Walking our ancestral foosteps in Atina

My sister and I went to Atina, in the Frosinone province, on the 17th of April for 6 nights. We were picked up at Rome airport by our guide and genealogist for the week Alessandro Bovino. As all correspondence had been via e mail and face book we were relieved to see him waiting for us. We drove to Atina whilst Alessandro talked to us about our trip.

Atina was the birthplace of our great grandfather Petro Tamburrini in 1867. Alas we had never met him. He died before we were born. There are many stories surrounding him emigrating to Liverpool and who accompanied him too. We hoped at least to see some documentation confirming some of what we already knew. I am not sure what else we expected but we were not disappointed at all.

We went to a traditional place for lunch in Atina it was lovely and our trip was off to a good start. It was called La Botola Osteria. We had a private visit to the ducal palace in Atina and learnt about the history of Atina. Following this we went for a walk around this charming place which can’t have changed much since Pietro was alive. We were told we were standing on the street where Pietro was born and lived this was very emotional to say the least. We returned again in the evening to see this lovely place at night so peaceful.

Our second day in the land of our ancestors, we had a guided tour of the museum. This was very interesting and informative. Following this we went to the library and saw some family records for our branch of the Tamburrini family. Proof of some of the things we knew whilst adding to our knowledge. We left the library to go somewhere for a reason we were told. We went a short distance in the car and found ourselves at a blacksmiths workshop. Outside were approx 11 people who were all relatives of ours. It again was an emotional time for me. We spoke to the family members and they had brought photographs for us to share. We had a tour of the blacksmiths and were each given a piece of iron work. Who knows perhaps our ancestors had touched this metal. These people were fourth cousins of ours who could have not made us feel more welcome. We went to the old blacksmiths shop across the road where Pietro’s father would have worked his trade and perhaps our Bis Nonno would have played. We saw the old family home above the blacksmiths shop. We went to one of our relatives homes for a drink and were given pictures made by our relative mine was of the old blacksmiths.

We went for lunch at an Agro tourist farm very traditional ways of farming and producing produce which was delicious. In the evening we went into the national park and saw its beauty and saw Vicali castle which had been used as a hospital during the war. We finally went to eat.

Our third day began attending mass at the church Pietro and his parents would have worshipped. We saw the font where the Tamburrini family would have been baptised. We were with our relative who informed us of the different things within the church that our family had made altar gates etc. Following mass we were allowed to see some of the documents in the parish records that related to our family. We left Atina to visit Monte Cassino a very famous Abbey that our ancestors would have made pilgrimages to in the past. We found out later some of the items in the Abbey had been made by our family.

We returned to Atina to go back to the Ducal palace when we arrived there was a gathering of people approx 29. We were overwhelmed they had come to meet us and view the very large family tree Alessandro had compiled which clearly showed where we were all related even distantly. That evening we went to a local town to eat.

Our fourth day we went to see a local waterfall and had a walk around a town we stopped for an ice cream too. We returned to atina for their weekly market alas it was closing by the time we arrived. One of our relatives had invited us to her home for lunch. She was the local pasta maker/shopkeeper. We were there with her sister and her husband and son. Some 3 hours and seven courses later we bade our very grateful farewells. In the evening we went to eat at a grotto and were invited into a cave within the restaurant that had in the past been a wine repository.

Our fifth day we set off very early for a two hour drive through the mountains to Scanno. This is where Pietros mother was born. I only asked a short time before we went to Italy if we could visit his mother’s place of birth. With limited warning Alessandro managed to make this another wonderful experience of our visit. We met a friend of Alessandro’s in Scanno; he had local contacts in that area. We met the local parish priest who gave us a tour of the church and informed us of its history. We saw the font where Pietros mother our great great grandmother was baptised. The priest very kindly gave us unlimited access to the parish records and we saw so many of our ancestor’s names in the huge tomes. We then went to the town hall and much to our surprise one of our relatives came to meet us. He invited us to his home alas we did not have time. We went to where Alessandro’s friend was from and we went to his aunt’s restaurant. We were invited into the kitchen and had great fun making pasta. Our lunch somehow seemed nicer having been in the kitchen. Following lunch we met a local tourist officer who showed us some local attractions including a waterfall and an ancient waterwheel. We finished off going to a cave where a saint had been a hermit on the banks of a lake a very tranquil place. We returned to Scanno and met a relative who took his to his grandmother’s house where we met her and her daughter. The grandmother was 94 yrs old and would be my grandfather’s cousin. She was the closest relative we met. We were lucky to view her traditional costume worn by the ladies some time ago.

Our last day, sad to think it but blessed that at the age of 60 I had finally managed to see the place I had always felt so close to. I only wish my father and grandfather could have visited also. We started our day with a visit to the cemetery we saw many Tamburrini graves. Following that we went to say our goodbyes to some of the family including Angelina and her family at the pasta store. Also to the people whose house we went to after the blacksmiths store. We went to a couple’s home for dinner but they had arranged for us to go out. We went into the countryside and visited the summer home of D.H Lawrence. What a privilege that was a private visit followed by food and drink served as in the old ways on wooden boards without cutlery it was a great experience.

We found that Pietro had a brother and sister who sadly died in childhood so no very close relatives. But the distant ones we met ALL made us feel so welcome.

I remain in contact with Atina via social media and also via e mail with a distant cousin who keeps me up to date with family.

Could we have seen and done all this without Alessandro? Well the short answer is no. We couldn’t speak Italian to begin with. He had also been there many days before our visit looking through records talking to people and generally making our trip so memorable. He drove us everywhere during our stay. He was the coordinator of everything we saw and did. Would I recommend his services without a doubt YES YES YES