It’s Tombstone Tuesday!!

August 4, 2009 at 15:19 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Tombstone Tuesday | Leave a comment
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In honor of Tombstone Tuesday here in Genealogy Blog-ville, and in honor of A. Coffin’s blog (great reading I might add!) at  We Tree   I am posting just a few photos of graveyards in Italy. It is interesting how the Italians have compensated for lack of available ground to bury their dead. Aside from the wall crypts, they also have chapels in each cemetery where after so many years, they remove the bones from graves and transfer them to bone rooms under the chapels. This too is consecrated area and where families place flowers and say prayers. Sadly the result is that not enough of the old graves exist for families to use then to track their ancestors. Records of those graveyards tend to also not be complete.

Memorial to Victims of Bombing Raids, WWII in Itri, Italy

Memorial to Victims of Bombing Raids, WWII in Itri, Italy

Just about every city in Italy has its own cemetery usually walled off with the chapel as in Itri.
Sidewall Itri, Italy Cemetary

Sidewall Itri, Italy Cemetary

Entrance to Cemetary Itri, Italy

Entrance to Cemetary Itri, Italy

Closeup Entrance to Itri Cemetary

Closeup Entrance to Itri Cemetary

Sadly many of the gravestones to the older existing graves are falling into disrepair due to lack of funds or to local family there to tend to them. Many localities are trying now to preserve the older graves. Interestingly many graves have simple flat metal crosses, many without names. Most gravestones will have photos of the deceased. I am not posting those closeups because Italy has been enforcing stricter privacy laws and it would not be fair to disrespect them by ignoring their wishes.
Broken Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Broken Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Old Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

Old Gravestone Campodimele, Italy

City of West Melbourne, Florida – Democracy or What???

July 6, 2009 at 18:29 | Posted in Amore di Italia | 3 Comments
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This is one of the most difficult posts to write and as I write, I am in tears. I am shaken to the core to realize that my city government of West Melbourne, Florida could be as callous and undemocratic as it is. Unless one considers the needs of everyone else come before the needs of a homeowner and taxpayer, unless one considers the financial well being of one is unimportant in respect to what the city sees as fair to everyone else. I am making this post in hopes of sharing enough information that others can be forewarned and not face the heartache, disillusionment, and financial ruin that West Melbourne, Florida has “blessed” me with.

My home originally before mess can be seen here – 

Front Yard Before This Started

Front Yard Before This Started

 As many of my loyal readers know, bonnieshusband is permanently disabled. We are not wealthy people. I have worked since he was disabled and like many folks, we planned on the equity in our home to be our retirement base. As with most others we have seen that value decrease due to the housing bubble but we had purchased twelve years ago and did enough improvements that we still felt safe and comfortable with the amount of equity we had realized. This home spanning almost 2700 sq. ft. with pool and originally nice landcaping was market value of over $200,000, a moderate but decent home for us and the area. When we purchased our home we did our research. I had been raised in the construction and real estate business and worked in the field also. The first rule of real estate is location, followed by rule #2 of location, closely followed by rule #3 of location. We knew an easement existed on our side and rear yards for drainage and utilities, something almost every subdivision in this area also has. To the very edge of the property line, clearly visible even in the current Google maps photos there shows a telephone pole with small electric panel box. This was to power a sewer pump underground in the road – visible as a small manhole cover in the road. There was also a small cover in-ground on neighbor’s easement, also visible in the photos. Grass for the most part hid that one. We were told before we agreed to purchase the house that the electric box and pole would be ‘going away’ when the city reworked the system – and all would go under-ground. This was something all of the neighbors then were also told. Based on that information we bought the house. The city for some reason did not use earmarked funds to do the project so it was delayed for several years. In March of this year the surveyors arrived and marked utility lines and well point marks (we were later told that was what the wood stakes were for). Note the photo of the wood stake up against our front window area – it is still there as of tonight and turned out to be where they planned on drilling a well-point. However as a building inspector pointed out, drawing water off so close to the foundation would probably compromise the foundation! Ya think???

