Giaramidas
(Diane's Father's Family)

After our previous day of exploration we were able to make good time back to Santa Ninfa and were in the town square by 10:30 am, Thursday. We followed our money procedure first. Our concern was that the bank would only allow one transaction per day and might eat our card if we did bad things. So each morning we religiously drew $200 from the machine. The word 'religiously' is accurate - we knelt in front of the machine and offered prayers before inserting the card.

Then we looked for a shop that sold electrical plugs - no luck.

The previous day we had scouted the town hall and found the room for vital statistics so we breezed in and said 'Hi'. No-one spoke a word of English but we had a copy of Diane's grandfather's birth certificate. The people quickly got the idea and started a search. Very nice people. They even roped in the big Boss to help. Apparently one filing cabinet has all the people filed by family which was a minor problem because the family name had been changed to Geramita after arrival in America, and there were two families - Giaramida and Giaramita. So we looked for both.

The staff at the townhall

Eventually, since we were monopolizing everyone's time in this fascinating, and quite rare, discovery process we were very politely shooed out and invited to return at 4 pm, after siesta, when they hoped to be able to devote more time to us and also to have a real live Giaramida on the premises to meet us.

Outside, we wandered around a little trying to locate a graveyard and found a semi-ruined church - an earthquake victim it appears.

Notice the huge sloping buttresses to hold it up

In front of the church there was a very small park containing a statue - Padre Pio. We had seen pictures at Anna Maria's of the Pope, Jesus and this guy who looked a little like Jack Nicholson. She had told us it was Padre Pio and here he was in the flesh, or at least, in the bronze. Everywhere we went in Italy we found pictures of Padre Pio - he as ubiquitous as the Virgin of Guadeloupe is in Mexico.

On our way in we had passed a sign to the local Scuola and had the bright idea that there might be an English teacher there who could help us as an interpreter. We mistakenly went into the "Bibloteka" which seemed to be part of the building complex and got redirected to the main part of the school where the administrators were getting ready for the start of the school year. Again, the whole staff was most helpful although none of them spoke English. They had a computer and immediately started up a "Professional Translator" program. Type in English and the Italian appears in another window. A second instance of the program for Italian to English and we had a two-way conversation going very easily. They knew of a woman, Georgiana Coker, who spoke English, they said. They also knew a Giaramida. So one of the ladies drove her car to lead the way to the home of the English speaker and the others promised to try and round up the Giaramida. I can just imagine the conversation: "Hi Pino, this is the local school" "Huh???" "We have a strange American here who wants to meet someone, anyone, called Giaramida from Santa Ninfa" "Hmmmm" "We promised you would break off work and go meet her" "You what?" "....."

Well anyway, we rang the bell at Georgiana's house and we jointly explained what we wanted in a mixture of English and Italian. The Italian was coming from the school administrator, not from us - she wanted to make quite sure that our pilgrimage was successful. Georgiana had immigrated to Sicily from Sierra Leone so she spoke English very well. She was most helpful, told us where the graveyard was and that she would take us there, and she introduced us to the computer technician across the street who happened to have an electrical plug. Unfortunately the plug was attached to a computer and he was not too keen on snipping it off to give it to us. But as this conversation went on Pino pulled up in his car and we immediately started introductions. He was intrigued and in very short order, he not only invited us to his house but found an electrical plug in his car and gave it to us! His sister-in-law, Maria, also arrived and then Valentino di Stefano, Georgiana's husband. He is delightful elf of a man - yes, just like Santa. He runs a beauty-products store from the bottom floor of a nearby house. It seems like there is very little zoning in Italy and many of the businesses are intermixed with homes.

We chatted about our pigrimage and discussed ways to find Diane's ancestors.

Reading from the left facing the camera we have the daughter of Georgiana from Sierra Leone, Valentino her husband, Pino, Maria his sister-in-law and the lady from the school. Diane, with her back to the camera, is obviously saying something to Valentino and Pino that is puzzling them, and Maria is getting a translation from Georgiana's daughter.

Maria led us to her house and we immediately started meeting people. By the end of the night we had met over twenty Giaramidas adn eaten a feast prepared on the spur of the moment by Maria. It was the most fabulous experience. The next day we had lunch with the families before we continued our trip. The rest of this page is all about the families we met, the travel log continues with href="Amalfi.htm" >"Amalfi".

The kernel of the family is three brothers - Guiseppe (Pino) who we had already met, married to Stephani; Giovanni, married to Maria Scarcella who we had already met; and xxx. Pino is a builder and xxx is a baker. The women don't work. Maria was born in Venezuela of Italian parents and she gets teased for a strange accent. The family is very close-knit and is completely at home in the house of either. They seem to eat most meals together as a joint family. This closeness was confusing for a while because Pino took us to Maria, his sister-in-law's, house and we initially thought it was his house and he was therefore married to Maria.

We had an impromptu gathering, remember it is less than an hour since we met Pino! and met various relatives.

From left to right; Mariaelena Cappadoro's daughter Genny Russo and friend of Piera (Pino's daughter), just about to go to College; Maria Elena Cappadoro, Maria's friend from Venezuala; Maria who met us before in the street outside Georgiana's; Maria's mother and xxx, Maria's son. Maria's father was also at the gathering but not in the pictures.

A little later we had been joined by, left to right, Stephani (Pino's wife); Piera (Pino's daughter) who is in the last year of high-school and quickly became our translator-in-chief; Pino; Mariaelena Cappadoro and Genny Russo. The two girls have their Italian/English dictionaries at the ready and Pino is studying the her.

From left to right we have Stephani (Pino's wife); Peter; xxx; Pino and Piera (Pino's daughter)

Then we took Piera and Stephani over to pick up Georgiana and rushed off to the graveyard. The gentleman who looks after the graveyard first explained why he couldn't help us and then became infected with the general enthusiasm and started looking through his ancient books for Diane's great great grandfather. Unfortunately we did not have enough information because everything is arranged by date
A good picture of Georgiana on the left here

Next stop was the town hall where we were welcomed with open arms again.

Even with the extra knowledge and translation skills we had brought with us we weren't able to find out any more and the person they had hoped would be there had not yet returned. But Georgiana just happened to know where he lived so we went knocking on yet another door. He was out on business but we met his wife and chatted for a while.

Finally, back to the house for dinner.

The patio on the roof. It is separated from the room by a bead curtain, one strand of which is being pulled.
The place is filling up. Note the hammock.
The ex-mayor of Santa Ninfa is a Giaramida and is holding forth in this picture
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That evening we drove home quickly but carefully, promising to return for lunch the next day. We were pressingly invited to stay a few days, but we knew we had B&B booking for the rest of the trip so we promised to come back in a year or two. We slept well.

In the morning we got up, breakfasted on Maria's wonderful marmalade and decided to make a very quick visit to Erice, a hill village. This is described on the next page children.

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Finally, we decided we really should go - it was mid-afternoon already and our plans were to drive another 300 miles. Peter left the room for a moment and came back to find everyone in tears. It had been such a wonderful experience.

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