It was a memorable reunion of the Northern California contingent of the Western Usticesi on February 19th when Rosa Ferrigno Stevens and Karen Nicoletti Hartly enthusiastically hosted a reunion in honor of the visit of Pietro and Pina Bertucci from Italy and Maria Bertucci Compagno from New Orleans. About 40 guests participated in the “pot-luck” and we had more food than we could ever consume! Rosa and her family outdid themselves in preparing a number of outstanding authentic Italian dishes including lasagna and a 10th Century Sicilian speciality, arancini (“little oranges” – delicious orange shaped breaded rice balls stuffed with meat and cheese). And the desserts were out of this world! Anise cookies, home made cannoli (umm good!) and Maria’s famous King cake, a New Orleans Mardi Gras specialty, from which Steve Principe got the “lucky” piece with the baby Jesus! He’ll be rewarded with lots of good luck, but is obligated to buy the cake for the next celebration!
The Lauricella family experienced a special treat in meeting two first cousins whom they had never met until now! Will and Anthony Bertucci along with Anthony’s wife Amy, after personal contacts by Fred and Angelo Bertucci, came to the reunion to meet the “rest of their family.” Their great, great grandmother was one of the Lauricella aunts! This new discovery demonstrated with emphasis the value of our organized “outreach” to fellow descendants of Ustica wherever we find them!
After overcoming some technical problems, Pietro’s extensive collection of contemporary photographs of Ustica, numbering in the hundreds, was displayed on Rosa’s huge television screen. His wonderful photos show with clarity the beauty and diversity of “our island” … Ustica. Particularly noteworthy are a number of photos taken from a helicopter over various parts of the island. Other dramatic photos clearly show the rugged mountains behind Palermo, as seen from Ustica, the view that our ancestors had as they left their homeland for the very last time embarking on the long and dangerous voyage to America.
Our gratitude to Pietro for undertaking to be such a wonderful “ambassador” bringing us news and views of Ustica. We’ll continue to follow his commentary and that of others on his blog at www.usticasape.it. And we’ll follow other Usticesi news on Chris Caravella’s great website, www.ustica.org.
Our thanks to all who attended, and we’re all looking forward to the next reunion … wherever in the world it may be!