Well Point Stake Against House

Well Point Stake Against House

    Next ensued a visit by myself to city hall of West Melbourne, FL to ‘invite’ city officials to actually visit their intended job site. We along with neighbors were informed that obviously they would need to ‘redesign’ the project but that we “were inconveniencing the rest of the neighborhood” and that we should realize how “unfair we were to not do this for the betterment” of our neighbors and the city. Gee – I’m so sorry! I guess if they had given us a Notice of Intent up front or knocked on the door when the pros visited the job site to work on the plans, we might have been able to show them the large cement structure that had been sitting there for thirty years! Well they did the redesign – except they forgot to note the driveways to the houses so they had to go back to the drawing boards again! Professionalism at its finest so far? Their ultimate solution was to now position all of the lift station in the right of way of the roadway. Of course it ended up also in front of my front windows.

My House Now

My House Now

 As the West Melbourne, Fl City Attorney explains it, that is their legal right to position anything such as this anywhere they have a right of way, i.e.: road or easement! So beware – you may be equally blessed, especially if you live in West Melbourne, Fl with one of these in the road directly in front of your front door or windows too! Worse yet, the constant refrain has been that none of them would have bought a house with a sewer in front of it either. Interestingly neither did I per se – but the City Attorney of West Melbourne had also stated it was the city’s prerogative to build this in any road way right of way. 

Hole In Side Front

Hole In Side Front New View Of Front Yard

I have reminded everyone that as a taxpayer I do not expect to be talked to condescendingly as they work for me, a taxpayer and citizen. No one else pays my mortgage or taxes, so this is more than merely inconvenient for me! They have robbed me of my financial security and peace of mind. My faith in our government being there to serve and protect is obviously destroyed! Most municipalities although having the same rights, do not abuse them in such a cavalier manner. Rather they work in an effort to bolster, not destroy property values. Our complaints are also a part of the City Council Records as we have been attending the West Melbourne, Fl meetings. 

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Interestingly most of the Council went on record agreeing with us but it  means nothing but a “Gee, we’re sorry” and no recourse otherwise. This has been a rude awakening. I was raised to believe that one’s town government as well as the federal government were there to serve and protect its citizens. Obviously this is not the policy or general belief of the town of West Melbourne, Florida. I thought this was a great place to raise a family and retire – now I am sure it is not! Any company thinking of relocating here should do so cautiously or they will find corporate property values could be played with and certainly the employees would be taking a huge risk to purchase a home in a place that cares so little about them. No consideration was given to our family’s rights or needs. It may in fact mean my future is ruined, but I would never want to see anyone else go through this type of  heartbreak at the hands of another town the way West Melbourne, Florida has treated us! By the way – our yard is still dug up and a mud hole, our mailbox was relocated down the street, the road is also still dug up. We’ve been promised some flowers around the lift station and they’re going to paint the electric boxes, too. Aren’t we lucky??? 

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

A Funny Happened on the Way To……

July 5, 2009 at 18:18 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips | Leave a comment
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So here I am “wasting a day” reading all my favorite blogs and I get introduced to another one (thanks to Generations Gone By – again I might add!) who set me to  Genealogue which is one of the funniest sites with still offering great tips and information alike. Admittedly they also offer political commentary as befitting the subject but even if you do not agree, you will enjoy the humor! The information is great though and we should all want to be informed even if we end up disagreeing!

Odds and Ends

July 5, 2009 at 14:46 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Fun Reminders of Italy, genealogy, Hints and Tips, Italy | 1 Comment
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Today I just want to offer a few of my favorite sites and blogs. These are places you will find I “hang around” at and use to make life easier for my research – they are also fun blogs to read, and forums that offer useful tips and hints to further your research.

