My Valentino

My Valentino

About Me, Why Italy, Why Itri

I am a happily married woman – my husband is from Italy – we are parents to four adult sons. Our family now includes two great gals and five granddaughters – we are blessed! Extended family includes too many siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins by the dozens to list all of them here – but each name is written in our hearts and they are loved!.

I grew up in the small village of Easton, Connecticut.   Once a week, Samuel Staples Elementary School would walk a class over to the Town Hall basement to the town library. I would check out the maximum number of books allowed because I so loved to read. Soon I was through all of the books in my own division and the librarian made the decision to permit me more mature books. I discovered Don Camillo! Written by the Italian author Giovanni Guareschi, they were wonderfully written simple vignettes of Italian life in a Po River Valley town. The communist mayor was constantly battling the local parish priest. Aside from the flavorful way Guareschi presented an ageless moral and political struggle, this series seeped deep into my soul. I so loved these books, I hated to return them and would renew them over and over. Recently I was able to purchase old fragile copies of a few of them online and fell in love all over again. As a child they burned a dream into my heart of living in Italy but in time I got caught up in life and the dream was buried until I met Valentino. The visits to Itri awakened those dreams again. It was as if I had always known these familiar little villages and towns.


 My Italian sisters-in-law and I are more than mere in-laws. We are bound by love of family. Although not bound by blood, we are bound together by our love of this family. Realizing that family is fragile and could easily slip away, we search roots to bind us closer together. My natural sister and I share many common interests and see things alike, so we have begun our genealogical journey together to find the present and future from our past.   

 My mother-in-law told me my first week of marriage that I became her daughter as she had become a Di Crocco woman via marriage. As her sisters-in-law had with her then, now her daughters and daughters-in-law embraced and enfolded me into their family of Di Crocco women.

Now as I stand at the threshold of changing family, my four Di Crocco sons have become young men. It has become my turn to offer unconditional love and eagerly embrace and enfold daughters-in-law into this beloved family Di Crocco! As I share my sons, I see now the future shining brightly and beckoningly in the eyes of love of my new daughters!



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  1. Salute Kathy,
    thank you for a beautiful site. My husbands father (deceased) was from Itri and we were there last January. Currently, we are planning to go back in Sept. and stay for 3 months. We would also like to visit Cranston before going to Italy. Our first visit to Italy was 5 yrs ago and simply stated…I fell in love with Itri. We also have 4 adult children and 3 grandchildren born in the last 20 months.
    I actually wrote a book on our trip and had it printed – it turns out that Il Grottone Restaurant is related to my husband. We are also into genealogy. (Sorry, but when it comes to Itri and Italy….I have the gift of gab)
    I will be a loyal reader of your site,

    • Thanks Annette – but I am Bonnie (Kathy was commenting to me) – my husband’s great grandmother was Maria Teresa Ciccone (born 06 Apr 1841) married to Raffaele DiCrocco – her father was Giovanni Ciccone married to Vincenza Marina. Wonder if we are connected? Obviously we also love Itri – it is the home of our heart even though not our physical home. Il Grottone is a wonderful place – we enjoy it! Ha! By the way – title to your book? Is it available?
      Looking forward to chatting frequently!

  2. Hi Bonnie,
    Sorry about the Salute….. I didn’t want to leave you without a response but a lot has been happening here.
    The book I wrote came from the journal I hand wrote everyday in January. From departure in Orlando to arrival in Rome, to driving to Itri, then the f(*&% autostrada to Calabria then to Napoli and back to Rome. It wasn’t published – it was something I did as a gift to my children then friends and relatives wanted copies. It also has pictures of Itri and the Epoque Cafe, Il Grottone, etc. I think I could send you exerpts from the days in Itri – to your e-mail if you would like.
    Gotta run….next note will contain Ciccone connection.
    I await your response,
    essere un buon giorno

    • I would love the emails Annette! Okay – I am now very intrigued – you mentioned leaving from Orlando Airport – we also live in Florida – Brevard County specifically. Too funny because just one month ago we connected with a second cousin of Val’s via my other web page on freepages@ rootsweb. Turns out, they had moved to Florida and live only a couple miles from us.

