Let me tell you about my Grandma Pasqualina, a brave girl from Italy who made a big journey to America. She was from a small town called Moio di Civetella, close to Naples, with pretty hills and old buildings. This story is about how she left Italy and made a new life in America, a story that is very special to me and my family.
Back in 1908, Pasqualina, then only 16, faced a tough choice in her family's small home in Italy. Times were hard, and her family struggled to make ends meet. Her older sister was the one chosen to come to America. But when the time came, she was too scared to leave. Brave Pasqualina stepped up, knowing it was a chance to help her family, even though it meant she might never get to see them again.
Pasqualina's journey across the ocean to America wasn't easy. On the big ship, the rolling waves made her feel sick, and she felt every sway and tilt of the boat. Yet, throughout this tough journey, her bravery shone. She kept her thoughts on the new life waiting for her in America and how she could finally help her family back home. In her heart, she carried the truest form of love – the love for her family.
Arriving in America was a whole new world for Pasqualina, different from the tales she had heard. Instead of stepping onto the bustling Ellis Island, she found herself in Philadelphia. In her letters home to Italy, she painted a picture of a lovely job working with beautiful flowers. But the reality was quite different. Pasqualina spent her days in the fields under the hot sun, not among flowers, but picking onions from dawn till dusk. It was a demanding and tiring job, yet she endured it with strength and love for her family, never once thinking of giving up.
Pasqualina's early years in the U.S. were marked by considerable hardship, a stark contrast to her life back in Italy. She often recounted to me how she lived in what could barely be called a house; it was more of a shanty, a rickety structure of wood so frail you could almost see through to the outside. The image of that old wooden cabin, half falling apart in the winter cold, is vivid in my mind. The cold wind mercilessly blew through the walls, a scenario almost unimaginable for someone from Italy. Back home, even the barns, sturdy and built with masonry walls, offered more protection than this.
In Italy, buildings were constructed to endure, their masonry walls standing strong and resilient. The idea of living in a wooden structure, especially one riddled with holes, was unfathomable. To this day, whenever family or friends from Italy visit us in the U.S., they can't help but express their surprise at the construction materials we use. Drywall, a common building material here, is alien to them. They often jestingly refer to our homes as "cardboard houses." We all share a laugh at this cultural difference, a lighthearted moment born from Pasqualina's struggles and resilience in those early, challenging days
After Pasqualina married my grandfather, they moved into a nicer house. She had a special way of making everything feel warm and cozy there. I always loved visiting her place because it was so clean, organized, and welcoming – it felt like home. And oh, how she could cook! The whole house would be filled with the delicious smell of her Italian cooking, especially her tomato sauce, which was the best I've ever smelled! Each time I walked in, the aroma of her dishes would wrap around me, a reminder of the love and care she put into every meal. I have fond memories of going to her house for Thanksgiving, where we had an unusual but delightful mix of turkey and lasagna – funny, right? But that was Grandma Pasqualina, blending traditions with her unique touch
The last trip I made to my Grandma Pasqualina’s hometown, Moio di Civitella, just outside of Salerno, was with my sister. We stayed at a farm B&B, an Agriturismo, which Italy is famous for. These farms offer the chance to experience local, home-cooked meals, something we were eager to try, especially since there aren’t many restaurants in that part of Italy. When we started to smell the tomato sauce being prepared, we were astounded. The aroma was exactly like Grandma Pasqualina's sauce. It was unbelievable! How could that be? She had left this place at the age of 16. How could she have replicated the cooking of her hometown so precisely in America? We were both in awe and joy. This experience, the taste and smell of the sauce, made us feel as though Grandma was right there with us, sharing in the joy and flavors of the meal. We often reminisce about that day and the incredible connection we felt.
Whenever Grandma Pasqualina spoke about her journey to the US, her words were filled with gratitude. She had to leave her family in Italy when she was just 16 and tragically never saw her parents again, unable to return until after WWII. By then, both of her parents had passed away. The weight of such an experience is hard to imagine – no phones to keep in touch, no chance for a final goodbye. Yet, despite these hardships, she always expressed gratitude for the life she had in the USA. She cherished her new life, found joy in every day, and never looked back with regret. Her resilience and unwavering gratitude made her a true saint in my eyes. As we now gather around our tables, drizzling Papa Vince olive oil over our meals, we're not just enjoying delicious flavors; we're honoring a legacy of strength, resilience, and gratitude – a legacy that Pasqualina so gracefully embodied and passed down to us.
Now, it's your turn to share and inspire. By telling us your family's story, you're not only preserving our rich Italian heritage but also stepping into the chance to win in our special giveaway. Imagine winning and receiving 900 Papa Vince Loyalty Points, worth $15, to spend on our authentic products.
Believe me, it will inspire your life and the life of your family.
Writen by Stefano Feo posted by Vitina Feo