Yesterday was surreal- maybe more than the rest of my trip so far. I prepared for my day, knowing that not only would I meet my dad in a town I'd never visited before here in Italy, but that our cousin- who we'd never met - would welcome us. I hopped a regional train from Borgo San Lorenzo through the stunningly gorgeous towns of the Appenines...and into the plains surrounding Milano. I had FOUR MINUTES to switch trains in Faenza, which is thankfully a small station...and made it just in time.
Aboard the second train, I spoke Italian and French with a Senegalese immigrant. I watched factories, farms, and fields go by the window. I went through Modena (center of balsamic vinegar) and Parma (for those fans of prosciutto di Parma!). And then I arrived in Piacenza, where I took a taxi to The Green Fly Bar - owned by my cousin!
Inside, my dad was waiting for me, with an incredible story- he flew into Milan that morning, and originally, my cousin Cinzia was supposed to pick him up. But she had to work overtime, so he planned to take a bus, train and taxi. Well, he met two men from Parma on the flight, and after a bit of conversation, they insisted that they would drive him right to the Green Fly. And they didn't even accept un caffe for their kindness!
It was great to see my dad there- and before my cousin Cinzia arrived from work (her husband Pino owns the bar), we decided to take a walk around the centro storico (historic center). Piacenza is half an hour southeast of Milan, a small city of about 90,000 residents - but lovely!
My dad was stunned to see so much historical beauty and good urban design in his first twelve hours in the country:
And later that night, when Pino was done at the bar, we walked together (while he biked) to a bar for aperitivo then a local "Osteria Commercio" (where workers traditionally eat simple but delicious and fresh meals). My dad took a spin on the bike afterward...
(I think he was pretty happy in this moment).
Today, we walked around in the misty rain, and later fog...we talked about life, death, and everything in between. We ogled beautiful giardini, carved wood doors, and piazzi.
Dad pointing out the house he's going to buy. ;)
And tonight was a little soiree at the Green Fly, to celebrate one month in business...we made some new friends who were kind enough to speak poco Inglese con noi...
Me with la mia cugina (my cousin) Cinzia:
My Dad with Pino, Cinzia' husband, who is molto comico...
And my Dad with Cinzia. It has meant so much to all of us to meet for the first time. And we can even communicate, pretty well!
Despite the fact that I'm a family historian, meeting my dad, and my cousins, had nothing to do with my genealogical research! They all came to me separately from that work. Funny how life can surprise you. I encourage you to reach out to the distant relatives you've never met, because you never know what kind of great relationships you might be missing out on!
A dopo (till later)...buona notte!