... to a place, where I belong. However, not West Virginia, but a small hilltop town in the Teramo region of Abruzzo, Italy.
For Mary Smith of Sheperdstown, West Virginia, USA, a collection of old crinkled sepia photographs, a few letters and a copy of her grandfather's passport were the only remnants of a past largely unknown to her and her extensive American-Italian family. At family gatherings when talk would turn to Nonno Nicola it seemed more questions were created than answered. Why he travelled by ship, from a little town called Tortoreto, Abruzzo all the way to New York City, arriving at Ellis Island in 1913, at the tender age of 16? Who was his travelling companion named on his passport? Who were his siblings? Nicola died in a tragic accident when he was only in his 40's when some of his children were still too young to think to ask questions about his life in Italy. Everyone would try to glean from their memories different things they recalled hearing older family members saying ....like little puzzle pieces that did not make a whole picture.
During 2009, Mary, her husband Dave and son Eric, started to make plans for a trip of a lifetime to Italy. The Amalfi Coast, Naples, Pompeii and Rome were all on the itinerary, but the town of Tortoreto, held a special fascination for Mary and to visit the place her grandfather had left almost 100 years before, would fulfill a lifelong dream and help bridge a gap between the past and the present.