Today I found a great new source while reading a favorite blog: Ciao Amalfi  This blog is always chock full of handy information but this ‘Sunday Shout Out’ offering will be greatly appreciated by those of us trying to master Italian. She suggests a great site WordReference that is an online dictionary – altho I have an offline program, it was rather pricey software – so this online site will help you given our fragile economic times. Laura of Ciao Amalfi also takes you to  L’italiano in Famiglia  – this fun site allows you to view the Italian series and learn Italian in the process. I often explain that my Italian is constantly improved by watching TV via DISH and RAI netweork programming. I sit with an Italian/English dictionary (or two or three) and revel in old movies, music videos, and yes, even reality TV and soap operas! I use more than one dictionary due to proper Italian and to modern slang needs!

A favorite forum I visit almost daily is Gente di Mare – here you’ll find a great website dedicated to researching family in Italy. Many of the same folks here also frequent Italian Genealogy – Gente di Mare is a web site with lots of great information as well as a members forum. Italian Genealogy is a forum members site with tons of information. There are folks from all over the world only too happy to help you further your research or answer questions from the most basic to the advanced! Membership at both is free although any donations to help defray their costs would be appreciated.

Another super blog I refer to often is Bleeding Espresso Michelle Fabio is found just about everywhere on the web but she is someone I so identify with on many levels – we have never met personally but that is something I hope to be able to change on one of our trips to Italy. As an American she also married an Italian and she now lives the live I dream of in Italy! This week she is offering a chance at another of her great give-aways so head over to her blog and read away – I guarantee you will be lost for hours of enjoyment and dreaming!

Another Heartbreak for Italy!

June 30, 2009 at 15:06 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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Based on reports from Corriere della Sera Italy has one more horror to deal with – does the old adage/superstition of bad news in threes hold true. I pray this time it does – twice for Abruzzi and now one for Viareggio make three. This lovely town has been rocked with a train accident resulting in a horrendous fire and at least 15 dead and untold damage. We have often traveled through this area – it is a beautiful area with warm friendly people! We pray for their recovery – and for those burned in the resulting explosions and fires. Please visit the links for my postings on Abruzzi to again offer donations to the Italian Red Cross to help the folks here. They are needing help as well as prayers — and they deserve both from us!

More Tears for L’Aquila

June 23, 2009 at 15:10 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Italy | 1 Comment
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Today I ran across this article while surfing through news resports overseas: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/5610522/Aftershock-rattles-LAquila-ahead-of-G8-summit.html It seems beautoful L’Aquila has again been hit by an earthquake. It does not seem to be only an aftershock but was a 4.6 register on the Richter scale. We  need to all remember these folks in our prayers and if possible continue to contribute to the funds financially to help them.

Please check back to other of my posts to follow links for helping and for those news reports:

http://valentinoswife.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/l’aquila…-stan…moving-forward/

and also at:

http://valentinoswife.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/heartbreak/

Safe charity to send donations: CROCE ROSSA

 Originally I linked us to Bleeding Espresso  http://bleedingespresso.com/2009/04/niafabruzzo-relief-fund-for-victims-of-abruzzo-earthquake.html  where you can find links to information also.

 

Lessons from the Brick Ovens of Italy

June 10, 2009 at 18:13 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Italian Cooking, Spiritual Walk | 2 Comments
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Brick Ovens of Tollo
Brick Ovens of Tollo

Many homes in Italy boast brick ovens out back. Or they may have been community ovens shared by several homes within the town. For instance my mother in law always baked her bread midweek on her day for the neighborhood oven. The oven is no longer standing, long ago fallen and then demolished. Valentino remembers well with his siblings how there was one person who guarded the locks and the wood, and another who held the yeast for everyone to use!

