Photos and text by Algerina Perna
In 2001 my mother, Sylvia Pizzini Perna, gave her children and grandchildren the trip of a lifetime when she took us to Italy to visit her childhood homes and haunts in the Trentino region of northern Italy. This summer, my sister-in-law Loretta Perna and I went on a second trip of a lifetime while treasuring memories of our mother who passed away late last year at 91. We re-traced steps of the 2001 trip, seeing places meaningful to Mom, and cherishing the hospitality of aunts, uncles and cousins.
While in Mom’s hometown of Roncone, our cousin, Patrizia Pizzini Cozzio, and Don Celestino Rizzi, the parish priest at Chiesa di Santo Stefano, researched records and traced our family genealogy to the 1600’s, the earliest records that the church possessed. We also visited another home where Mom had lived in Trento, reflecting in the room where my grandfather had died in 1934. Walking ancient streets while absorbing these profound experiences gave me a greater perspective on the passage of time and greater insight into Mom’s life.
Adding new destinations to the second leg of the trip, Loretta and I ventured south to Assisi; Sorrento; Herculaneum, Positano, Naples and Rome. Italy’s antiquity is written in the architecture of her buildings, from Greek and Roman temples and their accompanying gods, to the ornate Christian churches from the early ADs onward. The Austro-Hungarian influences in northern Italy appear in Tyrolian-style homes and landscapes. Gothic architecture of medieval France stretches skyward in cathedral spires.
Memories of my mother intertwine with Italy’s history as I recall bits and pieces of the factual and mythological stories she related since my childhood. This land of beauty wrapped in medieval walls and both ancient and personal history will always hold a special place in my heart as the land of my ancestors and childhood home of my mother.