We met Rocco Maiuri on the occasion of a day dedicated to ‘Emigration: a heritage of history, traditions and work of Italians abroad’ organized by the ANFE – National Association of Families of Emigrants and the YourFuture association.
We met in the superb Vittorio de Sica hall of the Palazzo della Provincia of Frosinone where this meeting had been organized.
The goal was to rebuild the bridges sought between these two distant ‘shores’. We are talking about the emigrants who left Ciociaria and their families and places of origin since 1870.
Now everything seems simple, Skype, Facetime and Facebook are digital bridges that keep the contacts alive. But until not many years ago there was ‘pen and paper’ and sometimes the phone.
The first wave of emigration took place immediately after the unification of Italy and those emigrants were often people without education who barely knew anything more than the history of their town and maybe those nearby.
Those people have now reached the IV, V and VI generations and many of their descendants want to discover their roots. But they do not speak Italian and do not have first or second degree relatives to contact.
They want to know something about their family, about the town, about the traditions and customs that their ancestors lived.
They seem simple requests but there are many barriers to overcome in order to have these answers: language, the history of small villages in an understandable way for a tourist, the emotions to be experienced by someone who knows both cultures.
The story of Rocco Mauri has touched everyone: when he said he had finished high school in Ceprano before following his family who had already moved to the United States.
He did everything but always with the curiosity and the desire to undertake a journey that had to be better than what he had left.
Then with friends they founded the Ciociaro Club. Nobody believed that they would have succeeded, it seemed an adventure too grand!
It is located in Windsor, Canada, in the only point that is south of the United States and is separated from Detroit by a bridge (or tunnel) that crosses the Detroit River. The facade copies that of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Canneto of Settefrati but behind it there is a modern building that meets the need to entertain, while not losing the memory of the past.
Not only do they celebrate the festivals of the individual towns as they take place in Italy, but the restaurants serve over 3000 meals a week and in the 18-hectare park there are several football fields, baseball fields, cycling tracks and much more.
“Before the Ciociaro club, the Italian emigrants said they came from a place ‘near Rome’, but now they are proud to say they come from Ciociaria!”
The need to recreate a bridge is very strong and for this Discover Places was born as a bilingual portal that tells the stories of the territories of Lazio as www.discoverplaces.travel that is read widely in Canada and USA.
This is why we listened with great interest to the reports and stories of the ANFE, in particular Paolo Castaldi who is the representative of the province of Frosinone.
We are sure that we can give our contribution to these digital but also real bridges with the ‘discover your roots’ program of personalized days dedicated to each one who wants to know the history of his family and his country of origin.
And maybe in June we will all be at the Ciociaro Club with the Rocca d’Oro award by journalist Giancarlo Flavi who with General Carlo Felice Corsetti and the band of the Carabinieri are organizing an exchange of ceremonies between Italy and the USA!