The flavor and shape of the bread varies from region to region. My sister in law describes the bread from Tollo as being dry and lifeless. She and I offer that perhaps it is lacking the addition of love when baked! The bread in Abruzzi is made without salt. Talk about hard to get used to! Most of my other sister in law’s life, she baked her own bread because she could not get used to bread without salt. Now that she is older, she buys her bread but often apologizes for the lack of flavor. Most Italians baked the bread in wood ovens for a couple of basic reasons we Americans have never given much thought to. Europeans in general are much more cautious with the earth’s limited resources and therefore take greater care not to abuse them. The brick ovens are heated with wood, the fires banked and stoked to conserve the heat in the bricks while the bread bakes slowly. The bread bakes slower and longer resulting in a thicker harder crust with a softer and moister inside. Yet this softer inside is not the mushy consistency of most American white bread. None of the bread is wasted even as it goes stale. Stale bread is another excuse for bread soup – if anyone is so fortunate to have bread left over long enough to go stale! Most folks will sop up the sauce after eating their pastas and also dip in the oil and balsamic vinegar dressings from the salads. Occasionally though some bread will remain and be made into bread soup on the last day. Bread soup is made by simmering a vegetable broth with onions and pouring it over the stale bread pieces, and then topped with lots of parmesan cheese. Talk about leftovers tasting like an extravagant meal! Nothing fancy but nothing wasted! It is the waste not, want not philosophy that Italians live by. Bread is now also sold in bakeries but never in the plastic one use bags we Americans seem to favor too much. Shoppers use large canvas bags, cotton breathable bags, or even large baskets carries on their arms.

San Croce Old Oven

San Croce Brick Oven

San Croce Brick Oven

 

Cavesso New Oven

Cavesso New Oven

All of this brings to mind our walk as Christians and as citizens of this world. We Christians should be taking our time to be slow baked in the fires of the Holy Spirit, slowly developing that thick skin to avoid the slings and the temptations of the world. But we also need the softer inside – not mushy – but soft enough to maintain the heart of the Lord for others without phony sentimental mushiness. We should also be concerned about the earth’s resources. Isn’t that also part of caring for widows and orphans and others less fortunate than ourselves? If we spend less on wastefulness and more on charity, maybe we would also be witnessing more to others? I guess those differing bread recipes are so much like us. It takes many denominations and many ways of looking at the needs of others to really share the Word. We all love Him but we often go about worshipping in different ways. Not wrong. Just different. Going back to the idea of community ovens: aren’t they remindful of churches? What better way to reach people than to be there at the community hearth to mingle, to share, to be instead of hiding at home alone? There are the keepers of the flame and the leavening to help each of us! Hmmm. Sounds familiar too? Gee. I thought we Americans were supposed to be the leaders? Maybe we still have some learning by example too?

L’Aquila… standing still, hopefully moving forward

May 30, 2009 at 16:54 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Bits and Pieces, Italy | Leave a comment
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L’Aquila.. standing still, hopefully moving forward – a shameless attempt to remind us all not to forget — please, please do not forget! We here stateside need to be reminded because our news agencies are shamelessly busy plugging Hope Change yada yada for Obama and ignoring those who do not fit into those neat little boxes needing help – you know the types: if you do not qualify for stimulus payment bailouts, you are not newsworthy! Well – in my jaded eyes, people who are true victims – not those who made themselves into victims – are more deserving of our remembering them. And true victims are the ones who could not stop what happened to them. The good people of L’Aquila fit that category completely! They had no advance warning – and no way to avoid what happened to them. Maybe the only issue to find fault is that according to news reports (such as found at http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0529/p06s05-woeu.html) state less than 5% of the people had insurance against earthquake damage. I personally blame that on the government failing to educate people about homeowners and business insurance. The mentality of many Europeans is that their government will handle it – except after a catastrophe many admit they don’t expect more from their government! At the rate we are all now learning to decide if governments should be socialist or fascist or total democracy/capitalistic or libertarian, we need to step up and help these victims rebuild their lives. Or at least we need to help them on the path to recovery. There are many needs and I hope you all consider doing what you can.

You can check out my previous post: http://valentinoswife.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/heartbreak to read about the initial attempts in aid for the victims where I suggest you visit: http://bleedingespresso.com/2009/04/niafabruzzo-relief-fund-for-victims-of-abruzzo-earthquake .  In the United States we can send help via NIAF and overseas use CROCE ROSSA . Another interesting mention is found in the UK news at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6153912.ece detailing Berlusconi’s plan to move the G8 Summit to L’Aquila. I am sure there are many problems others are happy to list and carry on over – but I see some upsides to this if handled properly. It will force public attention worldwide on L’Aquila and perhaps force both the Italian government and aid groups to acknowledge work needed to help these folks! Winter in tents is not fun camping – even though Berlusconi is often misunderstood when he attempts wry humor, he was letting us know in his usual sarcastic Italian manner that these folks are not going to be having fun camping forever! A day or two, a week or two, one can jolly each other along and then it is time to get solid plans in motion. That takes money and we need to remember these folks are out of work and running out of money fast! Please please remember them, pray for them, and help them! Thanks!

