THE ITALIAN CONNECTION

 

By

 

Sandra Irene Harris (nee Bosi)

 

Published 16 February 2009

Updated 26 August 2009

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INTRODUCTION

 

I was born in Wolverhampton in 1940, the daughter of an English mother, Kate Portsmouth (born 1907), and an Italian father (though by then, naturalised British), Bruno Bosi (born 1907).  I have an older brother, Terence Peter Bosi, born in Wolverhampton in 1933.  Our father was a Confectioner who owned a Confectioner’s shop selling sweets, chocolates, homemade Italian ice cream and cigarettes.  His father, Emilio Pietro Bosi (born 1876) had come to Britain as an economic immigrant towards the end of the 19th century, when he was just a boy.  We knew nothing of the history, only that he came from Barga in Tuscany and sold plaster statues from door-to-door, to make a living.

 

Emilio Pietro obviously prospered here in the UK because, eventually, he became a Confectioner, owning his own shops.  He married Irena Motroni from Barga, but we do not know where they married.  They lived in Wolverhampton and raised three sons, Paris, Italo and my father, Bruno (see photo on the left, taken in 1917, of Emilio, Irena and their sons).  Paris and Italo were both born in Wolverhampton, but due to difficult confinements with the first two children (probably due to the language barrier, as Irena spoke very little English), she went back to Barga for my father’s birth.  She returned to Wolverhampton with Bruno when he was only 6 months old.  Sadly, he was never to return to his birthplace, although he did see service with the British Army in Italy in 1944.

The Bosi family became naturalised as British citizens in January 1921 and continued to prosper in Wolverhampton in the pre-war years. My grandfather, Emilio Pietro, became quite the man-about-town, mixing in business circles and playing Crown Green Bowls for the famous Molineux Club as well as for the Staffordshire County team.  In 1936, he won a national medal, whilst playing for Staffordshire against Yorkshire in the British Crown Green Bowling National Championship. My father, Bruno, left school and went straight into the business and was eventually set up with his own shop in Whitmore Reans, a suburb of Wolverhampton.

Bruno married my mother, Kate Portsmouth on 24th April 1930, at St Anthony of Padua Church, Wolverhampton. My brother Terry was born on 28th February 1933 and I was born on 24th February 1940.  At the outbreak of war in 1939, Emilio Pietro’s business was at its peak when he owned 4 confectionary shops and 3 other properties.  However, during the war years the businesses declined.  Emilio Pietro died of a heart attack in December 1951.  In 1940 my parents moved to Oxley in Wolverhampton and opened a Confectioner’s Shop, which my father owned from 1940 through to his retirement in 1971, apart from his absence on military service during World War Two.  My mother, Kate, and my grandfather Emilio Pietro Bosi managed the business during those years. My father also became something of a Crown Green Bowls Champion, playing for Wolverhampton and winning trophies and, in fact, died of a heart attack whilst playing in April 1986.

 

 

 

THE SEARCH

 

Although my brother Terry and I knew little about our Italian roots, we became intrigued when Aunt Irma Bosi, nee Tazioli, former wife of Uncle Paris Bosi, who was my father’s eldest brother, sent me a postcard of the Duomo (main church), in Barga.  Irma told us that, as a child, she had attended our father’s christening there, which increasingly intrigued us over the years and so, eventually, we had a starting point from which to research our roots.  But sadly, my father died before we were able to even think about visiting Italy and research our Family Tree.

My husband, Graham Peter Harris, and I had an opportunity to spend a holiday in Barga, with our friends Roger & Brenda Virnuls, in the summer of 1991.  We searched the churchyard, and asked around locally, but could not find any trace of the Bosi name.  None of us spoke Italian at that time and this made our search all the more difficult.

Then, in 2005, Graham and I, together with my brother, Terry and his wife Mavis, nee Kirkham, went on a holiday ‘Tour of Tuscany’, which was based at La Pergola Hotel in Barga.  Again, we found no direct Bosi connection, although I had now started to learn Italian but only had a basic knowledge of the language.  The holiday was a great success and served to whet our appetites for finding a real family link.

