This is a great email I got from one of my clients who had just returned from a trip to Italy and Sicily. While there he had the opportunity to visit his ancestral town of Vallelunga Pratameno. Through an amazing number of coincidences and chance meetings, he ended up meeting a relative!
One of the places that we visited in Italy was Vallelunga. We drove there from Taormina. We had never rented a car there before, so this was a big journey for us.
The day before we went, we had met some Americans from Atlanta on a cable car. When we mentioned that we going to look for Vallelunga the next day, much to our surprise, they said that they had just been there. They told us about a world famous cooking school at a winery just outside Vallelunga.
So the next day off we went. The drive went well and the scenery was gorgeous. It reminded us of the Napa Valley. Sure enough, right on the autostrada we saw a sign for Vallelunga. After 30 kilometers of potholes and sheep in the road, we saw the sign for Vallelunga Pramento.
We drove through town and it looked like church has just gotten out. One of the bars was starting to draw a crowd. We drove right through the village and the road started to go up a hill. I saw two ladies walking and asked them, “Parla Inglese?” One lady said I do, and I asked her if she knew where the winery was. Amazingly, she said that she owned it but it closed on Sunday. She offered to sell us some bottles of wine since we had traveled so far, but when she said they had a website I told her that I would order some online when we got home.
I then told her that my Grandmother’s maiden name was Sorce and I was curious If she knew the name. She said that she knew the name but that the Source family lived in MUSSOMELI, not Vallelunga. I thanked her and I asked her to recommend a restaurant. She told us that an excellent restaurant was just 500 meters away.
We went to the restaurant and asked the owner, who spoke no English, about the name Sorce. (Remember, posso parlare un po Italiano solo – I can only speak a little Italian.) Five minutes later a man walks into the restaurant, sits down with us and says, “Mi chiamo e Liborio Source!”
Well, thanks to you, I know that the Salvatore/Liborio names run throughout my grandmother’s Sorce family. He knew my Grandmother’s name and I think that he must be her father’s brother’s grandson, or something like that. He is married, 62, a carpenter, the last Sorce in Vallelunga, has no children, and his wife will not fly so they have never been outside Italy. Pretty cool meeting, huh? I have his number and I might have my Italian teacher
call him and see what else I can learn.
Two other quick stories. In Caccamo, my Grandfather’s hometown, we saw the castle where family lore says that a relative was once upon a time a castle guard. We also saw Scimeca’s meat market which could be the family of Francesca Scimeca that you mentioned in your latest report. Lastly, we saw the name Ciaccio on a unpaid tax bulletin at city hall. Oops.. !
We also visited a beautiful island that your research uncovered – Ustica. You may recall that one Ciaccio wandered over there and married. We couldn’t find him when we were there, but several people told us that a Giuseppe Ciaccio still lives on the island.