Sandra Irene Harris (nee
Published 16 February 2009
Updated 26 August 2009
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I was born in Wolverhampton in 1940, the daughter of
an English mother, Kate Portsmouth (born 1907), and an Italian father (though
by then, naturalised British), Bruno Bosi (born
1907). I have an older brother,
Terence Peter Bosi, born in Wolverhampton in
1933. Our father was a Confectioner
who owned a Confectioner’s shop selling sweets, chocolates, homemade
Italian ice cream and cigarettes.
His father, Emilio Pietro Bosi (born 1876)
had come to Britain as an economic immigrant towards the end of the 19th
century, when he was just a boy. We
knew nothing of the history, only that he came from Barga
in Tuscany and sold plaster statues from door-to-door, to make a living.
Emilio Pietro obviously prospered here in the UK
because, eventually, he became a Confectioner, owning his own shops. He married Irena Motroni
from Barga, but we do not know where they
married. They lived in Wolverhampton
and raised three sons, Paris, Italo and my
father, Bruno (see photo on the left,
taken in 1917, of Emilio, Irena and their sons). Paris and Italo
were both born in Wolverhampton, but due to difficult confinements with the
first two children (probably due to the language barrier, as Irena spoke
very little English), she went back to Barga for my father’s birth. She returned to Wolverhampton with Bruno
when he was only 6 months old.
Sadly, he was never to return to his birthplace, although he did see
service with the British Army in Italy in 1944.
The Bosi family became
naturalised as British citizens in January 1921 and continued to prosper in
Wolverhampton in the pre-war years. My grandfather, Emilio Pietro, became quite
the man-about-town, mixing in business circles and playing Crown Green
Bowls for the famous Molineux Club as well as for the Staffordshire County
team. In 1936, he won a national
medal, whilst playing for Staffordshire against Yorkshire in the British
Crown Green Bowling National Championship. My father, Bruno, left school and went straight into the
business and was eventually set up with his own shop in Whitmore Reans, a suburb of Wolverhampton.
Bruno married my mother, Kate Portsmouth on 24th
April 1930, at St Anthony of Padua Church, Wolverhampton. My brother Terry
was born on 28th February 1933 and I was born on 24th February
1940. At the outbreak of war in
1939, Emilio Pietro’s business was at its peak when he owned 4
confectionary shops and 3 other properties.
However, during the war years the businesses declined. Emilio Pietro died of a heart attack in
December 1951. In 1940 my parents
moved to Oxley in Wolverhampton and opened a Confectioner’s Shop, which my
father owned from 1940 through to his retirement in 1971, apart from his
absence on military service during World War Two. My mother, Kate, and my grandfather
Emilio Pietro Bosi managed the business during
those years. My father also became something of a Crown Green Bowls
Champion, playing for Wolverhampton and winning trophies and, in fact, died
of a heart attack whilst playing in April 1986.
Although my brother Terry and I knew little about our
Italian roots, we became intrigued when Aunt Irma Bosi,
nee Tazioli, former wife of Uncle Paris Bosi, who was my father’s eldest brother, sent me a
postcard of the Duomo (main church), in Barga. Irma told us that, as a child, she had
attended our father’s christening there, which increasingly intrigued us
over the years and so, eventually, we had a starting point from which to
research our roots. But sadly, my
father died before we were able to even think about visiting Italy and
research our Family Tree.
My husband, Graham Peter Harris, and I had an
opportunity to spend a holiday in Barga, with our
friends Roger & Brenda Virnuls, in the summer
of 1991. We searched the churchyard,
and asked around locally, but could not find any trace of the Bosi name. None
of us spoke Italian at that time and this made our search all the more
Then, in 2005, Graham and I, together with my
brother, Terry and his wife Mavis, nee Kirkham, went on a holiday ‘Tour of
Tuscany’, which was based at La Pergola Hotel in Barga. Again, we
found no direct Bosi connection, although I had
now started to learn Italian but only had a basic knowledge of the
language. The holiday was a great
success and served to whet our appetites for finding a real family link.
