Friday, October 29, 2010

Memories in a Cemetery (in Sicily!)

Apparently this is a week for reminiscing. 

Four years ago this weekend, I took a trip of a lifetime. I was studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain and traveled to Italy for 10 days. I met up with my cousin, Sam, in Rome, where he was studying. After a few days of touring Rome, my uncle (Sam's dad and my dad's brother) flew in and we hopped on a train to Sicily.

My grandfather on my dad's side is from Sicily and still has family in a tiny town called Delia. My cousin, uncle and I traveled 10 hours by train and arrived in Delia the day after Halloween 2006. 

When we arrived in Delia, we had to search for our hosts, Guiseppina and Fortunata Riccobene, my grandfather's cousins and the cutest little Italian sisters you'll ever meet. 

They knew we'd be coming sometime that fall but we didn't really have any way to get in touch with them to let them know we were coming. The town was so small and the people we met in the street and in this tiny store knew the sisters and pointed us towards their house. 

(By the way, we only met one person all week who spoke any English. All we spoke was Spanish. We tried to pick up Sicilian as fast as we could but it resulted in some comical 'conversations' that week!)

Oh my gosh, I love these ladies. 

As soon as we arrived at their house, we were welcomed and fed LOTS of food. Heaping. Home made. Sicilian. Delicious. 

As soon as our bellies were full, we headed out to the cemetery. Yes, the cemetery. Being the day after Halloween, the whole town was there to pay respects to their deceased relatives. I will never forget meeting relative after distant relative and getting pulled into their arms for a big hug. 

In the middle of the town cemetery. 

(My maiden name is Palumbo. See it down there? My family!)

After the day at the cemetery, Sam, Uncle Paul and I walked around the town and discovered that this church was designed by one of our many relatives. As we were admiring the church, a car rattled up to the curb and asked us if we were Palumbos. (I mean, we were the only Americans in that tiny town, I think it was pretty obvious.) He said, "You're coming to my house for lunch today!" 

And off we went for more food and family time. (They served us rigatoni with peas on top. I think you know how I felt about the peas.)

I'll never forget the three days I spent in the beautiful country of my heritage. 

I hope you make amazing memories this weekend! 


  1. That is unbelievably awesome! What a fantastic trip, and to actually see and meet your family? Wow. Very, very cool.

  2. Very cool story! Italy is a fantastic country...I had the opportunity to visit earlier this year, but I didn't have that "family" connection. How fantastic!

  3. My husband's family is from Sicily, too! Leone is his mom's maiden name. =) His grandpa goes by Fred, but his given name is Philadelphio... haha! It's super-fun to get to be a part of his big, Sicilian family =)

  4. Such fun memories this brought back of all the stories you, shared of your trip with Sam & your Uncle Paul. From spending 'the day of the dead' in the cemetary, to 'Joe Americano' telling you to 'get in da car' to a mound of delish spag. covered with of all things...peas! To the joys in life!

  5. beautiful countryside!! Makes me want to get away..really!

  6. i studied abroad in Spain too! I was in Madrid for a month, traveled for a week, then Salamanca for a month. We got to visit Sevilla on one of our weekend trips and i LOVED it! definitely one of my favorite places! I want to go back!!!!!

  7. Chm,best years of my life I've spend in Canicatti in Sicily is town 6 km away from Delia ,but my best friends been infact prpelly frm there (Delia),so found the blog by chance but .Regards. Bart


hello you! Thanks for taking a minute to comment! I like to reply to your comments in the thread, so if you have a question and you'd like to get a notification of my response, feel free to click the "subscribe by email" link.