We arranged a third visit to Barga in the summer of 2006, when Graham and I met our eldest daughter, Julie Harris and her partner, Lance Thompson, in Pisa.  We hired a car, drove up to Barga and spent a whole week exploring the mountain paths and researching family roots. By now, my grasp of Italian was improving, so we had the confidence visit the priest at the Duomo in Barga and view the christening records.  This was an extra-ordinary experience: though communication was difficult, the priest invited us into his record room, which held christening and funeral records going back for many hundreds of years.  Again, we were disappointed not to find my father’s and grandfather’s records.  Then, our first real break-through came when the priest informed us that there were no Bosi families in the little hilltop township of Barga.  They were to be found, however, just down the hill in the surrounding villages, which were still within the geographical boundaries of the administrative area of the “Commune di Barga”.  It appeared that Aunt Irma might have remembered the wrong church!

 

However, whilst in Barga, we did trace the former home and the last resting place of my Aunt Irma’s sister, Anna Rosa Vernolini (nee Tazioli), i.e. on my grandmother’s side of the family. Sadly, Anna Rosa had passed away in October 2004, so she had been living in this house during our first two visits to Barga, but we had failed to find her, because we did not know of any links to that side of the family.

 

So now, on the advice of the priest, we searched the nearby churchyard at Loppia, just a mile or so down the hill from Barga.  To our surprise and delight we made a great breakthrough - we found the graves of many Bosi families.  Alas, the church was locked and we could not find its priest.  As we had no names of my ancestors, we photographed the Bosi graves for future reference.

Back at the hotel, we were relating our story to an American woman, who was also on a genealogical quest.  She was able to direct us to the township of Coreglia Antelminelli (see www.borghitalia.it ), the next hilltop town just a few miles down the Serchio Valley.  Here, there is a museum called “Museo della Figurina di Gesso e del’Emigrazione” which was dedicated to the economic migrants who left the valley to make and sell plaster-cast statues!  At last, we had found the key to understanding my grandfather’s story!

We visited the museum at Coreglia Antelminelli the very next day and were able to establish the history of the migration around the turn of the 19th century. In medieval times, the Italian Peninsular was covered by a patchwork of city states, including Venice, Florence, Lucca, Rome, and Sienna, etc.  Outlying towns, such as Barga and Coreglia Antelminelli, pledged allegiance to one or other of these city-states, in return for which they were empowered to raise local taxes in the form of road tolls for travellers and goods passing through their territory.  Such towns, which would otherwise have depended upon subsistence farming on marginal land up in the valleys, were financially supported by these taxes.  However, when modern Italy was formed in 1871, the city-states were subsumed and their laws and regulations became defunct.  Hence the little towns lost their tax income overnight and were driven into abject poverty.

One very special skill that existed in the 19th century, in the Serchio Valley, was that of making plaster cast statues from hand carved wooden moulds.  This had originated for the purpose of making religious statues for churches, known as “Figurine” and “Figurinai”.  So, the master craftsmen were sent out, with teams of very young boys, to make and sell these statues and return money to the Valley.  Initially, they walked through Italy as peddlers, selling from town to town, but soon they were over the Alps and selling across Europe.  Eventually, mostly via the port of Genoa, they spread out across the world, settling in the UK, USA, South America, Australia and even China.  The migration into the UK was mainly into Scotland, possibly because the Trans-Atlantic ships called in at Greenock, en-route for New York.  To this day, there are still strong cultural links between Barga and many parts of Scotland, particularly Ayrshire and Glasgow. 

So, at last we had an important clue as to why Emilio Pietro had left Barga, as a boy, selling statues.  Sadly, we now realised the significance of the two plaster statues of a shepherd and shepherdess, which had graced our parents’ lounge for many years (without an explanation by our parents) but which had by now long been discarded.

Whilst in Coreglia, we also visited the cemetery, and again found many Bosi graves, but still no priest to question. Again, we photographed these graves for future reference, but Lance observed that one or two of them looked recently tended.  He suggested that we compose a short introductory note in Italian, and leave a copy on the best-tended graves.  That evening armed with my trusty dictionary, I composed the following note and inserted copies into 3 waterproof bags:

“Forse sono parente con la vostra famiglia?  (Perhaps I am related with your family?)

Mi chiamo e Sandra Harris (nata Bosi), Inglese.

Mio padre, Bruno Bosi, e nato nel Commune di Barga il 27.02.1907.

