Many Umbra students come from Italian heritage and few take advantage of this during their time in Italy by calling up long lost relatives for a reunion. Many times, Umbra students have never even met them before. Chris Barrella from Penn State University had one such experience when he called his family had not seen since World War II.
Over a weekend in late February, I made the 4.5 hour train ride from Perugia to Pescara, a big fishing town on the Adriatic Coast east of Rome. I certainly was not going to lie out on the great beaches there and catch some sun, but rather to make contact with some distant relatives that had not spoken with the American side of the family since World War II.
The exact relation between myself and my family living in Pescara is a little distant but family nonetheless. My cousin picked my up at the train station in Pescara on a Friday evening, and when I say cousin, I mean my dad’s mother’s cousin. My great uncle had visited the family when he was stationed in Italy during World War II but I was the first to go back since then. I spoke some Italian, enough to hold a basic conversation, and my cousin spoke a little English but when more cousins and sisters and brothers started arriving, I retired to the couch and just listened.
On Saturday, we had a feast only rivaled by the Food Cultures trip to Dario Cecchini’s restaurant with endless plates of salad, bruschetta and meats. After a short walk around town and down to the beach, we returned home for another superbly prepeared dinner just a few hours after the banquet for lunch. When it was finally time to leave on Sunday, I had met approximately 12 family members, 1 dog and had eaten more food that I see in an average week. Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back.