Travel Club Fulfills A Dream
“Good fortune accompanied June and me on the Emerald Princess’ transatlantic cruise from Rome. A change in itinerary from Tunis to the port of Salerno meant that I would finally be able to realize the “bucket list” item of visiting my great-grandparent’s birthplace.
The town of Padula was near enough to the port to enable an in-person visit. The Museo del Cognomen (a surname museum) located in Padula and led by Michele Cartusciello and his English speaking assistant, Guiseppina had previously completed a great deal of research for me into the DeVito family name.Tours by Locals provided Angelo, an excellent companion and driver for the day.
It happens that an American journalist was in the area on that very same day to film a documentary about people in search of their roots. She asked if I would mind being interviewed. She hooked a microphone onto my lapel and followed us as we visited the records office (with several town officials present), and the church my great grandparents attended.
I was filled with emotion as we walked on the same streets and went to the house where my Great Grandparents Michele DeVita and Filamena Spiranza lived. I entered the cellar where Michele made his wine, and saw where they raised their children . To walk on the same streets was a dream come true. It was an extremely emotional day and one I knew I would not soon forget.
As if to be in places that were unchanged for hundreds of years was not thrilling enough, my hosts and the reporter ended my tour with a huge surprise. On the street of the DeVito’s home my cousin Vincenzo Tepedino suddenly walked right up to me.
The fact that he existed was known to the researchers and the reporter but kept secret from me until I was right there in front of the house where our great-grandparents lived. Tears were shed, hugs were exchanged with Vincenzo, his wife and two little boys, we were invited into their home, and of course, an invitation was extended to our newest family members to come to Solivita and visit Disney with us in the near future.”