  3. Ok, Bonnie – we’re in south Brevard…this is to funny. When I saw the picture of you and your husband – I had two immediate thoughts…1 – boy, do they look happy & 2 – he looks familiar.
    If I walk out to the mailbox tomorrow and see you…I’m gonna die…
    Ciao, Buono notte, annette

  4. Good Morning –

    The puzzle has been solved !
    I live in Palm Bay and I used to own
    Tutti Italia
    You live in W. Melbourne and you came
    in the store with your husbands cousin.

    I’d love to get together and talk all things

    • That was what Val and I decided this morning! Ha! We all remembered at same time! Anyway – Val’s grandfather Michele DiCrocco was married to Maria Teresa Ciccone (born 1841) – all from Itri so that is that connection. We will just have to figure out eactly how.
      As for your store – boy! We still mss you so! No one has ever filled that void and it is a shame! Your deli was the best ever in Brevard! Especially when I want special foods that I cannot find elsewhere. My sister-in-law is fantastic – she packs special treats like Salamoia in my packages from Italy! We love that in almost everything we cook – supposedly it is available in the US but we have not been able to find it anywhere so it must be a well-hidden secret except to some specialty stores in Italian districts. If you do not know name, it is a blend of salt (usually more coarse grind), thyme, rosemary, basil,etc. Families guard their personal recipes but this is a popular commercial one. It is used in soups, meats, vegetables. One of the favorites we like is to use heavily on cut up potatoes and roast them in the oven – awesome flavor.
      We must get together – we will have to share photos of Itri and reminisce about that special town. It is probably one of the best kept secret places but becoming more and more well-known. It is amazing the number of hotels and bread-and-breakfast type places opening there. I can certainly understand though because I love to go there and just let the rest of the world go away!

  5. How ’bout getting together some evening for espresso and sfogliatelle ?

    • Sounds perfect!

  6. Ok…e-mail me with your phone number so I can give you directions, date and time…how’s that?

  7. Thank you for including us with your family and friends.
    We would love to get together with you and Lil and Harry some afternoon.
    Let’s do is in 2009. We just talked about it in 2008.

  8. Hi Bonnie –

    How beautiful your narrative was about last weekend and conversations about Itri.
    You have a special knack for conveying the feelings of
    Itri and its people.

    We are blessed.


    • I think all of those of us who know Itri are blessed! She conveys the best of what average folks believe to be Italy….famiglia, good weather, beautiful surroundings, great food, and an over abundance of love, laughter, tears … all that is life!

  9. Hello Bonnie and Val…
    Sorry it took a while to get back to you but the Club has got me busier than I planned. I read your comments about last week and I was just humbled, you can be sure. I forwarded your blog to April and Mike and they responded with a dozen compliments on your blog and particularly about your “writing style”. April thought it an absolute pleasure to read and in-turn complimented her mother and father as you did.
    I can’t tell you how much Frank and I enjoy Amici del’Itri…I think we have the beginning of a new “club”. To be able to spend an evening every so often with friends from Itri and speak of Itri, well, what can I say…and I know you feel the same…It’s just the next best thing to being there. And speaking of that !!!!! We want to wish you both a safe trip and a million moments of joy while you’re there. We will be at Il Grittone on Thursday by noon…hope to have espresso with you and Val…(I can’t sit still) Ciao for now – Annette

  10. What a beautiful story! I too and from CT and love the Don Camillo books (I read them in Italian when I was staying in Parma a few years back.). I wondered if you might be able to tell me how to get to Campodimele if I don’t drive in Italy? I know you have to get off of the train in Formia, but then how to get up the hill??

    Also, do you know of a place to stay in Campodimele that is right in the village square itself?

    Thanks very much!

  11. Hi Bonnie, Thanks for reporting on Itri. I was born in Itri and want to fill in blanks in my family tree. My father was Felice Palazzo, b1922 and my mother, Elisa Fusco b.1921. I have info on their parents and siblings too. I’ve been on Ancestry.com, but there are so many Fusco’s and Palazzo’s. Any helpful hints? Thanks, Anna

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