We arranged a third visit to Barga
in the summer of 2006, when Graham and I met our eldest daughter, Julie
Harris and her partner, Lance Thompson, in Pisa. We hired a car, drove up to Barga and spent a whole week exploring the mountain
paths and researching family roots. By now, my grasp of Italian was
improving, so we had the confidence visit the priest at the Duomo in Barga and view the christening records. This was an extra-ordinary experience:
though communication was difficult, the priest invited us into his record
room, which held christening and funeral records going back for many
hundreds of years. Again, we were
disappointed not to find my father’s and grandfather’s records. Then, our first real break-through came
when the priest informed us that there were no Bosi
families in the little hilltop township of Barga. They were to be found, however, just down
the hill in the surrounding villages, which were still within the geographical
boundaries of the administrative area of the “Commune di Barga”. It
appeared that Aunt Irma might have remembered the wrong church!
However, whilst in Barga,
we did trace the former home and the last resting place of my Aunt Irma’s
sister, Anna Rosa Vernolini (nee Tazioli), i.e. on my grandmother’s side of the family.
Sadly, Anna Rosa had passed away in October 2004, so she had been living in
this house during our first two visits to Barga,
but we had failed to find her, because we did not know of any links to that
side of the family.
So now, on the advice of the priest, we searched the
nearby churchyard at Loppia, just a mile or so
down the hill from Barga. To our surprise and delight we made a
great breakthrough - we found the graves of many Bosi
families. Alas, the church was
locked and we could not find its priest.
As we had no names of my ancestors, we photographed the Bosi graves for future reference.
Back at the hotel, we were relating our story to an
American woman, who was also on a genealogical quest. She was able to direct us to the township
of Coreglia Antelminelli
(see www.borghitalia.it ), the
next hilltop town just a few miles down the Serchio
Valley. Here, there is a museum
called “Museo della Figurina di Gesso e del’Emigrazione”
which was dedicated to the economic migrants who left the valley to make
and sell plaster-cast statues! At
last, we had found the key to understanding my grandfather’s story!
We visited the museum at Coreglia
Antelminelli the very next day and were able to
establish the history of the migration around the turn of the 19th
century. In medieval times, the Italian Peninsular was covered by a
patchwork of city states, including Venice, Florence, Lucca, Rome, and
Sienna, etc. Outlying towns, such as
Barga and Coreglia Antelminelli, pledged allegiance to one or other of
these city-states, in return for which they were empowered to raise local
taxes in the form of road tolls for travellers and goods passing through
their territory. Such towns, which
would otherwise have depended upon subsistence farming on marginal land up
in the valleys, were financially supported by these taxes. However, when modern Italy was formed in
1871, the city-states were subsumed and their laws and regulations became
defunct. Hence the little towns lost
their tax income overnight and were driven into abject poverty.
One very special skill that existed in the 19th
century, in the Serchio Valley, was that of
making plaster cast statues from hand carved wooden moulds. This had originated for the purpose of
making religious statues for churches, known as “Figurine” and “Figurinai”. So,
the master craftsmen were sent out, with teams of very young boys, to make
and sell these statues and return money to the Valley. Initially, they walked through Italy as
peddlers, selling from town to town, but soon they were over the Alps and
selling across Europe. Eventually,
mostly via the port of Genoa, they spread out across the world, settling in
the UK, USA, South America, Australia and even China. The migration into the UK was mainly into
Scotland, possibly because the Trans-Atlantic ships called in at Greenock, en-route for New York.
To this day, there are still strong cultural links between Barga and many parts of Scotland, particularly Ayrshire
So, at last we had an important clue as to why Emilio
Pietro had left Barga, as a boy, selling
statues. Sadly, we now realised the
significance of the two plaster statues of a shepherd and shepherdess,
which had graced our parents’ lounge for many years (without an explanation
by our parents) but which had by now long been discarded.
Whilst in Coreglia, we also
visited the cemetery, and again found many Bosi
graves, but still no priest to question. Again, we photographed these graves
for future reference, but Lance observed that one or two of them looked
recently tended. He suggested that
we compose a short introductory note in Italian, and leave a copy on the
best-tended graves. That evening
armed with my trusty dictionary, I composed the following note and inserted
copies into 3 waterproof bags:
“Forse sono parente con la vostra famiglia?
(Perhaps I am related with your family?)
Mi chiamo e Sandra Harris (nata Bosi), Inglese.
Bruno Bosi, e nato nel Commune di Barga il 27.02.1907.
