Monday, 8 June 2015

More than brothers - An Italian Family Reunion

San Vandemiano, Treviso Province. Sunday 7 June 2015. Perin Family reunion.

I am exhausted. I am Perin. I am Capellin, or Cape’in. Today 550 people from Friuli and Veneto, Canada, Brazil, USA, and the biggest non European contingent – Australia, gathered to celebrate the extended family - PERIN. 

I was asked to carry the Australian flag in procession into the church where mass was celebrated in Italian, complete with a choir of thirty voices and a Brazilian priest who looked like brother Mick.  I went to communion (I’m not a practicing Catholic, is that a sin?) so I could receive a host from my somewhat priest-like non-brother.

Then followed a seven course meal served over five hours in a hall with no fans or aircon and the outside temperature approaching 35degrees. It all ran like clockwork.

Was it worth it – to come to Italy for lunch (as Andrea describes it)? Mick and I say emphatically yes. We now have a clear understanding about our family name. We were surrounded by people calling themselves Perin-Capellin. All insisting their name was Perin and their nickname was Capellin (from the word for hat - capello). The Perin-Capellin representatives (about 40 of the 500) came from Australia (Lismore in particular), Brazil and a large group from a nearby village named Giarine . We were told we should change our name back to Perin  - “Capellin is not a name. Perin is your name!”they said. "we are all Capellin but we are Perin." You can see how confusing it could be.

Highlight of the day was meeting our Lismore cousins for the first time – Elda (77 year old matriarch with boundless energy), her daughters Yvette and Sonia and their children and immediate cousins some of whom have lived in both Australia and Italy. It’s a long way to come to meet cousins who live 150 km away in Lismore but what a hoot. Elda, told the story of coming back to Italy in 1948 as a child and wondering why she was being called Capellin. Her mother explained the nickname concept (a sub group of the Perins) and from then on she understood. “We’ve always known we were Perin/Capellins. What took you so long? We all knew.” 

Sonia Elda Yvette
Elda arrived in Australia the 40s, returned to Italy in 1948 and then returned to Australia in the fifties. The other story concerned my Auntie Rita who worked with Sonia in Lismore and when approached and told that they were related refused to believe the Perin Capelin story. It took another thirty years to emerge.
We spoke of keeping in touch and perhaps a joint reunion of the two streams of the Perin clan in Australia (their great grandfather and ours (Lorenzo) were first cousins.
Switch to the music channel if this is too detailed. Family history can be tedious to those not part of the family.

The other delight was meeting second cousin Linda Spinaze (her father and our father were first cousins) for the first time. We spent 24 hours together. She and husband Roger stayed at the same accommodation as us in the tiny village of Orsago and, while Roger prepared his speech for the conference he was attending the next day, we three went hunting the back streets of Orsago for the family home of our great grandmother (Maria Lucon Tome - Tome was her husband’s name so it was his home we were searching for -  Italian women don’t take their husbands name, only the children take the fathers name. a custom not continued in Australia though Elda said “Why should we. I am a Perin always.”).

Anyway back to the search for the tome home. we had an address. We knocked and Amalia (age about 75) answered the door. It was the right place. We spoke for five minutes, neither of us understanding the other. She showed us a photo of her younger self and her brother and offered us a coffee “voluntieri” (my pleasure), We couldn’t figure out how we could sit over coffee with no common language so we were about to say goodbye when we were rescued by her son-in-law and his wife (Frederica Tome) who live next door (Amalia’s brother – Frederica’s father - lives upstairs - so Italian.  We exchanged email addresses, They are interested in family and we will follow up with some photos and family tree info. Cold calling works – sometimes. It was a great start to the day.

Linda Spinaze amalia Tome Brother mick

Casa Tome (Home of the Tomes)

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