Yesterday, I drove to Longi and back to Alcara in my rental car. I was nervous about the drive. Longi is very close to Alcara and there is a direct road that connects the two. However, everyone I’ve met in Alcara has told me to avoid this road. They said take the main road back to the seaside, drive for 10 kilometers, and then take another main road up into Longi. This more than doubled the drive time – it turned a 20 minute drive each way into nearly an hour each way, but everybody said it was the smart thing to do so I did it.
Climbing up these mountain roads is tough, but I made it. I parked my car outside the town where a bunch of other cars were parked, hoping it wouldn’t be a problem. I did read on a travel website that “Parking in a Sicilian village is easy. Just find a place where you won’t block an ambulance from rescuing sick people, and leave you car.” So I did that and walked into Longi.
Longi was similar to Alcara. Nestled in the mountains with beautiful scenery and lively streets. I took pictures and located the house my great grandmother was born in.
Then, I went to the main piazza and had a sandwich. I took in all the sights and sounds of the townspeople who were all hanging out. I could have tried to talk to them, but I didn’t. I knew that they would’ve been very hospitable and friendly, but I wanted to get back to my room in Alcara relatively early.
Plus, it was nice to sit and enjoy my thoughts. There were five small towns I knew of where my ancestors were born, and I had made it to all five. This was the fifth. I spent more time in some than in others, and I met more people in some than in others, but I went to all five. (Six if you include Campobasso city.) I started doing genealogical research for fun about four years ago, and since that time I’ve wanted to visit those towns. And now, it’s done.
In many ways, these two weeks were the climax of my time in Italy. Everything I did before led up to it. Because I’m not sure I would have been prepared to just take a plane from America, land, and go to Longi… towns like this are off the beaten path. Three months of living in Italy and one month of traveling prepared me. I learned how Italy works, I got accustomed to Italy. And most importantly, I practiced the language. And now, my climax was finished. It was amazing to see my roots firsthand and I’ll remember these experiences forever.
Now, according the counter I’ve set up on my phone, I have exactly 100 days left until I fly home. The next 100 days will be filled with tourism of other countries in Europe, for the most part. I think it’s fitting that there’s exactly 100 days left, after my visit to those five towns.
I went back to Alcara and was greeted by the family who owns the B&B, Rosi and Nicolo. They invited me to eat lunch with them. After lunch, we ate cookies that were exactly like the ones my grandma (whose parents were born here) used to make. Not a coincidence.
Afterwards, they took me to visit the local sanctuary a few miles out of town. It was the home for some time of San Nicolo Politi, the local patron saint and protector of Alcara Li Fusi.
Their hospitality was unbelievable. They basically took me in like another host family, for a few days. They even gave me some parting gifts to remember them by. (Also something my grandma used to do.)
Then, the next morning, I got in my car and headed to Catania, the second largest city in Sicily, and that’s where I am now. I turned in the rental with no issues and checked into a hostel.
I’m going to spend two weeks touring around Sicily and hitting the main sights, and then on June 18 I’m taking a flight to Torino to visit my host family for the weekend. On June 20, I’m going to fly out of Italy and head to Northern Europe. (I think England but I still have to book it.) My time in Italy, sadly, is coming to an end. I don’t think it’s hit me yet.