My Assisi Heritage

Here is the Petrini factory, on the road between Perugia and Assisi. The corporation makes pasta – as well as other grain products, including animal feed. but I prefer to think of it as my family pasta factory.

I was trying to come up with a blog post today for the #BlogLikeCrazy challenge, and I realized that what I’d really like to do is expand what I posted earlier today, for Photo Friday. I posted a photograph of my great grandparents Francesco and Maria Petrini, who both died on October 9, 1918, in the flu epidemic.

I don’t know as much as I would like to about Francesco and Maria. I know he was born in 1874 and she in 1881. I know his family came from Assisi, where I still have relatives, and I would guess that she was from there as well. And I know he immigrated to the United States in 1904, settling in northeastern Pennsylvania.

I also know that she was commonly called Francesca, which makes them Francis and Frances. I don’t know if that was her middle name or a confirmation name, or if she just liked it. Her maiden name was Tini.

My husband met some of my Petrini relatives in Assisi more than 20 years ago, when he traveled there as part of a church choir tour. My grandmother was still living at the time and gave him contact information, and he invited them to his choir concert. I was in Assisi more recently, in 2012. Unfortunately I did not know how to find them, and without knowing Italian, wasn’t sure how to go about it.

My last afternoon in town, I was buying olive oil in a shop, and the owner, also named Francesco (a very common name in Assisi, for obvious reasons), saw my name on the sales slip. He said, “Petrini? The hotel across the street used to be owned by the Petrini family!” I was staying at the hotel across the street, as my husband had, years earlier, without ever knowing it was owned by the people he invited to his concert. Francesco told me the Petrinis had sold the hotel two years earlier and now owned a restaurant in town. I wanted to rush right out to find it, but I didn’t have time. I had to check out of the hotel and drive back to Florence to catch my flight home.

As I checked out of the hotel, I told the clerk I’d just learned that my family used to own it. She said, “Oh, yes. We recognized your name the moment you made the reservation!” (Wow. I was a VIP there and didn’t even know it. Maybe I didn’t have to have paid the extra $6 a night to be assured of a room with a great view! But it was worth every penny and much more.)

I would love to return to Italy, maybe after learning some Italian, and try to learn more about the Petrini line and all of my ancestors.

Here is the only photo I’ve ever seen of my paternal great grandparents, Francesco and Maria (Francesca) Petrini.

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