Mio nonno, Emilio Pietro Bosi, e nato nel Commune di Barga il 25.09.1876.

I genitori di mio nonno erano Antonio e Paolina Bernardini Bosi.

Per favore, se le fa piacere mi puo scrivere:            (Please, it would please me if you would write to :)

 

Name:             Sandra Harris (Mrs.)

 

(Details of our address, telephone number and e-mail were also given)

Sarebbe una cosa gradita per me e ricevere una tua lettera, grazie.

PS:      Scusa per il mio Italiano.”

With no great expectation of success, we left two of these notes on graves in Loppia and one in Coreglia Antelminelli, but went home happy to have discovered the story of the emigration.

SUCCESS!

 

Shortly after our return home, we received a letter from a woman in Lucca saying that she had found our note, but didn’t believe that we were related as all her relatives had now died.  I replied and thanked her anyway, pleased to have received a response.

Meanwhile, our interest in genealogy had led Graham to create the Harris family tree, which, with Lances’ help, was published on a website (see http://www.balmerino.info/harrisfamilytree/). This generated an e-mail contact from Duncan Ward, a long-lost nephew of Graham’s, who was also researching family roots.  Duncan was able to provide us with a lot of information on Graham’s side of the family, but he had also made contact with the Vernolini family in Dunfermline, to whom I was related via the Motroni’s (i.e. on my grandmother’s side of our family).

My father had always told us that he had a cousin named Umberto Vernolini in Dunfermline, with whom he had lost touch.  In fact, on one occasion more than 40 years ago, whilst touring Scotland by car with my Mom and Dad, we had detoured into Dunfermline to try to find them, without success.  Now we made contact via e-mail, using the data provided by Duncan, with Umberto’s two sons Umberto (Bert) and Frank Vernolini and their wives, Isobel and Evelyn.  Family details and photos were exchanged and agreement reached to meet, whenever an opportunity arose. 

In July of 2007, we went to Fife with my brother Terry and his wife Mavis, for a birthday party at the home of Julie and Lance.  Afterwards, on our way home, we set up a rendezvous with Terry, Mavis, Julie and Lance and met the Vernolinis’ at North Queensferry, by the Forth bridges.  We had a very pleasant lunch and exchanged more photos and data.

 

This represented our first major milestone in the search for surviving relatives from the Italian side of my family.  We have since kept in touch with the Vernolinis’ and hope to visit them from time to time, whilst in Scotland.

 

 

Several months later, we received a telephone call from a woman named Francesca, in Italian, but it was too much for me to follow.  A couple of days later, she called again, but this time using the translation services of a young neighbour named Roberta, who was fluent in English.  What she told me sent shivers down my spine!  It transpired that Francesca’s grandfather, Giovanni Bosi, was the brother of my grandfather, Emilio Pietro Bosi, so we were in fact second cousins!  She had found our note on her parents’ grave, Giovanni and his wife Eletta Chiappa, which was also the grave of her father, Adelsone Bosi.  Therefore, the note that we left on this grave had finally located our relatives in the Serchio Valley.  It was an incredibly emotional moment!

Over the weeks, we exchanged letters and family information and photos with Francesca and it transpired that Giovanni and Eletta had 9 children, all of whom had survived, so the potential for living relatives was huge!  We were now able to start to draw up the family tree of our long lost relatives, but there were still huge gaps in our knowledge of them.  After exchanging several letters with Francesca, we proposed a further trip to Barga in the summer of 2008, so that we could meet her and her family.  Eventually, we agreed to meet up for Sunday lunch on 22nd June 2008 and booked our trip accordingly.

My brother Terry and his wife Mavis could not travel with us on this trip, as Mavis was recovering from major heart surgery.  So, once again, Graham and I met Julie and Lance in Pisa, hired a car and drove up the Serchio Valley to stay at La Pergola Hotel for another week.  However, we had no idea at this point that we were about to experience a Family Reunion that was beyond our wildest dreams!

 

 

THE REUNION

 

On arrival at La Pergola Hotel on the evening of 18th June, an elderly Italian couple were waiting in reception and introduced themselves as Bosi’s!  It transpired that they were Francesca’s brother Antonio Bosi and his wife Emilia Bosi, nee Borgia.  They lived in the village of Silano, at the very top of the valley, and as they could not make it to lunch on Sunday, had come down to meet us and invite us back to their home for a meal.

