|Teresa (Scalora) Borgia and grandson Andrea Farru with picture of her parents in 1921|
When we delved deeper, we come to find out Giovanni’s mother-in-law came from the same village as my paternal grandparents, Piana degli Albanese. “You must come to Sunday dinner,” Giovanni urged. “Come meet your cousins.” It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
|Capo Bastone taking a break from olive harvest|
As we came to the door, Giovanni’s mother in law, Teresa met us. I did a double take. She looked so much like my dad’s friend Mario (whose family also came from the village) that I know I must have looked shocked. Little did I know they were also doing their double takes? When I saw the old family photos from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s I would realize their surprise as well.
|Teresa's grandparents, Antonina La Rocca and |
Giovanni Scalora in 1895 in Piana degli Albanese
Teresa welcomed us speaking Arberesh, the local language with roots in Albanian. I spoke the few words I knew and she lit up. Teresa is in her late 70’s and came to Tuscany, married a fine man from the area near Volterra and set about raising her family . She still has a sister (now 93) living in Piana degli Albanese. I wonder if I met her one time or another. Teresa’s mother and my grandmother share the same surname, Scalora. Her mother and my grandmother were born two years apart. Now they really had me wondering. I knew I would have to turn this info over to my Scalora cousins in Austin and Houston, as well as in the Carolina’s and California. They will know.
|My first trip (tall one on the left) to Hora e Arbëreshëvet in 1971|
|Teresa's daughter, Elena Castellani, holding a picture of |
her beautiful grandmother in traditional Albanian dress.
Teresa and her daughter Elena brought out the first dish, a pappardelle with a meat ragu. It raised the hair on my arm. Stirred, not chilled. Déjà vu. Sundays at my grandmothers down to the decorative wine glasses.
|1971 - My grandmother's sister surrounded by her daughters in Hora e Arbëreshëvet|
How do these intersections of life and family occur so randomly? We are in the Tuscan countryside, picking olives, away from everywhere, and we run into what most likely are second or possibly third cousins, sharing food and wine over the family table just like I did years ago with my grandparents. Was it an accident?
You pick the olives - the family picks you
|Manifest of the S.S. Italia as it sailed from Palermo on |
August 1, 1907 with many Scalora coming to the New World
No vertical or blind wine tastings, no truffles, no scores, no ulterior significance in this happenstance encounter. Just another Sunday family meal as many Italians have week after week, a lifetime full of them. And one I needed and enjoyed and will treasure for as long as I live.
|Now with Tuscan, Calabrese, Sardinian and American blood,|
all linked by a little village, once upon a time in Sicily.
written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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