked one of those special Italian moments where everyone is talking at the same time, saying things like: “They look almost the same, it could be they are the same person, it can’t be the same person, even if it’s not the same person the resemblance is surprising, etc.” All of this in Italian and French at the same time, and it went on for a good 20 minutes.

After the potluck, the party continued when we went up the hill to see the concert of the
Società Filarmonica Giacomo Puccini at the teatro of Montecarlo. Although the community is small, the band is incredible, and we enjoyed it immensely. We filled an entire row of seats and then some, applauding enthusiastically, especially for our favorite musician, clarinetist Flavia Seghieri. Lucy and I walked a few blocks home, contentissimi to be part of such a grand family and community.
The whole gang! Actually, more people came later and didn't make it into the group photo.

1 comment:

  1. This is SO interesting! Thank you for posting it. Can't wait for the next installment!


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