Mio nonno, Emilio Pietro Bosi, e nato nel Commune di Barga il 25.09.1876.
I genitori di mio nonno erano Antonio e Paolina Bernardini Bosi.
Per favore, se le fa piacere mi puo scrivere: (Please, it would please me if
you would write to :)
Name: Sandra Harris (Mrs.)
(Details of our
address, telephone number and e-mail were also given)
Sarebbe una cosa gradita
per me e ricevere una tua lettera, grazie.
PS: Scusa per il mio Italiano.”
With no great expectation of success, we left two of
these notes on graves in Loppia and one in Coreglia Antelminelli, but
went home happy to have discovered the story of the emigration.
Shortly after our return home, we received a letter
from a woman in Lucca saying that she had found our note, but didn’t
believe that we were related as all her relatives had now died. I replied and thanked her anyway, pleased
to have received a response.
Meanwhile, our interest in genealogy had led Graham
to create the Harris family tree, which, with Lances’ help, was published
on a website (see http://balmerino.net/harrisfamilytree/).
This generated an e-mail contact from Duncan Ward, a long-lost nephew
of Graham’s, who was also researching family roots. Duncan was able to provide us with a lot
of information on Graham’s side of the family, but he had also made contact
with the Vernolini family in Dunfermline, to whom
I was related via the Motroni’s (i.e. on my
grandmother’s side of our family).
My father had always told us that he had a cousin
named Umberto Vernolini in Dunfermline, with whom
he had lost touch. In fact, on one
occasion more than 40 years ago, whilst touring Scotland by car with my Mom
and Dad, we had detoured into Dunfermline to try to find them, without
success. Now we made contact via
e-mail, using the data provided by Duncan, with Umberto’s two sons Umberto
(Bert) and Frank Vernolini and their wives,
Isobel and Evelyn. Family details
and photos were exchanged and agreement reached to meet, whenever an
In July of 2007, we went to Fife with my brother Terry
and his wife Mavis, for a birthday party at the home of Julie and
Lance. Afterwards, on our way home,
we set up a rendezvous with Terry, Mavis, Julie and Lance and met the Vernolinis’ at North Queensferry, by the Forth
bridges. We had a very pleasant
lunch and exchanged more photos and data.
This represented our first major milestone in the
search for surviving relatives from the Italian side of my family. We have since kept in touch with the Vernolinis’ and hope to visit them from time to time, whilst
Several months later, we received a telephone call
from a woman named Francesca, in Italian, but it was too much for me to
follow. A couple of days later, she
called again, but this time using the translation services of a young
neighbour named Roberta, who was fluent in English. What she told me sent shivers down my
spine! It transpired that
Francesca’s grandfather, Giovanni Bosi, was the
brother of my grandfather, Emilio Pietro Bosi, so
we were in fact second cousins! She
had found our note on her parents’ grave, Giovanni and his wife Eletta Chiappa, which was
also the grave of her father, Adelsone Bosi. Therefore,
the note that we left on this grave had finally located our relatives in
the Serchio Valley. It was an incredibly emotional moment!
Over the weeks, we exchanged letters and family
information and photos with Francesca and it transpired that Giovanni and Eletta had 9 children, all of whom had survived, so the
potential for living relatives was huge!
We were now able to start to draw up the family tree of our long
lost relatives, but there were still huge gaps in our knowledge of
them. After exchanging several
letters with Francesca, we proposed a further trip to Barga
in the summer of 2008, so that we could meet her and her family. Eventually, we agreed to meet up for
Sunday lunch on 22nd June 2008 and booked our trip accordingly.
My brother Terry and his wife Mavis could not travel
with us on this trip, as Mavis was recovering from major heart
surgery. So, once again, Graham and
I met Julie and Lance in Pisa, hired a car and drove up the Serchio Valley to stay at La Pergola Hotel for another
week. However, we had no idea at
this point that we were about to experience a Family Reunion that was
beyond our wildest dreams!
On arrival at La Pergola Hotel on the evening of 18th
June, an elderly Italian couple were waiting in reception and introduced
themselves as Bosi’s! It transpired that they were Francesca’s
brother Antonio Bosi and his wife Emilia Bosi, nee Borgia.
