I have certainly been waiting a long time for my new book to be ready and go to print. Finally, we are there. I expect to have copies in my hand very soon. And soon you will be seeing a lot more about the book and hearing from me regarding reactions and marketing going forward. I am pleased with the way it has turned out and I am looking forward to see how it will be received. It is my hope that my story will ignite a passion in many others to research their roots and find out more about their heritage. It has been a remarkable journey for me and it is so worthwhile to find out more about where we came from and the importance of our ancestral history to who we are today. If my book sparks an interest in just a few, I will be happy.
To spark your interest in what will follow, I am posting the Introduction to the book here. The book is in three parts: Childhood Memories; Travels in Italy: Our Connection to the Country of Our Ancestors. I hope you like it.
I was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and most of my childhood was spent in Yonkers, New York. My mother was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and my father was born in the Bronx, New York. My grandparents—on both my mother and father’s side—spent the early part of their lives in the south of Italy—in Molise and Puglia. I love New York and I love America. And I love Italy—the country of my ancestors. As my life has progressed (now that I have lived three quarters of a century) I appreciate my Italian heritage more and more every day. My numerous trips to the country my ancestors left many years ago have doubtless contributed to that appreciation. In 2012 I became an Italian citizen after my husband, my daughter, and I applied for citizenship. We each have two passports—American and Italian. I like to think my Italian passport somehow elevates my connection to my rich and vibrant heritage.
Both sets of my grandparents came to America at the beginning of the last century—more than 100 years ago. They left their homeland searching for a better life in America, and con- sequently they created a better life for me and for the rest of my family. Generally, life is quite different today in Italy than it was for them when they immigrated to the United States, but the cultural warmth and beauty of the land is still there in abundance. I have visited many of Italy’s beautiful cities, provinces, and regions over the years and I feel that I know the country to some degree. The food, the wine, the people, the art, the history, the countryside, the sea, the lakes—who can argue that it is the BEST—especially the food, the wine and the PEOPLE!
My husband Alan and I agree that our Italian heritage plays an intrinsic role in our individual lives and in our life together. We feel a powerful pull toward the country of our ancestors. Nowadays many people are drawn to Ancestry.com and other Internet sites to begin researching their heritage and studying their DNA. Knowledge of one’s genetic history and genealogy is very compelling, and we have fully embraced it. I have not had my DNA analyzed as of yet since I believe I know what it will tell me—i.e., that my roots are all from southern Europe.
My purpose here is to convey what it was like growing up in the 1940s and 1950s in an Italian-American family—a close and loving extended family—and how that contributed so much to who I am today. I also want to recreate and reminisce about some of the memorable experiences I enjoyed while traveling in Italy, which undoubtedly enhanced my love of this beautiful country.
Alan’s grandfather, Giuseppe Votta, was born in Venafro, Italy, which is in the same region of Molise, where my paternal grandparents were born. Alan was able to apply for his Italian passport through his grandfather’s lineage. Giuseppe Votta immigrated to Scotland and married there before finally settling in Yonkers, New York. Alan’s heritage is mixed with Austrian, Scotch, and Hungarian thrown in there. His childhood was different than mine because of the multi-cultural influences on his life, not only Italian like mine.
The process of applying for Italian citizenship was indeed a fascinating endeavor with its many ups and downs, comical holdups, and overall frustrations, but the final outcome has been so worthwhile.
This is not a travel book. Although I have described many magnificent and beautiful spots in the country I love, it is not my intent to entice anyone to take a trip. It is, however, a testament to how much our cultural heritage impacts our lives and how I have embraced it fully.
Everyone loves Italy—no matter what one’s ethnic back- ground. And Italy is generally the trip of a lifetime for any traveler. For me, Italy represents so much more. It is what makes me, ME.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think and I will be sure to let you know just as soon as the book is released.