We set up a table outside under the grapevines and spent a happy couple of hours exchanging family information, but even with help from the hotel staff, this stretched my limited language skills to their limits.  However, Graham and Antonio seemed able to converse using mime and sign language and we all had a lot of fun.

We finally agreed to visit Antonio and Emilia at their home for lunch on Monday.  Emilia promised to cook us some “cinghiale” which we translated as wild boar, so we had something new to look forward to.

 

On the Friday morning, Roberta, the English translator, phoned me to ask if Francesca and her family could come to see us at our hotel on the Saturday afternoon.  Again, we set up a drinks table outside under the grapevines and at 4.00 p.m., Francesca arrived with her husband Mario Venturi, their daughter Daniela and her daughter, Davina.  They also brought their friend and neighbour, Roberta Sheldon, the translator.

We were all immediately struck by the similarity of facial looks, expressions and mannerisms of Francesca’s daughter Daniela Venturi, with those of my own younger daughter Mandy Thomas (nee Harris).  We were also surprised to learn that Francesca’s grandfather, Giovanni had come to England with his brother Emilio Pietro (my grandfather), but Giovanni had returned to the valley soon after.  They also told us that the family home at the turn of the 19th century had been in the hamlet of Pedona, midway between Barga and Coreglia Antelminelli.  We enjoyed a very pleasant couple of hours, drawing up family trees and swapping information.

 

 

Mario bought a bottle of bubbly, with which we toasted the “Famiglia Bosi” and then invited us to join them back in Coreglia Antelminelli for a pizza supper at a nearby restaurant.  We visited their old family house in Coreglia Antelminelli, which they maintain as a holiday home, as they now live on the northern side of the mountains in Reggio Emilia.  Here we met Daniela’s partner, Guido for the first time.  Above the doorway of this house were the remains of a small coat of arms, which they told was that of their family.

We then walked to the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely evening, with Mario introducing us to various Italian delicacies, whilst trying to watch a European Cup match on TV, out of the corner of his eye.   They walked us back to the car park and showed us the rendezvous point outside the church, for our lunch appointment at noon the next day.  As we left, Mario hinted that Sunday lunch promised to be a rather large party and this was the first inkling that we had regarding a bigger family reunion….

So, on Sunday morning, we set off early for our lunch appointment and visited the hamlet of Pedona en-route.

We found a sleepy little village, again with a locked church and no priest to question.  The only couple that we could find knew of no Bosi resident there.  This task to find Emilio Pietro’s house will have to wait until another visit.

Having motored back up to Coreglia Antelminelli, we parked and went to the rendezvous point a little ahead of time.  There was one man sitting there, who looked a little like my grandfather, with his high forehead and bushy moustache, so I immediately engaged him in conversation, but it transpired that he was not related, but we enjoyed trying to converse!

Then Mario and Francesca arrived with the Venturi family together with a crowd of other people and a very emotional series of introductions began with hugs and kisses being freely given and received.  Francesca’s eldest brother Gianfranco Bosi appeared to lead the family and he was almost speechless with emotion.

We met Gianfranco’s children, Stephano, Emiliana and Barbara. Barbara was with her husband Andrea who, with a degree in English, was most helpful in translating the conversations.  Francesca’s son Daniele Venturi was also present.  From Pietro Guido’s family we met Elvira D’Alfonso nee Bosi, with her daughter Betty D’Alfonso. From Ottavia Mazzoti’s family, we met Mauro Mazzoti, and her daughters Alder Togneri nee Mazzoti and Anna Corradini nee Mazzoti.  From Ultimato’s family we met Valerio Bosi and his wife Tizania Bosi (nee Gonella), Valerio’s brother Alberto Bosi and his wife Manuela Bosi nee Biagioni.

After chatting and cooling off in the local bar, we proceeded to the restaurant at 1.00 p.m. for lunch.

What can only be described as a fantastic banquet then began, and went on for the whole afternoon, with countless courses being served, one after another! Late in the afternoon, we were honoured by the arrival of the last surviving offspring of Giovanni Bosi and Eletta Chiappa, when Ottavia arrived.  She was a charming old lady of 94 and seemed genuinely pleased to meet us, with more hugs and kisses, and to see our photos of her long-lost Uncle Emilio Pietro.