They lived in the village of Silano, at
the very top of the valley, and as they could not make it to lunch on
Sunday, had come down to meet us and invite us back to their home for a
We set up a table outside under the grapevines and
spent a happy couple of hours exchanging family information, but even with
help from the hotel staff, this stretched my limited language skills to
their limits. However, Graham and
Antonio seemed able to converse using mime and sign language and we all had
a lot of fun.
We finally agreed to visit Antonio and Emilia at
their home for lunch on Monday.
Emilia promised to cook us some “cinghiale”
which we translated as wild boar, so we had something new to look forward
On the Friday morning, Roberta, the English
translator, phoned me to ask if Francesca and her family could come to see
us at our hotel on the Saturday afternoon.
Again, we set up a drinks table outside under the grapevines and at
4.00 p.m., Francesca arrived with her husband Mario Venturi,
their daughter Daniela and her daughter, Davina. They also brought their friend and
neighbour, Roberta Sheldon, the translator.
We were all immediately struck by the similarity of
facial looks, expressions and mannerisms of Francesca’s daughter Daniela Venturi, with those of my own younger daughter Mandy
Thomas (nee Harris). We were also
surprised to learn that Francesca’s grandfather, Giovanni had come to
England with his brother Emilio Pietro (my grandfather), but Giovanni had
returned to the valley soon after.
They also told us that the family home at the turn of the 19th
century had been in the hamlet of Pedona, midway
between Barga and Coreglia
We enjoyed a very pleasant couple of hours, drawing up family trees
and swapping information.
Mario bought a bottle of bubbly, with which we
toasted the “Famiglia Bosi”
and then invited us to join them back in Coreglia
Antelminelli for a pizza supper at a nearby
restaurant. We visited their old
family house in Coreglia Antelminelli,
which they maintain as a holiday home, as they now live on the northern
side of the mountains in Reggio Emilia.
Here we met Daniela’s partner, Guido for the first time. Above the doorway of this house were the
remains of a small coat of arms, which they told was that of their family.
We then walked to the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely
evening, with Mario introducing us to various Italian delicacies, whilst
trying to watch a European Cup match on TV, out of the corner of his
eye. They walked us back to the car
park and showed us the rendezvous point outside the church, for our lunch
appointment at noon the next day. As
we left, Mario hinted that Sunday lunch promised to be a rather large party
and this was the first inkling that we had regarding a bigger family
So, on Sunday morning, we set off early for our lunch
appointment and visited the hamlet of Pedona en-route.
We found a sleepy little village, again with a locked
church and no priest to question.
The only couple that we could find knew of no Bosi
resident there. This task to find
Emilio Pietro’s house will have to wait until another visit.
Having motored back up to Coreglia
Antelminelli, we parked and went to the
rendezvous point a little ahead of time.
There was one man sitting there, who looked a little like my grandfather,
with his high forehead and bushy moustache, so I immediately engaged him in
conversation, but it transpired that he was not related, but we enjoyed
trying to converse!
Then Mario and Francesca arrived with the Venturi family together with a crowd of other people
and a very emotional series of introductions began with hugs and kisses
being freely given and received.
Francesca’s eldest brother Gianfranco Bosi
appeared to lead the family and he was almost speechless with emotion.
We met Gianfranco’s children, Stephano, Emiliana and Barbara. Barbara was with her husband
Andrea who, with a degree in English, was most helpful in translating the
conversations. Francesca’s son
Daniele Venturi was also present. From Pietro Guido’s family we met Elvira D’Alfonso nee Bosi, with her
daughter Betty D’Alfonso. From Ottavia Mazzoti’s family, we
met Mauro Mazzoti, and her daughters Alder Togneri nee Mazzoti and Anna Corradini nee Mazzoti. From Ultimato’s
family we met Valerio Bosi and his wife Tizania Bosi (nee Gonella), Valerio’s brother Alberto Bosi
and his wife Manuela Bosi nee Biagioni.
After chatting and cooling off in the local bar, we
proceeded to the restaurant at 1.00 p.m. for lunch.
What can only be described as a fantastic banquet
then began, and went on for the whole afternoon, with countless courses
being served, one after another! Late in the afternoon, we were honoured by
the arrival of the last surviving offspring of Giovanni Bosi
and Eletta Chiappa,
when Ottavia arrived. She was a charming old lady of 94 and
seemed genuinely pleased to meet us, with more hugs and kisses, and to see
our photos of her long-lost Uncle Emilio Pietro.
