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Should I visit Italian relatives

Should I visit Italian relatives

Old Jun 30, 17, 4:59 pm
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Should I visit Italian relatives

My paternal grandfather and grandmother were from Avezzano in the Abruzzi region and came to the US around 1903. My 16-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl (half-Chinese by ethnicity. 1/4 Italian) want to visit Italy in 2018. I visited Italy about 20 years ago (Florence) and had a great time. My question is, with so much time gone by, would I be welcomed or considered weird, if I tried to visit my Italian relatives next year. My grandfather had a relatively uncommon name, so they won't be hard to find. I should also add that I don't speak Italian.
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Old Jun 30, 17, 5:38 pm
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Does anyone in the extended family keep in touch with them? if so..then it wouldn't be weird... but otherwise,,,well...I wouldn't. Id feel like a complete stranger....
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Old Jun 30, 17, 5:48 pm
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Well don't just show up! You're better off reaching out in advance and seeing if they want to meet up and have a coffee. If they're open to it and you're interested in the same, why not?
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Old Jul 1, 17, 4:40 am
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Originally Posted by PWMTrav View Post
Well don't just show up! You're better off reaching out in advance and seeing if they want to meet up and have a coffee. If they're open to it and you're interested in the same, why not?
Indeed.

On a slightly different note, it will be a relatively easy trip in terms of logistics for you: flight to Rome, bus from Terminal 3 (Prontobus, it leaves from one of the parking stands facing the arrival area at T3) which will get you to Avezzano in less than 2 hours (the bus only stops at the other Rome airport, Ciampino, before heading east to Abruzzo via the A24/25 motorway). There's plenty to see in the area so once you get your travel plans sorted make sure you pop by again so that we can come up with a few suggestions

G
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Old Jul 1, 17, 5:42 am
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We visited cousins in Palermo. The only thing that I knew about them were that they were cousins. But, my uncle had kept in touch with them. He was able to send an e-mail and set it up before hand. Turns out, when my grandparents were still alive, they had sent pictures of us growing up. My cousins knew who we were, but we did not know them.

We were able to see the small hill town and the house where my grandfather grew up. We had been told many stories about the town, so it was great being able to see where the stories took place.

If you can try to arrange it beforehand, I would encourage you to do it.

Last edited by KathinJax; Jul 1, 17 at 1:07 pm
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Old Jul 1, 17, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by DaileyB View Post
My question is, with so much time gone by, would I be welcomed or considered weird, if I tried to visit my Italian relatives next year.
You would be welcomed, and treated like a King. I would do it.
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Old Jul 1, 17, 11:56 am
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I also think that you should reach and visit. My college roommate has all kinds of great stories about visiting his distant Italian relatives. It sounds like he and his family were treated ... well, like family.
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Old Jul 2, 17, 1:45 am
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The only problem will be the language, but Italian Americans are always welcomed back open arms as those that "made it" in the hardness of times.

Abruzzo is one of the areas that paid the higher toll in terms of depopulation due harsh economic conditions post war, and everyone looking back to discover his own roots is treated like a son of that land.
No need to be a Bill De Blasio or Rudy Giuliani, locals feel for the most part a sense of gratitude towards the US of A.
I would do it, of course reaching out in advance to let my intentions known.
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Old Jul 2, 17, 6:14 pm
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Thanks for the many good suggestions and insights. Will probably contact [distant] relatives. My initial idea is to contact them informally several days ahead of time and see if they have any interest. Will emphasize that I am contacting them late to make sure that there are no preparations and no extra effort expected on their part. Will still run this through in my mind as to the best way to contact them.

Also, know virtually nothing about Abruzzi. Did just read the wiki entry on it, and apparently there is a good bit there between medieval hill towns, parks and good food. My son is a hiker, but I am not. In any event, suggestions as to what to see and visit would be greatly appreciated. Should probably add that one difficulty of the trip is that it would make it very difficult for my children to make the normal yearly visit we take to China so they can see their aunts and uncles.

Thanks again.
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Old Jul 2, 17, 7:28 pm
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I think you should contact them well ahead of time, because no matter what there will be some level of preparation, such as changing their schedule and plans, and it could be taken as inconsiderate to expect them to do it at the last minute.
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Old Jul 2, 17, 8:40 pm
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Originally Posted by DaileyB View Post
My grandfather had a relatively uncommon name, so they won't be hard to find.
Don't bet on that. Some names that seem uncommon in the USA when you get to a smallish town you find dozens of people with that last name

Originally Posted by DaileyB View Post
Also, know virtually nothing about Abruzzi. Did just read the wiki entry on it, and apparently there is a good bit there between medieval hill towns, parks and good food. In any event, suggestions as to what to see and visit would be greatly appreciated.
Abruzzo is real authentic, non-touristy Italy. The town you are going to is quite large, and not that scenic, but Abruzzo is sometimes called the "greenest region in Europe" because it has 3 national parks, and several dozen protected nature preserves. It has glaciers, lakes, and if you go all the way to the coast there are beaches.

There's great food culture, with a focus on sheep and lamb, and near the Adriatic, lots of seafood. There's great art in L'Aquila.

There's something called, "I Borghi piu belli D'Italia," or the most beautiful towns in Italy. It's a distinction given to places that have maintained their original, authentic culture and taste, and helps to preserve them. Some people make a visit of doing a circuit, and seeing as many as they can. Abruzzo has 21 of them, second only to Umbria, which has 25. You might consider renting a car and touring these areas, stopping and eating and drinking the local food and wine. During the nice parts of the year these borghi have many festivals and parties, with local food, music, entertainment. You might look them up and visit them, and soak up the local culture. The city you are going to find your relatives is not that special, but a lot of Abruzzo really is.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Borg...lli_d%27Italia
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Old Jul 5, 17, 12:57 pm
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I had a similar situation in reverse a few years ago. I found out I had somewhat distant cousins living in Cologne that I knew nothing about - I knew I might still have family somewhere in Germany but had no idea what their names might be or how to find them.

One of them was in New York on vacation a year or so after I learned about them and we were thrilled to finally meet.

I agree that it's best if you can contact your relatives in advance. I'm not sure how I'd have felt if people just turned up on my doorstep and claimed to be my long-lost family.
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Old Jul 11, 17, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
You would be welcomed, and treated like a King. I would do it.
Exactly, One of my best friends visits Italy quite often and reached out to some relatives. He was welcomed like a favorite friend and now always makes time to see them.
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