Mario Venturi, Francesca’s husband, proposed a toast to the “Famiglia Bosi” and Graham managed a short speech to thank all these relatives for coming to meet us, promising to return again with Terry and Mavis Bosi when this was feasible.  Once again, Roberta Sheldon was there to assist with the translation.  Thanks so much, Roberta!

Before leaving, we tried to get Francesca and Mario to agree to visit us in England, but she said that she was scared of flying – so we told them to come by train.  Julie and Lance made similar offers to entertain some of the younger members of the family at their cottage in Fife, Scotland.  We hope that some of this will one day happen.  Finally, Valerio Bosi asked if he could come and see us in our hotel in Barga before we went home, as he had some old family photos to show us.  Hence a meeting was set for Tuesday evening.

We then said our good-byes and returned to Barga, having experienced a most fantastic, emotional and unforgettable day.  I felt like a long-lost daughter returning to the fold, rather than a distant cousin whom no one had heard of. It was an amazing experience.

THE CINGHIALE EXPERIENCE

 

On Monday morning, Graham, Julie, Lance and I (plus dictionary) set off to drive up the valley to meet Antonio Bosi and Emilia Borgia Bosi, at their home in Silano, with very little idea of where they actually lived. Our plan was to find the village and then ask around.

The drive up the Serchio Valley was magnificent, although the one-way system in the town of Castelnuovo was a nightmare, which managed to tie Lance’s Sat-Nav up in knots.  We passed a series of picture post-card villages, and then as we approached Silano, which is the very last village before the top of the ridge, we saw Antonio and Emilia standing at the roadside waiting for us, outside their house.

We were made very welcome and given a conducted tour of the house, which was like a Swiss Chalet.  Inside, the living room was full of trophies, including a couple of wild-boar heads, at which point we began to realise that hunting was an important part of Antonio’s life.  In fact, he and his friends had been the regional champion wild-boar hunters for the last 2 years – not bad for a man of 72 years of age!

We chatted about family; they had five children, Cinzia, Katia, Ricardo, Alberto and Monia. We were shown their photographs, together with their five grandchildren.  We took copies by photographing their photos and did the same thing with a print of the Bosi coat of arms, which was hanging in their hall.  Without the help of translators, all this proved somewhat slow, but very enjoyable.

Emilia then called us to the dining table and proceeded to serve up yet another generous banquet as follows:

 

·        Home made Tagliatelli in Wild-Boar sauce

·        Casserole of Wild-Boar in a delicious sauce

·        Roast Wild-Boar with Marinated Porcini (ceps)

·        Local Cheese and Local Bread

·        Home made Flan with Pine, Hazel and Walnuts on a Fig Conserve   Base

·        Home Made Fruit Cake

 

All of this was augmented by a selection of local beers, with home made wines and liqueurs.  Poor Lance was driving, so he had to concentrate on double helpings of food!

This was a truly delightful meal, which we were privileged to have shared.

After lunch Antonio took us a beautiful ride to the top of the valley, which was about 10-minutes drive from their home.  Here the ridge represented the border between the provinces of Lucca and Reggio Emilia.  We returned to the house for coffee and tried to get Antonio and Emilia to agree to visit us in the UK.  It was clear that they had no aspiration to travel and that they were very cosy in their mountain retreat.  Besides, as Antonio said, he could never leave his hunting dogs!  They, in turn, invited us to go back and stay with them, whenever we had the chance. 

We said an emotional farewell and motored back to Barga after another fantastic day.

DOCUMENT SEARCH

 

On Tuesday 24th June, we visited the “Office of the Civil State” in Barga, which is like our Registry Office.  We were seeking copies of any Bosi family birth or marriage documents and hoped that my improving language skills would help us to succeed.  We were pleasantly surprised to find one member of staff spoke fluent English and we easily gave them whatever facts we had.

They were able to find and copy Emilio Pietro Bosi’s Birth Certificate and his brother, Giovanni Bosi and Eletta Chiappa’s wedding certificate.  They had no access to any earlier records, but suggested that we contact the priest down at his presbytery adjacent to the new church in Fornaci di Barga (where the road down from Barga meets the main valley road), from where he now covers the three churches of Loppia, Pedona and Fornaci di Barga. 

