It felt longer than 7 miles, perhaps because there were 6 of us in a small car, but once we arrived at the front patio of Antichi Sapori we had nothing but excitement.
In homage to my grandfather we retraced his steps. We flew over the ocean with some research and a few pictures to find family of his that he came to Italy to meet 40 years ago. For the Competti’s it would always be family first. Everything stops in time to host people for whom the blood flows the same. With a few empty addresses, and by finding a map posted only once we were in the small Italian town, and equipped with hope. Most of our relative’s street addresses we’d found in our research didn’t exist. Our name sake was in the name of a restaurant, seven miles out of town, and even that was suspicious, because once in Italy, the Antique Sapora restaurant had dropped the Competti name. That’s what we found when we arrived.
When my Grandfather had come forty years prior he could walk off of the Giulianova train to one of his Aunt’s homes. The luxury of knowing anyone still living where we originated was out of the question. Uncle Tom, who had traveled to Italy as my grandfather’s brother-in-law had just passed away two years ago. What had been walkable to my grandfather all those years ago was unreachable now without any direction. The hopes of recognizing my mother’s sister (as he had) was lost to us, only one generation later. So, we came to Giulianova knowing we had relatives here, we had their pictures of long ago faces and some names from my great aunt’s journey in the 90’s.
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org had been helpful but was limited to the American’s side of the ocean. How oceans would change us. How easily language could be lost on one generation. For two years my mother and I began to pull back layers and unearth something she had been born into.
Finding your family through genealogy can be addicting, especially when signatures, wedding dates and things they wrote in their own handwriting can be understood. These observations led to all sorts of possibilities –all in a search to understand where someone who is still living may be.
But, here we were with pictures, addresses, names and thing’s we’d cobbled together from our own relatives archives in Ohio to try and find someone from our past. The only plausible plan, finding family in a city of 20,000 was to start with a restaurant that at one time had our family’s last name. The Ristoranti di Antique Sapori was a quick cab ride away that cost 28 euros. Cabs didn’t get much exercise there apparently. Up to the Angelo di Mosciano hills, past Giulianova of the ancient city, we rode into a quaint village lined with stone houses and this restaurant entrance with a sunken courtyard we couldn’t all fit in at once. The view over the hills was priceless. From the flower box window of this restaurant we could see rows and rows of live grape vineyards. We were the only people there at one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. The single woman there spoke no English and we barely spoke Italian though that didn’t deter my Mom and I. We politely ordered what we thought would be a good sampler for us all –thin meats, lamb on the bone, fried cheese… and then we asked. “Is this the restaurant owned by the Competti’s?” Our waitress didn’t understand. So, we let it go. When she came back again with our starter we couldn’t help ourselves. We asked again and this time our Italian language meant something. To which she responded that, oh, the restaurant had been sold three years ago and she thought the Campetti’s now owned a Chateau restaurant down on the water, but, they were on vacation at this time and the restaurant was closed. Oh, well ok. We began eating. The food was incredible.