December 8, 2010
April 5, 2005
I awoke around 7:00am to the soft sound of the church bell that rang out on the quarter hour. Petralia in the late hours of the night through the early morning hours is very quiet. There is little auto traffic as most cobblestone roads are too narrow to support cars. Since our apartment is set back from any road bearing car traffic, our only sounds at night is the patter of rain on the stone and tile roofs. Around 8:00am as I was making coffee a lone voice, almost like a call to prayer was heard from somewhere in the village.
By 9:00am I made coffee in the kitchen and awaited John and Elaine to get up. Slowly the town seemed to come to life as people began to go to work and the local shops opened. Once up and dressed we headed out of town to visit Santa Caterina LoDico, the small 'fratzione' of Petralia Soprana. We drove down as far as the road took us eventually coming to a dead end.
As I backed up and attempted to turn around on the narrow road a door opened and a gentleman peered out at us. John stepped out of the car and introduced himself. The man indicated he was Giuseppe LoDico and agreed to walk us up to the home of Leonardo and Franca LoDico. Soon we were standing in the living room of Leonardo and Franca trying to communicate who we were and how possibly we were related. As it turned out Mimma had already telephoned Franca and soon more relatives showed up. Since I had spent most of the morning going over my notes I was somewhat prepared to try to show them just how we were related. With the help of Pietro's mother, Maria Santa, I learned the first LoDico to settle in Santa Caterina LoDico was Leonardo LoDico who married Maria Santa Gennaro. The closest match I had in my family genealogy was a Leonardo LoDico, married to a Maria Santa Fornaro. What was the chance I had made an error in the transcribing the handwritten birth record on microfilm? I had already reviewed all my other descendant charts for every LoDico in Petralia and it was only the descendants of Domenico LoDico, my great [6x] grandfather's brother that settled in Santa Caterina LoDico.
Franca asked us to return later that evening for dinner and Mimma asked us to meet her at 4:00pm at Lucia's bar to travel together. We left Santa Caterina LoDico and headed south to Blufi. We had little time to explore the town before we had to head back to Petralia so Elaine could keep a 2:00pm appointment with Mimma's daughter; Maria Grazia. We had about an 90 minutes free down time to catch a quick nap and get ready to meet Mimma at Lucia's bar.
At 4:00pm we walked over to Lucia's and met Mimma and Maria Grazia and drove over to Leonardo and Franca's home. We were armed with my computer, my genealogy CD, two Italian/English dictionaries and one French/English dictionary. We had discovered that Franca's daughter Mariella was taking French in grade school and Elaine was quite fluent in French.
The evening will always be one of my fondest memories of any visit to Sicily. From Sicilian to Italian to French and then English and back we began to bond as a LoDico family. Franca brought out her wedding book of photos and we saw her entire family from the 1981 photos. Three generations of Santa Caterina LoDicos were shown to us. Now armed with my notebook computer we scrolled through the long list of LoDico descendants and my handwritten notes depicting how our two ancestors: Mauro and Domenico were brothers, growing up in the quartiere of Malpasso, in the village of Blufi, a fratzione of Petralia Soprana, back in the year of 1790. Two LoDico families separated by 265 years and six generations of descendants sat together, once again for a family dinner.
I could still see that the missing information on the direct link for Pietro father to the information on my Leonardo was a question mark and while I tried to explain my on-line genealogy searches only gave me access to around 1920, it did not seem to translate well and more questions were asked on why I did not have the actual information on my computer.
I brought out my genealogy CD which I had created 3 copies of and showed it to Mariella. Earlier in the day I had asked if anyone had a computer and she said she had one in her room but it did not have an internet connection. We went upstairs and put the CD in her computer and Franca, Mimma and the girls gathered around me as I showed them photos of my family and how to navigate around the CD. Finally we seemed to have a universal language as I asked Mariella if she had a PDF (Acrobat Reader) and she did, so I could show her the descendants outline information. I then asked if she had Excel so I could show her the spreadsheets of various miscellaneous descendants I had not yet placed into my family tree. I opened one spreadsheet: Petralia Soprana births 1820-1920.
I should explain now that over the last four years I had looked at every birth, death and marriage record in Petralia Soprana for this 100 year period. They are available on microfilm rolls from the Mormon Church, for rent and they are sent locally to me in Santa Cruz, California for my viewing. When I first started logging all the LoDicos I found it best to use an Excel spreadsheet format where I could group and search data quickly and easily aligning families and siblings. As my family tree grew I would find people in the spreadsheets that fit into my tree and slowly I would remove them from my spreadsheet. In the beginning I might have had 200 names in one spreadsheet but in the end maybe 10 remained, a LoDico I just couldn't place within a specific family grouping.
So as I opened this spreadsheet, just to show everyone the various information I had on the CD, up came about 10 LoDicos that remained on the spreadsheet. One name jumped off the page as we all saw it at once: Pietro LoDico, born 9/3/1901 to Leonardo LoDico and Maria Santa Gennaro! There was a side note indicating they lived at Santa Caterina LoDico #69 and Pietro wed Calogera Cerami on 1/11/1920. There was even Pietro's sister Vittoria listed.
Obviously I had not made the connection that Maria Santa Farnaro was actually Gennaro. (If one ever looks at a Sicilian handwritten town record you would understand how difficult it is to read a century old penmanship.
Everyone hurried down to announce we had discovered the link to the family tree.
Dinner was served at 9:00pm. Roast pork, artichoke fritters, potatoes, salad, cheese, Leonardo's white wine, and homemade bread. It was wonderful. One cheese was a local ricotta known throughout Sicily. Unlike the American version this ricotta is white and solid, made that way by the use of salt (another local industry is the extensive salt mines in Petralia). The ricotta was mixed with red peppers to give it a wonderful flavor and texture. Local tangerines and blood oranges and a hot espresso coffee topped off the meal.
The night ended around midnight and we drove home loaded down with a large bag of oranges and tangerines and memories.
As I drifted off to sleep I couldn't help but imagine two small boys, brothers, playing in a yard. Perhaps sent outside until a meal was ready, to keep from being underfoot. Perhaps their older sister had just been married and now no longer would be living at home. As they threw small pebbles at the birds, knowing they had to keep their clothes clean and couldn't really play, the younger boy, after a long silence, asked his older brother:
"Will you leave?"
"Yes, will you go away too. When you get older. Will you leave me?"
"No Domenico, I won't leave you. I promise"
After two and a half centuries I could almost hear Mauro whisper, "I am home, I am here Domenico".