As there was no time left on this trip to follow up on this important lead, we have to put it on hold until our next trip to Barga, hopefully in 2009?  

PHOTO SWAP

 

That same evening, we met with Valerio Bosi and his wife Tizania at our hotel.

Valerio came armed with many photos’, from which it became clear that he was a football fan, who took great pride in the Italian National team.  Although they spoke very little English, we had by now developed the skills required to communicate.  Valerio showed us a photo of himself in a local team, whose strip was red and white stripes, he said “like Sunderland”.  We then told him that Lance was from Newcastle, to which he replied “Alan Shearer”!

Valerio’s old photos included one of his father, Ultimato, wearing Italian military uniform in 1942, plus one of his grandfather, Giovanni, in uniform during the Italian invasion of Albania in World War One.  We were able to copy these and many more by photographing them.

He then helped us to complete the family tree under Ultimato’s leg of the family and we exchanged addresses so that we could send photographs from this visit, when we got back home.  It transpired that they live just a few kilometres below Fornacia de Barga, very close to the Pedona turn-off, so there are still members of the Bosi family living very near to where we believe Emilio Pietro began his emigration.

Finally, we said our good-byes to the last members of the family, again asking them to come and visit us in the UK and promising to meet again when Terry and Mavis were ready to travel.

On Wednesday, the last night of our holiday, the four of us held a celebratory dinner at our favourite restaurant, L’Osteria, ran by Riccardo Negri (http://www.losteriabarga.com/), in the old town of Barga and hoped to be back there again very soon.

 

On reflection, Graham, Julie, Lance and I agreed that we could not have hoped for a more successful visit.  It had been an altogether emotional and unforgettable experience, which the four of us had been privileged to share.

 

MOLTI GRAZIE FAMIGLIA BOSI!

Since this last visit, we have been able to keep in touch with Francesca, Valerio and Stephano by e-mail, and with Antonio and Emilia by post.  We have exchanged photos of the visit and eagerly await the opportunity to re-visit our long-lost relations in Tuscany.

THE ITALIAN CONNECTION - PART 2

 

TERRY’S ITALIAN REUNION – JUNE 2009

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

After our successful visit of 2008, we simply had to return to the Serchio Valley in the spring of 2009, to introduce my brother Terry to all of his long lost Bosi relatives.  This trip was made possible because Mavis, Terry’s wife, was now fit to travel again.  Prior to travelling, we had advised our cousins, Valerio Bosi, Stefano Bosi, Antonio Bosi and Francesca Venturi of our trip, and we were all looking forward to meeting the new family members again.  Firstly, we planned our trip to give us 4 days in Levanto, in Liguria, on the Italian Riviera, followed by 7 days in Barga.  We flew from Luton to Pisa, thereafter using a hire car in Italy.

 

 

CINQUE TERRA – 30th May

 

Whilst staying in Levanto, we made side trips by train to three of the famous “Cinque Terra” towns, namely Vernazza, Monterosso and Manarola (the other two were Corniglia and Riomaggiore) all of which were delightful.  We also made a trip by car to Portovenere, which must be the most beautiful resort in the Mediterranean. Then, after four days of rest and relaxation, with lots of sun, good food and wine, we set off for another Barga adventure with our batteries fully recharged.

RETURN TO BARGA – 4th June

 

On the Thursday, we left Levanto, heading for Barga, but did a detour via Aulla, and Fivizzano to find the Castle at Verrucola, which, according to the internet, was occupied by the Bosi’s from around 11th to 13th centuries.  For such an ancient building, we expected to find the usual pile of bricks.  However, Terry and I were quite overwhelmed to find a superb building in such an excellent state of repair with our family name attached to it!

Unfortunately we could not get into the castle, as it was only open on Friday afternoons, by appointment, and this was Thursday.  After much posturing by the ‘Count & Countess di Bosi’, and lots of photographs, we tried to get into the nearby Villa La Pescigola, which is famous for its gardens and was also a former Bosi residence roundabout the year 1100 AD.  However, the place was not yet open for the summer, and a large, white, guard dog soon saw us off!  Perhaps another time!

