family travel Italy small towns Naples
A travel client from my home town of Philadelphia visited for the first time the place in Southern Italy where his parents came from; he was accompanied on the trip by 14 family members spanning three generations.
One of the trip objectives was to find and meet his relatives and, over the course of several months, we inquired without success by phone and in person with the local officials of this small town to identify these relations. We were told to seek additional documentation such as marriage certificates to speed-up the search, which we did, but without results.
When our client finally arrived in the town, he went to the municipality where he was promptly invited to return in the afternoon. More of the same! While waiting to return, he and several family members decided to go to a nearby restaurant; here, over a leisurely Southern Italian lunch, he explained his predicament to the host who volunteered to accompany him to his afternoon appointment as well as ask around regarding his relatives.
At the town hall, prompted by the restaurant owner it was finally revealed that most paper records were lost in a flood some years back! Meanwhile, the informal Southern Italian style search quickly paid off as a few relatives where identified and contacted. It turns out the family house in the town was in the same neighborhood as the restaurant and the town hall – a small town and a small world!
When my patient and savvy client recounted this experience and how his family went on to have a pleasant stay getting together on numerous occasions with the local family members, I said to myself all is well that ends well; but there is more to this story.
I have heard this happen over and over in Italy and elsewhere; it once happened to me too in Naples when a shopkeeper left a store full of customers and personally escorted me to one of those impossible to find addresses in the old quarter of the city. When I reminded him of his store full of customers, he just shrugged and replied that they could wait!
What is it about these people! Why are they so gracious and attentive in these times of unreturned calls and emails, unresponsive bureaucrats and others who think they can “app” their way around town and life?
I can think of several reasons; they all revolve around words and themes such as respect, responsibility, values and culture. You are cordially invited to post your views and true stories on communities, travel and related topics.