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It took 81 years…

In the earliest part of last century a very large number of young and brave people left central and southern Italy to come to America for a better living. They raised their own family and then, as time went by, most of them slowly lost all contacts with the family they had left in Italy.

By now their grandchildren and great-grandchildren have even forgotten where exactly their fathers came from. However, they all have kept in their heart the desire to find it out, visit the town of their family roots, step inside the humble house of their forefathers and meet their living relatives.

To help those Italian-Americans accomplish that dream has been one of the missions of the Italian Heritage Tours. In fact, if they can come up with the name of the little town, using a simple secret, I can quickly arrange for their dream to come true.

Yes, I have helped hundreds of people to “reconnect” with their lost-relatives. Those family reunions always turn out to be very emotional and a memorable experience for the fellow travelers.

Among such numerous first encounters the most touching one was that of Vincent Mancini and his sister Lucia. In 1912 Lucia’s parents left the little town of Force in central Italy and went to America. In that risky adventure they preferred not to take their 11 month old daughter Lucia; they entrusted her to the grandparents.

In 1914 Vincent was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and became an electronic engineer. The Mancini couple kept in touch with their daughter writing letters and sending money and clothes. Once things settled down, they sent for her, but Lucia preferred to stay with her grandparents whom she considered like her parents.

Both Mancini parents died rather young and then the relations between the two families faded away. In 1995, at the age of 81, Vincent decided to join a tour to Italy organized by the Italian Heritage Tours.

When I asked about his family roots all he knew was that his parents came from Force. Immediately I wrote letters to all Mancini families in Force and gave information about Vincent’s parents. Within a few weeks I received a letter announcing that Lucia was alive and 84 years old! You can imagine Vincent’s surprise and happiness!

During the tour, at one point, Lucia’s three daughters came to pick up their uncle Vincent. The entire town was waiting to see him meet his sister for the first time! The reunion was reported by the local newspapers with the Italian title: “It took 81 years to meet and embrace!”

Vincent spent two full days with Lucia and her family. When he came back to the group we asked him to tell all about the encounter. He was so moved that all he was able to say was: “I cried all the time I was there!” For the next three years, Vincent joined my tour and went to see his sister. He kept on telling me, “Remo, I owe you one of the happiest times of my life!”

Now Vincent and Lucia are both reunited forever in Heaven.

Remo Faieta

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