by Andrea Salvo
In our family, we are not strangers to multigenerational travel, and certainly not strangers to Italy. However, our trip in the summer of 2007 was unique to me in that I hadn’t been to Italy with my grandfather and had never been to the town in which he was born.
The trip started out with a bang, our flight to Philadelphia was canceled, which meant we would not be making our connection to Rome, and would need to reroute13 people to Italy in the middle of July, not an easy task. With 6 people working simultaneously we all ended up in a limousine to Toronto, to catch a plane on a different airline, our bags following in their own bus behind.
Once we actually arrived, luckily no-one was left in Rome as was threatened by the airline, the adventures began! We piled into two large white vans, ours was dubbed “The Magic Bus” and we navigated these beasts through the narrow streets of Reggio Calabria, in the southernmost part of Italy.
By the time we arrived at our home away from home, Sayonara, I was surprised we were all still talking. Whatever stress we had was forgotten as we approached our destination and my broken English speaking grandmother stated, “There it is, I told you, go straight, straight then turn around.” Thank goodness for her navigation skills!
We visited with our cousins and great aunt who still live in San Ferdinando. We met old neighbors and extended family. For the most part we remained a large group which meant considerable dinner tables. The dinner crowd grew to massive proportions when our Italian family members joined. We had one evening of pizza, french fries (the Italian side dish to pizza), and salad with approximately 29 people at the table. It was a typical Italian scene.
On day five my Mother decided we needed an adventure. My sisters, cousin and parents loaded into the Magic Bus and we made our way to the breathtaking landscape of the Amalfi Coast. If you ever find yourself in Positano in the middle of July, and you stumble upon an old man selling homemade lemon ice from a cart, get some, and then go back for more.
The trip culminated in yet another road trip. This time I hopped into the bus with my grandmother, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, and three cousins. Our destination was Montadoro or mountain of gold, where we would spend three days celebrating the feast of St. Joseph. My maternal grandmother and my father were both born in Montadoro, so when we arrived, we were greeted by my father and his entire family.
We spent three days with my father’s family and my grandmother stayed with her family. On the night of the feast my grandmother had tears in her eyes as she walked in the procession, through the streets of her town, two generations in tow. She pointed out the house she grew up in and the balcony from where her grandfather was once assaulted by a woman’s dirty water, a story we heard often as kids.
On our way back to the main land, which included a six hour drive and one hour ferry ride, we made sure to stop at a gas station and get Panini. In Italy, the best Panini are sold in the gas stations. Add to that the most decadent snacks and exquisite coffee and you might begin to understand why I always look forward to an Italian road trip. My grandmother treated us to yet another of her famous one liners when she stated, “I feel like I was born and raised in this bus.” We quote all of her pearls of wisdom from that trip to this day.
Not only were we multigenerational we were multifamily. In total we had three generations and members from five different families intertwined at any given time. To be certain, I will never forget that trip. I may go back to Italy once a year, but Italy they way it was in 2007 will be a place I visit only in pictures and memories.
Andrea Salvo is a wife and mother who lives in Broomfield, Colorado. Andrea enjoys reading, cycling, dancing, cooking, and spending quality time with the ones she loves. Andrea’s days are filled with taking care of her beautiful daughter and working as a School Counselor. She takes pride in mentoring young teenagers to find their purpose and talents and to live their best life.
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