Monday, May 9, 2022

Thanks to soo many people for a special family reunion week!

Dinner at Il Poggio
Wow, wow, wow! How else can I describe the past week, when a recurrent dream I’ve had during the past 10 years ago became reality? Thirty four relatives from the United States and 18 from France joined many Italian relatives still living in the Valdinievole for an unforgettable week-long reunion and exploration of our ancestral roots.

At the Devil's Bridge in Borgo a Mozzano.

Lucy and I began coming regularly to Montecarlo in 2011 for about three months each year, and every time we discovered more people and places of significance to both the families of my grandparents, Michele Spadoni and Anita Seghieri. The desire to share these discoveries grew each year. I had taken my children, siblings and cousins to meet relatives here and explore some historical sites, but then I thought why not do this on a grander scale.

Two of the younger participants,
Clara and Giorgia.
I contacted my close cousins and Gig Harbor and then expanded my search to include members of the family I had never met from other cities in the United States. Of course, my Seghieri cousins from France had to be included, as they are fiercely proud of their Montecarlo origins. And though I had originally envisioned this as an experience for the children of immigrant ancestors, how could I not include our relatives here in the Valdinievole, even if I barely knew them, or even if I had not met them at all? Thanks to the internet, I was able to put out announcements through email, Facebook and my blog. When I arrived in Italy in mid-April, I also extended some personal invitations.

Spadoni families from Italy and USA.
Though success in such events can’t be measured purely by numbers, it is significant that at least 75 people attended the events of Thursday evening, when I presented my findings on the history of the Spadoni and Seghieri families in a slide show in Montecarlo. About 60 people attended the farewell apericena at the home of Davide and Elena Saturday. Large groups also attended lunches and dinners all through the week.

Gina and Lisa (left, right) meet Italo Cortesi
and his wife Enrichetta on the Cortesi farm.

In my reckoning, though, the best measure of success was the volume of the conversations and the expressions of pleasure at each meal. It was remarkable to me how quickly people became acquainted and bonded, even when they spoke different languages. Several times I found myself sitting back and watching multitudes of animated conversations with tears welling up in my eyes. This experience far exceeded even the wildest dreams I envisioned when I first considered organizing a reunion.

Thanks to all my wonderful cousins. Thanks to our ancestors who endured struggles and hardships to make it possible for us to experience such pleasures. Especially thanks to Davide Seghieri, Elena Benvenuti, Jean Paul Seghieri, Sergio Nelli, Carlo Spadoni and Andrea Mandroni. Also thanks to Italo Cortesi for showing us his farm even when he was not feeling well. Thanks to my wife Lucy who has supported me so loyally and cheerfully in my pursuits. Many other people stepped up to help with translations, collecting money, creating a Whatsapp group and providing driving directions, Why God has singled me out for such blessings I will never know, but I feel like we have all experienced a little taste of heaven this week.

Davide Seghieri and Paul Spadoni cut our special reunion cake.