Due to bad weather in the mountains, we decided to go back down to the autostrada to drive the long way round to Barga.  On our way up the Serchio Valley, we stopped at Pedona, which is the hamlet where we believe that our grandfather, Emilio Pietro Bosi, and his brother, Giovanni – Francesca’s grandfather, had lived as boys.  Then further on, on our way up the mountain road, we stopped off at Loppia Cemetery, to show Terry and Mavis, the first Bosi graves that we had found in 2007.

Finally, we arrived in Barga and were made very welcome again by the staff at La Pergola Hotel, where we dined at their refurbished and much improved Restaurant – excellent!

 

On Friday, a lovely warm, sunny day, we spent leisurely around Barga and Mavis surprised us all by walking very confidently up and down the hilly streets in the beautiful mediaeval town.  Before we left the hotel, we received a telephone call from Roberta Sheldon (our translator from last year), confirming that Francesca and Mario, who now live in Reggio-Emilia, would join us for Sunday lunch, but unfortunately, Daniela was unable to travel because she had chicken-pox.  We were disappointed that Daniela was ill and unable to meet us again, but were looking forward to our meeting on Sunday.

 

Later in the afternoon, at our hotel, just as we were having a pre-dinner aperitif on Mavis and Terry’s balcony, who should arrive to see us but Valerio & Tiziano!  Introductions all round were made on the hotel patio and I was kept busy with my dictionary! Valerio and Tiziana then invited us to join them for dinner at their home in Ghivizzano, on Wednesday evening.  This was ideal, as it would be our last night in Italy!

 

LIVORNO REUNION – 6th June

 

It was a lovely sunny day with strong cooling winds, and the blue sea looked fantastic.  After our walk, we went by car along the sea front to the southern edge of the town, where we lunched in the famous Ristorante Sassoscrito Sea-food restaurant, which was situated on the cliff tops and has with fantastic sea views.  We enjoyed an excellent meal of very fresh local fish and very delicate wines and much conversation - in English this time, thanks to an excellent translation service from Andreas.

We returned to Barga in a real mountain thunderstorm and, after such a wonderful meal with lots of wine (except for Graham – he was driving!), could only manage one large ‘four seasons’ pizza to share between the four of us in La Pergola Restaurant!  This was freshly cooked, in a real wood-fired pizza oven and was the thinnest pizza you could ever imagine.  It was delicious!  We talked about our wonderful day and experiences and went to bed full of good food, wine and happy memories!

 

 

BARGA REUNION – 7th June

Mario then invited us back to their holiday home in Coreglia Antelminelli and then onto a nearby Pizzeria for supper.  Terry and Mavis enjoyed seeing the old house, which had belonged to Francesca’s mother, and still bore the coat of arms of the Antognelli family.  We then followed Mario up a winding mountain road until it petered out almost at the top of the ridge, where we found La Pizzeria (at about the same altitude as Mount Snowdon!)  The food was simple but delicious and “Acqua Naturale” consisted of a jug of water from a mountain spring behind the restaurant, cold, clear and delicious!

Then Emilia asked if we would like some cherries and took us out and round the back of the house.  Antonio then proceeded to break off the branches of their cherry tree so that we could eat as many as we wanted of the wonderful, large, sweet black cherries!  What a delicious and generous treat.

CHURCHYARD & MUSEUM – 9th June

 

THE DAY OF THE GHIVIZZANO REUNION – 10th June 

 

On the Wednesday morning, we drove up the somewhat precarious road to Sommacolonia, the village that overlooks Barga.  We had walked to this village from Barga with Julie and Lance, one hot day last year, and the views of the Serchio Valley from the terrace there were spectacular.  Mavis and I enjoyed the view while Terry and Graham climbed up to see the remains of the German gun emplacement above the church.  It looked to be virtually impregnable and reminded us that the battle to liberate Italy was a very hard one.  We looked around the church, which was beautifully kept and quite big for such a small village.  There were no cafes or shops.

 

MOLTI GRAZIE LA FAMIGLIA BOSI!

 

So, once again, our Bosi Family relatives have made us so very welcome in Tuscany.  We sincerely hope that some of them will be able to come and visit us in the UK as we had extended an open invitation.  We eagerly await the opportunity to re-visit them again.  This was a truly memorable holiday - enjoyed by us all – that’s me (Sandra), Graham, Mavis and Terry.  Arrivederci tutti, con tanti bacci !   (Until we meet you all again, with lots of love!)