Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Promised Land

In six more sleeps I board a flight to Venice to begin my ten days following my great grandfather's footsteps.
I've had some great outcomes already both locally and in Italy.

You may remember that my two dreams were to stand on the land of my forebears in Italy and to do the same in New Guinea where the boatload of 350 Italians were dumped in 1880.

Last week, thanks to my friend Julian Pepperell and his fishing networks, I had lunch with a young couple from New Britain (PNG). Oliver and his PNG wife live in Kopoko and often travel across the strait between New Britain and new Ireland on fishing ventures chasing big game fish. Oliver was fascinated with the Italian story. He had heard little of it in PNG and is keen to help. Planning for a visit to this most remote of coastlines suddenly took a giant leap forward.

In Italy I have made contact with the man who has spent the greater part of 20 years researching the family name (Perin) from which I am descended. He has offered to give me a copy of his beautifully researched and produced book as a centre piece to the Capelin/Perin family display I am helping put together for the New Italy Museum. I will meet his daughter. I will also meet for the second time in 25 years the young woman (now 48) whom I first met in the Orsago municipio in 1988. Remarkably she still has the thank-you post card that I sent her that many years ago.

Finally I have made contact with a gentleman in Marseille who will escort me around the port and talk to me about Marseille in the late 19th Century. Marseille was the departure point for the 350 Italians when they left their homes in Veneto headed overland to board a boat for Barcelona and the beginning of their ill-fataed voyage.

Fingers crossed I don't catch the flu which is currently festering in my household. I have taken to sleeping in another bedroom from my wife! Is that selfish?

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