Sunday, March 2, 2014

Getting to know a nearby cousin--while in Italy

Sunday, March 2
Pranzo al Casolare dei Fiori
My dual interests in Italian culture and getting to know members of my extended family made for a very pleasant day, as Lucy and I had the opportunity to spend time with a cousin that we previously had not known well. And even though we encountered her in Lucca, this time we had absolutely no trouble overcoming any language barriers, because she spoke English perfectly—but that was no surprise, since she was Kristie Spadoni of Gig Harbor.

Outside the church where Michele Spadoni and Anita Seghieri were married.
Ironically, we had previously exchanged only a few words with Kristie while we lived only three miles away from her in the United States. But this time, we had a definite shared interest—she was unexpectedly in Italy, and we enjoy sharing our passion for the homeland of our shared ancestors. I was able to give her quick tour of Lucca and also San Salvatore, the home of her great grandparents.

Hot chocolates at the bar in San Salvatore.
Kristie, 23, is a merchant mariner, on her first commercial deep sea trip, a voyage of approximately 100 days that for her started in Portland, Oregon, and will end somewhere on the U.S. east coast, probably Philadephia. She is a licensed engineer, in charge of maintenance of the main power plant and all accessory machines and auxiliary engines. Her ship left the states with only some of its ports of call already decided. After unloading cargo in Asia, they received orders to pick up cargo at additional ports. That’s because she is on a tramp steamer, defined as ship that does not have a fixed schedule or predetermined ports of call.

The site of the former Spadoni house in San Salvatore.
After navigating through the Suez Canal, the ship and its crew of seventeen received orders to pick up cargo in Italian ports Marina di Carrara and then Livorno, her first ever trip to Italy. When we found out she would have a couple of days in Livorno waiting for cargo to be loaded, we invited her for some gelato and to take a spin by bicycle around the wall of our favorite Italian city, Lucca. She also took a tour of San Salvatore and had lunch with us at the Casolare dei Fiori before taking the train back to Livorno. I gave her a short version of the story of Michele Spadoni and Anita Seghieri and how they met in San Salvatore and ended up in Washington.

Gelato in Lucca.
We briefly entered the back of the church where Michele and Anita married, which was in the middle of mass at the time. After enjoying some cioccolata calda at the bar, we showed her the piazza where once stood the home of Michele, and then she saw Casone Marcucci, the old Seghieri family home. We also stopped by the little Sagra delle Fritelle di Riso in nearby Chiesanuova and sampled some of the delicious rice fritters, a traditional snack of Carnevale. Kristie bought a bag of fritelle to give to her commanding officer.

“It was wonderful to have a family member from back home visit us here,” Lucy said afterwards. Kristie is from the younger generation, and it’s good for them to know about their homeland and the people they have come from. After our generation is gone, her generation will have to pass this information along to the next.”

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful to be able to visit with Kristie - small world - really really small


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