Mario Venturi, Francesca’s
husband, proposed a toast to the “Famiglia Bosi” and Graham managed a short speech to thank all
these relatives for coming to meet us, promising to return again with Terry
and Mavis Bosi when this was feasible. Once again, Roberta Sheldon was there to
assist with the translation. Thanks
so much, Roberta!
Before leaving, we tried to get Francesca and Mario
to agree to visit us in England, but she said that she was scared of flying
– so we told them to come by train.
Julie and Lance made similar offers to entertain some of the younger
members of the family at their cottage in Fife, Scotland. We hope that some of this will one day
happen. Finally, Valerio Bosi asked if he could come and see us in our hotel in Barga before we went home, as he had some old family
photos to show us. Hence a meeting
was set for Tuesday evening.
We then said our good-byes and returned to Barga, having experienced a most fantastic, emotional
and unforgettable day. I felt like a
long-lost daughter returning to the fold, rather than a distant cousin whom
no one had heard of. It was an amazing experience.
THE CINGHIALE EXPERIENCE
On Monday morning, Graham, Julie, Lance and I (plus dictionary)
set off to drive up the valley to meet Antonio Bosi
and Emilia Borgia Bosi, at their home in Silano, with very little idea of where they actually
lived. Our plan was to find the village and then ask around.
The drive up the Serchio
Valley was magnificent, although the one-way system in the town of Castelnuovo was a nightmare, which managed to tie
Lance’s Sat-Nav up in knots. We passed a series of picture post-card
villages, and then as we approached Silano, which
is the very last village before the top of the ridge, we saw Antonio and
Emilia standing at the roadside waiting for us, outside their house.
We were made very welcome and given a conducted tour
of the house, which was like a Swiss Chalet. Inside, the living room was full of
trophies, including a couple of wild-boar heads, at which point we began to
realise that hunting was an important part of Antonio’s life. In fact, he and his friends had been the
regional champion wild-boar hunters for the last 2 years – not bad for a
man of 72 years of age!
We chatted about family; they had five children, Cinzia, Katia, Ricardo, Alberto and Monia.
We were shown their photographs, together with their five
grandchildren. We took copies by
photographing their photos and did the same thing with a print of the Bosi coat of arms, which was hanging in their
hall. Without the help of
translators, all this proved somewhat slow, but very enjoyable.
Emilia then called us to the dining table and
proceeded to serve up yet another generous banquet as follows:
in Wild-Boar sauce
Casserole of Wild-Boar in a delicious
Roast Wild-Boar with Marinated Porcini
Local Cheese and Local Bread
Homemade Flan with Pine, Hazel and
Walnuts on a Fig Conserve Base
Home Made Fruit Cake
All of this was augmented by a selection of local
beers, with homemade wines and liqueurs.
Poor Lance was driving, so he had to concentrate on double helpings
This was a truly delightful meal, which we were
privileged to have shared.
After lunch Antonio took us a beautiful ride to the
top of the valley, which was about 10-minutes’ drive from their home. Here the ridge represented the border
between the provinces of Lucca and Reggio Emilia. We returned to the house for coffee and
tried to get Antonio and Emilia to agree to visit us in the UK. It was clear that they had no aspiration
to travel and that they were very cosy in their mountain retreat. Besides, as Antonio said, he could never
leave his hunting dogs! They, in
turn, invited us to go back and stay with them, whenever we had the
We said an emotional farewell and motored back to Barga after another fantastic day.
On Tuesday 24th June, we visited the
“Office of the Civil State” in Barga, which is
like our Registry Office. We were
seeking copies of any Bosi family birth or marriage
documents and hoped that my improving language skills would help us to
succeed. We were pleasantly
surprised to find one member of staff spoke fluent English and we easily
gave them whatever facts we had.
They were able to find and copy Emilio Pietro Bosi’s Birth Certificate and his brother, Giovanni Bosi and Eletta Chiappa’s wedding certificate. They had no access to any earlier
records, but suggested that we contact the priest down at his presbytery
adjacent to the new church in Fornaci di Barga (where the road down from Barga
meets the main valley road), from where he now covers the three churches of
Loppia, Pedona and Fornaci di Barga.