Handy Site for Household Tips

May 30, 2009 at 13:35 | Posted in Amore di Italia | 1 Comment
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Ran into a few stupid household needs today so did a little Internet search and found this great blog guaranteed to help and save money at the same time!  Has a great name too — Family Hack!  They’re found at  http://www.familyhack.com/2007/10/02/european-car-lease/#comment-2502. They are a husband wife team who manage easy, funny, and wise tips on a variety of subjects from easy packing, great car rentals, and fast fixer-upper ideas. The particular article many of us would appreciate deals with European car rentals – dangerous and usually expensive territory for non-savvy travelers. Try some of the suggestions you find here and then check out the rest of the site. Your wallet, time, and sanity will thank you!

Open Doors…Closed Windows

May 26, 2009 at 09:08 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Itri, Italy | 2 Comments
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Most of us have heard the expression “God never closes a door that He doesn’t open a window…”. I personally believe that myself …but… doors and windows seem to evoke other feelings and thoughts for me.

052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl1.jpg

When I look at a door, a closed door, I want it opened. I want to see in that door. I walk past a closed door or window shuttered and I want to throw them all wide open – to peer into every corner. Not that I want to be the local peeping Tomasina or anything like that. Well, maybe I do??? Hmmm. Guess I might need to think about that…. Nah. I don’t. But I do want to see in all those closed doors and shuttered windows. I want to know who is behind Door # 1 and 2 and 3 and …


 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl2.jpgI think about the people who live there, what their lives are like, what they wanted it to be like. Were they disappointed, happy, weary? I try to imagine myself inside those doors.. would I be happy there? Was life there what I wanted life to be or would I be disappointed, looking for something more? This is never more true than when I gaze on doors and windows in Italy. I have 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl3.jpgdreamed for so many years of living in Italy that I wonder if I would find what I dream about or not.

052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl4.jpg

 But what about those doors and windows that are opened and can never be closed again? Those doors fascinate me even more, if that is possible. I wonder so about the people who lived behind them at one time. Were they there when tragedy struck? Were they a happy group or were they simply getting by emotionally and physically? Did they have the same dreams and prayers that I do or were they too busy to think about a future? Or were they dreaming of emigrating to somewhere else…were they looking for a new life? Why is it I see those 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl5.jpgpeople as someone with feelings and emotions and dreams and hopes for the future? I can almost hear their laughter around the table as fathers and mothers sit with their families. The sounds seem to still drift from those windows. 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl7.jpg
 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl6.jpgIt bothers me more that in today’s crazy world, others can look at the ruins and see joy that an enemy is destroyed. Do they not hear the cries of the children? Do they not think of the pain of the mothers who weep for their children? Do they not see the people as people? For me I wonder if those families heard the bombs, knew the last seconds of terror that they would die? When I see the bombed ruins of Italy I wonder so about those precious souls. My own mother in law heard the planes coming. She ran out from her house to see the plane aiming low and she sought refuge in the arched door of a church. She survived but hundreds died that day and 65% of the town was destroyed. These people who were farmers for the most part – and certainly no one the soldiers needed to fear. But the enemies were hiding in barns and alleys and other buildings and needed to be routed out. Those buildings sit still as silent reminders to the horrors of war but I listen instead for the laughter of the children, the joy of the parents. I chose to remember the families who lived there and see them like myself dreaming of a better future for the children. Throw open those closed doors and windows… maybe sunlight will allow others to see and hear them too. 052609_1307_OpenDoorsCl8.jpg

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