Friday, September 26, 2008

Amateis Family: 100 Years

One hundred years ago today, my great-grandparents, Pietro and Domenica Amateis, arrived in America from the Piemonte region of Northern Italy. The picture above is of them many, many years later, after they'd had nine children. It is one of the few pictures we have of "Nona" smiling. She had a very hard life here in America, but because of her courage to leave her home in Volpiano, Italy, she gave her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren (and there will be many more!) a better life.
This is my great-grandfather, Pietro, on the far left. Wasn't he a handsome guy?

And here is their name at Ellis Island.

In celebration of our family coming to America, we are having a family reunion this weekend, a time to get together and visit and reminisce. We'll be having some traditional Italian fare, food that has been a part of my memory for as long as I can remember.

There will be homemade raviolis made from our homemade salami. We'll have bagna cauda, literally translated to mean hot bath, which is a hot dip made of garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter and then you dip vegetables, meat, bread, or whatever else you'd like. It's a regional speciality from Piemonte.

We'll also have polenta (well, I won't since it's not one of my favorites!) and homemade salami. I still remember when our family would get together and make the salami. It was definitely a family affair since it took a lot of people to put everything together.

Besides our traditional Italian food, we'll also have a lot of conversation! That's one of my family's favorite things to do - get together and talk about the old times. I love listening to stories of my great-grandparents. It will be a bittersweet time for me since I lost my grandfather almost two months ago. But I know he will be with us in spirit.

Here's to my great-grandparents, for braving a new world, for leaving the old and familiar behind, and for embracing America!


  1. My hubby's side is from Northern Italy. We went to Ellis Island too, looked up both families. Isn't that a great trip? Love the pictures, the stories of their journeys. Puts our journeys into perspective, doesn't it?

  2. Joanne - I actually didn't get to go to Ellis Island - my Dad took those pics when he went there last Christmas. But I do want to go some day.

    It's amazing how different Northern Italy is from Southern Italy - almost like night and day.

  3. If you're ever in New York, try to make that trip, it's so worth it to feel your family's history there. Part of my family is northern, the other half Sicily, very different! Mountains to the Mediterranean Sea! Have a great weekend, enjoy the people (and food :) )

  4. LOVE, love love those pics, Melissa - thanks for sharing. Family history is so fascinating. And that bagna cauda sounds scrumptious. Enjoy your family weekend :)

  5. Lovely photos and history! Congratulations!!!

  6. The pictures and the stories are fantastic. Have a wonderful time with your family -- I'm envious!

  7. Fodder for a grand anthology submission here. And I love your new ID picture.

    My Dad's dad came through Ellis Island from N. Italy also (near Palermo). I've met so many writer women with this same story line. ;) PS...Wish I could be at that reunion for the good eats. Mangia!

  8. I love old photos like that!! What a fun reason for a big family get together. And the food sounds to die for!

  9. Wow, that is great! I would love to know some of my family history, but it just isn't all that clear. I love the photos, too. Aren't they a treasure to have?

  10. Melissa the pictures are so awesome! You have a wonderful family history - so rich and vivid! And can I come over to your house for a meal? That dinner sounds absolutely divine!!!

  11. Tess - The bagna cauda WAS delicious! *grin*

    Thanks, Toni!

    Lisa - I truly am blessed to have such a great family. :-)

    Angie - Yay! Another Northerner! My dad's girlfriend is from Southern Italy, where the "boot" is and it's amazing how different the cuisine is. And you're right - there is definitely some great stories in my family for a short story or even a novel.

    Kacey - The food was SO GOOD. Wow.

    Heidi - The photos are an ABSOLUTE treasure! I love looking at them so much. I'm so glad my family had some avid shutterbugs!

    Ell - Come over anytime! Although be warned - if we have bagna cauda, you my stink like garlic and anchovies for a few days! ;-)


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