As there was no time left on this trip to follow up
on this important lead, we have to put it on hold until our next trip to Barga, hopefully in 2009?
That same evening, we met with Valerio Bosi and his wife Tizania at
Valerio came armed with many photos’, from which it
became clear that he was a football fan, who took great pride in the
Italian National team. Although they
spoke very little English, we had by now developed the skills required to
communicate. Valerio showed us a
photo of himself in a local team, whose strip was red and white stripes, he
said “like Sunderland”. We then told
him that Lance was from Newcastle, to which he replied “Alan Shearer”!
Valerio’s old photos included one of his father, Ultimato, wearing
Italian military uniform in 1942, plus one of his grandfather, Giovanni, in
uniform during the Italian invasion of Albania in World War One. We were able to copy these and many more
by photographing them.
He then helped us to complete the family tree under Ultimato’s leg of the family and we exchanged addresses
so that we could send photographs from this visit, when we got back
home. It transpired that they live
just a few kilometres below Fornacia de Barga, very close to the Pedona
turn-off, so there are still members of the Bosi
family living very near to where we believe Emilio Pietro began his
Finally, we said our good-byes to the last members of
the family, again asking them to come and visit us in the UK and promising
to meet again when Terry and Mavis were ready to travel.
On Wednesday, the last night of our holiday, the four
of us held a celebratory dinner at our favourite restaurant, L' Osteria, ran by Riccardo Negri
in the old town of Barga and hoped to be back
there again very soon.
On reflection, Graham, Julie, Lance and I agreed that
we could not have hoped for a more successful visit. It had been an altogether emotional and
unforgettable experience, which the four of us had been privileged to
MOLTI GRAZIE FAMIGLIA BOSI!
Since this last visit, we have been able to keep in
touch with Francesca, Valerio and Stephano by e-mail,
and with Antonio and Emilia by post.
We have exchanged photos of the visit and eagerly await the
opportunity to re-visit our long-lost relations in Tuscany.
ITALIAN CONNECTION - PART 2
ITALIAN REUNION – JUNE 2009
After our successful visit of 2008, we simply had to
return to the Serchio Valley in the spring of
2009, to introduce my brother Terry to all of his
long lost Bosi relatives. This trip was made possible because
Mavis, Terry’s wife, was now fit to travel again. Prior to travelling, we had advised our
cousins, Valerio Bosi, Stefano Bosi, Antonio Bosi and
Francesca Venturi of our trip, and we were all
looking forward to meeting the new family members again. Firstly, we planned our trip to give us 4
days in Levanto, in Liguria, on the Italian
Riviera, followed by 7 days in Barga. We flew from Luton to Pisa, thereafter
using a hire car in Italy.
CINQUE TERRA – 30th
Whilst staying in Levanto,
we made side trips by train to three of the famous “Cinque Terra” towns,
namely Vernazza, Monterosso
and Manarola (the other two were Corniglia and Riomaggiore)
all of which were delightful. We
also made a trip by car to Portovenere, which
must be the most beautiful resort in the Mediterranean. Then, after four
days of rest and relaxation, with lots of sun, good food and wine, we set
off for another Barga adventure with our
batteries fully recharged.
RETURN TO BARGA –
On the Thursday, we left Levanto,
heading for Barga, but did a detour via Aulla, and Fivizzano to find
the Castle at Verrucola, which, according to the
internet, was occupied by the Bosi’s from around
11th to 13th centuries.
For such an ancient building, we expected to find the usual pile of
bricks. However, Terry and I were
quite overwhelmed to find a superb building in such an excellent state of
repair with our family name attached to it!
Unfortunately we could not get into the castle, as it
was only open on Friday afternoons, by appointment, and this was
Thursday. After much posturing by
the ‘Count & Countess di Bosi’, and lots of
photographs, we tried to get into the nearby Villa La Pescigola,
which is famous for its gardens and was also a former Bosi
residence roundabout the year 1100 AD.
However, the place was not yet open for the summer, and a large,
white, guard dog soon saw us off!
Perhaps another time!
