For about a generation, some contact was maintained with family who stayed behind in Italy. But as the older generations passed away, contact was lost with family in the old country. Luckily, Chris' great great aunt Josie was extremely organized and kept many photos, letters, passports and other documents in immaculate condition. Therefore, we had a lot of clues, so we decided to go check things out and see what we could turn up. At the very least it would be fascinating to see the town where Antoinette and Francesco had grown up, been married, and lived many years of their lives.
We thought the most logical place to begin was at the main church in Solofra, St. Michael's Cathedral. During his childhood, Chris' dad (also named Michael!) heard many stories about the beautiful cathedral so it was a real treat for him to finally see it in person. We arrived in town around 11am on a Friday and took a spin around the central part of town, then entered the cathedral to find a beautiful place:
At one point, Chris was going to leave to feed our parking meter since our time was up. He was stopped and told that he didn't need to pay for parking in Solofra because he was family. I guess word travels fast in Solofra!
We spent some more time talking to our new friends. While the other family of Maffei's had to get going, Monsignor Mario invited us to have lunch with him. We immediately accepted and accompanied him to his home in the back of the church where he prepared a feast for us! We had spagetti (al dente of course), homemade sauce, fresh olives, locally produced pepperoni, an amazing eggplant appetizer, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella, homemade white wine, fresh bread, olive oil and an amazing dessert. I was so full from lunch that I couldn't eat dinner that night!
I think Francesco and Antionette are probably smiling somewhere up above ;-)