Due to bad weather in the mountains, we decided to go
back down to the autostrada to drive the long way round to Barga. On our
way up the Serchio Valley, we stopped at Pedona, which is the hamlet where we believe that our
grandfather, Emilio Pietro Bosi, and his brother,
Giovanni – Francesca’s grandfather, had lived as boys. Then further on, on our way up the
mountain road, we stopped off at Loppia Cemetery,
to show Terry and Mavis, the first Bosi graves
that we had found in 2007.
Finally, we arrived in Barga
and were made very welcome again by the staff at La Pergola Hotel, where we
dined at their refurbished and much improved Restaurant – excellent!
On Friday, a lovely warm, sunny day, we spent
leisurely around Barga and Mavis surprised us all
by walking very confidently up and down the hilly streets in the beautiful
mediaeval town. Before we left the
hotel, we received a telephone call from Roberta Sheldon (our translator
from last year), confirming that Francesca and Mario, who now live in
Reggio-Emilia, would join us for Sunday lunch, but unfortunately, Daniela
was unable to travel because she had chicken-pox. We were disappointed that Daniela was ill
and unable to meet us again, but were looking forward to our meeting on
Later in the afternoon, at our hotel, just as we were
having a pre-dinner aperitif on Mavis and Terry’s balcony, who should
arrive to see us but Valerio & Tiziano! Introductions all round were made on the
hotel patio and I was kept busy with my dictionary! Valerio and Tiziana then invited us to join them for dinner at
their home in Ghivizzano, on Wednesday
evening. This was ideal, as it would
be our last night in Italy!
LIVORNO REUNION –
It was a lovely sunny day with strong cooling winds,
and the blue sea looked fantastic.
After our walk, we went by car along the sea front to the southern
edge of the town, where we lunched in the famous Ristorante Sassoscrito Sea-food restaurant, which was situated on
the cliff tops and has with fantastic sea views. We enjoyed an excellent meal of very
fresh local fish and very delicate wines and much conversation - in English
this time, thanks to an excellent translation service from Andreas.
We returned to Barga in a
real mountain thunderstorm and, after such a wonderful meal with lots of
wine (except for Graham – he was driving!), could only manage one large ‘four
seasons’ pizza to share between the four of us in La Pergola
Restaurant! This was freshly cooked,
in a real wood-fired pizza oven and was the thinnest pizza you could ever
imagine. It was delicious! We talked about our wonderful day and
experiences and went to bed full of good food, wine and happy memories!
BARGA REUNION – 7th
Mario then invited us back to their holiday home in Coreglia Antelminelli and
then onto a nearby Pizzeria for supper.
Terry and Mavis enjoyed seeing the old house, which had belonged to
Francesca’s mother, and still bore the coat of arms of the Antognelli family.
We then followed Mario up a winding mountain road until it petered
out almost at the top of the ridge, where we found La Pizzeria (at about
the same altitude as Mount Snowdon!)
The food was simple but delicious and “Acqua
Naturale” consisted of a jug of water from a
mountain spring behind the restaurant, cold, clear and delicious!
Then Emilia asked if we would like some cherries and
took us out and round the back of the house. Antonio then proceeded to break off the
branches of their cherry tree so that we could eat as many as we wanted of
the wonderful, large, sweet black cherries!
What a delicious and generous treat.
MUSEUM – 9th June
THE DAY OF THE
GHIVIZZANO REUNION – 10th June
On the Wednesday
morning, we drove up the somewhat precarious road to Sommacolonia,
the village that overlooks Barga. We had walked to this village from Barga with Julie and Lance, one hot day last year, and
the views of the Serchio Valley from the terrace
there were spectacular. Mavis and I
enjoyed the view while Terry and Graham climbed up to see the remains of
the German gun emplacement above the church. It looked to be virtually impregnable and
reminded us that the battle to liberate Italy was a very hard one. We looked around the church, which was
beautifully kept and quite big for such a small village. There were no cafes or shops.
MOLTI GRAZIE LA FAMIGLIA BOSI!
So, once again, our Bosi
Family relatives have made us so very welcome in Tuscany. We sincerely hope that some of them will be
able to come and visit us in the UK as we had extended an open
invitation. We eagerly await the
opportunity to re-visit them again.
This was a truly memorable holiday - enjoyed by us all – that’s me
(Sandra), Graham, Mavis and Terry.
Arrivederci tutti, con tanti
! (Until we meet you all
again, with lots of love!)